The Lotte Marines have outscored Japan with 501 runs this season, but their defense showed Monday why this team is going to be tough to beat as the pennant race winds down, even with the Orix Buffaloes playing such tenacious and resilient baseball.
Appropriately enough on Japan’s national “Respect for the elderly” day, the day’s top match-up was, in the mind of this old fart, 40-year-old Tsuyoshi Wada against 32-year-old Masahiro Tanaka, but it was more reality check than anyone wanted to see.
There were only two CL games and the Yakult Swallows showed some of that same resilience behind their 41-year-old lefty Masanori Ishikawa, to come from behind against Hiroshima’s young hotshot Masato Morishita while DeNA’s Fernando Romero continues to look like a big pitching find.
Marines 1, Fighters 0
At Sapporo Dome, the Marines’ defense continued to produce highlight-reel fodder as Lotte’s Ayumu Ishikawa (3-2, 4.24) threw his second straight quality start since returning from elbow cleaning surgery in June.
Marines leadoff man Takashi Ogino had three hits and was a constant menace but the big impact came after Takuma Kato doubled to open the sixth against Ryusei Kawano (2-4, 2.51) and Ogino sacrificed him to third from where he scored on Kyota Fujiawara’s sacrifice fly.
Ishikawa allowed three hits but no walks over six, while Kawano walked to and allowed three hits over 6-1/3.
Frank Herrmann worked a scoreless seventh thanks to a good catch in center by Fujiwara to open the inning. Chihaya Sasaki allowed two to reach in the eighth with no out but a sacrifice, a lineout on a superb catch by shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria and a flyout ended that threat.
Six years after saving his last game for DeNA, Yuki Kuniyoshi equaled his career-high with his second despite walking two in the ninth.
Hawks 5, Eagles 4
At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, this was like watching a superhero movie where two heroes are aging and no longer up to the task. Forty-year-old Tsuyoshi Wada allowed three runs on three walks and four hits over four innings as he missed a lot of his pitches, while Masahiro Tanaka (4-6, 3.08) threw a lot of bad pitches as he gave up five runs in five innings before getting the hook.
Alfredo Despaigne and Ryoya Kurihara homered for the Hawks, while Yuki Yanagita scored twice. Yuki Matsumoto (2-3) got the win for three innings of solid relief, while the Hawks wheeled out Livan Moinelo in the eighth and Yuito Mori in the ninth for perhaps the first time this season. Moinelo stranded two, and Mori’s command was inconsistent. He gave up a one-out homer to Daichi Suzuki but stranded the tying run to earn his ninth save and his first since April.
Lions 6, Buffaloes vs 4
At Kyocera Dome Osaka, Seibu scored six runs off rookie right-hander Hitomi Honda (0-1, 7.45) who seemed to lose it a bit after a couple of good pitches were hit to open a three-run third, Wu Nien-ting leading off with his eighth home run.
The Buffaloes got on the board against Kona Takahashi (11-5, 3.29) on rookie Kota Kurebayashi’s seventh homer in the fourth but Seibu scored three more in the fifth, Tomoya Mori doubling in two and scoring on Shuta Tonosaki’s double.
Orix’s bullpen entered and shut down the Lions, and Steven Moya’s ninth homer in the fifth made it 6-2. The Buffs could only score once in the sixth on a groundout after a Yuma Mune double put two in scoring position with one out—Kurebayashi missing an opposite-field three-run homer by a foot or two.
Three-straight two-out eighth-inning singles against Takahashi made it 6-4 but Takahashi got out of the inning and Kaima Taira cleaned up in the ninth for his 16th save as Orix fell 3-1/2 games back of the Marines.
Swallows 2, Carp 2
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, lefty Masanori Ishikawa started for Yakult and did what he’s now done in 10 of his 11 starts, keep opponents from scoring more than two runs while going five or six innings. He surrendered back-to-back fifth-inning homers to rookie Tomoki Ishihara, his third, and Ryosuke Kikuchi, his 14th.
Masato Morishita (6-7, 3.12), who’d allowed 14 runs in his previous three starts, walked nobody for the first time in four starts, and held the Swallows off the board until they tied it on four straight one-out singles in the eighth. Two pinch-hit singles set the table and the red-hot Yasutaka Shiomi and Norichika Aoki tied it.
Swallows catcher Yuhei Nakamura made the defensive play of the game in the eighth, gunning down a runner trying to advance to third on a poor bunt in front of the plate to help keep it a two-run game.
BayStars 6, Dragons 0
At Yokohama Stadium, DeNA’s Fernando Romero (3-2, 3.17) scattered six walks and three hits thanks to serving up four double plays in a 107-pitch shutout, and at the plate had two hits and scored a run.
Masayuki Kuwahara led off the BayStars’ first with a home run for the second straight day with his 12th homer off lefty Shinnosuke Ogasawara (7-8, 3.42). He doubled in a run after Romero singled to put two on DeNA’s three-run second and saved at least one run with a one-out catch at the wall in the fourth inning.
Keita Sano, who doubled in a run in the second, hit a solo homer, his 13th, in the fifth.
Tuesday’s starting pitchers
BayStars vs Swallows: Yokohama Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT
Dragons vs Tigers: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT
Carp vs Giants: Mazda Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Active roster moves 9/20/2021
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/30