Yuki Matsui and a quartet of relievers turned back the Lotte Marines in a 3-0 victory on Thursday to complete a three-game sweep of their closest Pacific League rivals.
The win lifted Rakuten to within 2-1/2 games of the second-place Marines, who trail the SoftBank Hawks by two games. The Marines remain nine games above .500 despite being outscored this season 344-360.
Matsui was yanked after needing his 114th pitch to notch his 12th strikeout and leave the bases loaded in the fifth inning at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.
Matsui, who saved 30-plus games in four of the last five seasons, improved to 3-3 as a starter. He gave up five hits and had trouble getting some close calls as he walked four.
Reserve catcher Takahiro Shimotsuma opened the scoring with his first career homer and Eigoro Mogi singled in runs in the third and fifth off Daiki Iwashita (5-6), who also went five for the Marines.
After four homers over the first two games in Sendai, Hideto Asamura failed to reach the seats but reached base three times to contribute to two of the Eagles runs.
Kanji Teraoka worked the sixth for the Eagles, D.J. “Bearded Thunder” Johnson the seventh, Tomohito Sakai the eighth, and Alan Busenitz the ninth, when he earned his 15th save.
It was a tough night for the Marines’ Leonys Martin, who after striking out for the fourth time, was hit by Busenitz in the ninth, raising his Japan-leading hit-by-pitch total to 14, leaving him in pole position to join a fairly large club of imported players who lead their league in being hit with baseballs.
No broom at the inn for Buffaloes
The Orix Buffaloes came within one pitch of sweeping the league-leading SoftBank Hawks on Thursday, only for Akira Nakamura to put a good swing on a hanging 2-1 curve for a game-tying two-run homer as the teams played to a 3-3, 10-inning tie at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.
Moments after the Buffaloes took a 3-1 lead against Yutaka Wada in the top of the fifth, Nakamura evened things up. Orix starter Chang Yi, whose cousin Yang Yao-hsun used to pitch for SoftBank, fell behind Nakamura with two outs and a man on in the fifth. The home run was Nakamura’s sixth of the season.
Yurisbel Gracial opened the scoring in the second with his eighth home run, only for Orix’s Aderlin Rodriguez to tie it in the sixth with his fourth homer.
Wada gave away the lead after a scratch single, a wild pitch, a walk. Kenya Wakatsuki doubled beyond the reach of Gracial to make it a 2-1 game. The drawn in infield failed to prevent the runner on third from scoring, but a diving stop by shortstop Taisei Makihara robbed Ryo Ota of a single and Wada was able to get out of the inning trailing by two.
The real highlight of the game was an electric inning by Hawks lefty Livan Moinelo in the eighth. He overpowered Rodriguez on four fastballs. Masataka Yoshida was able to foul off his hard stuff, but was looking fastball and watched helplessly as a 3-2 curve floated through the zone. Steven Moya grounded out on four pitches to end it.
Uehara shuts down Lions
Nippon Ham Fighters lefty Kenta Uehara (1-1) allowed two runs over seven innings while striking out nine in a 12-2 butt kicking of the Seibu Lions at MetLife Dome.
Lions right-hander Sho Ito (0-2) allowed four runs over 3-1/3 innings, and reliever Ken Togame was shelled for six runs in 1-1/3 innings.
Wednesday could have been old timers day with both Tsuyoshi Wada (39) and Tetsuya Utsumi (38) going in the Pacific League, but Utsumi, who was only able to go five innings in his first PL win last week, was yanked after four in the Seibu Lions’ one-sided win over the Orix Buffaloes.
Wada pitches Hawks past Eagles
Wada (5-1), whose fastball touched 138 kph (85.7 mph) had too much of everything but speed for the Rakuten Eagles, going 6-2/3 scoreless innings in the SoftBank Hawks’ 8-1 win at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.
By working the corners with a lively fastball the Eagles were consistently swinging under, and staying low in the zone with his changeup and slider, Wada challenged hitters in the zone and gave up hits on good swings, but rarely looked challenged.
He allowed six hits and a walk while striking out six. He would have had seven had umpire Naoto Shikita noticed that catcher Hiroaki Takaya had caught a two-strike foul tip. Wada got Hiroaki Shimauchi to fly out on the next pitch, his 101st, before exiting stage right.
Wakui (8-2) got off to a solid start, retiring the first four batters, including Akira Nakamura. Perhaps the hardest player in Japan to strike out, Nakamura who rarely misses, Nakamura went down swinging at a changeup.
Alfredo Despaigne, who got a late start to the season due to his being in Cuba when travel restrictions were imposed, opened the scoring with a one-out solo homer off Wakui in the second. Nakamura went after Wakui’s first pitch in the third to single home Taisei Makihara, and Despaigne cracked a three-run homer in SoftBank’s six-run fifth.
Spangenberg lowers boom on Buffaloes
Corey Spangenberg homered, tripled, double and drove in six runs as the Seibu Lions crushed the Orix Buffaloes 13-5 at MetLife Dome despite starter Tetsuya Utsumi failed to go five innings.
Ernesto Mejia doubled in two runs in the bottom of the first off Daiki Tajima (1-4) and Spangenberg followed with his NPB-best sixth triple to make it 4-1. Shuta Tonosaki led off the Lions’ second with a homer and Spangenberg went deep with his ninth homer to finish the four-run frame.
Utsumi held it together until the fourth, when he surrendered three runs on four-straight one-out hits. A fifth, off his right thigh forced him off the field for treatment but he got out of the inning before calling it a night.
Ojima outduels Kaneko
Lotte Marines lefty Kazuya Ojima (5-5) out-pitched former Sawamura Award winner Chihiro Kaneko (1-3) to boost the Marines to 2-1 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.
Ojima got double plays in the third and fourth, one started by the slick-fielding southpaw, before escaping a bases-loaded jam in the fifth. Kaneko also worked out of trouble in the third and fourth, but left after hitting Marines catcher Tatsuhiro Tamura on the hand while he trie to sacrifice.
With two on and one out, Yudai Fujioka drove a low pitch to the wall for a two-run double.
Fighters catcher Yushi Shimizu doubled home Taishi Ota in the seventh before Ojima left. Frank Herrmann and Naoya Masuda each pitched in with a scoreless inning to close it out.
3-HR Sakamoto blasts Dragons
Hayato Sakamoto belted three home runs from the leadoff spot and drove in four runs for the Yomiuri Giants in their 5-4 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Nagoya Dome.
The Giants’ Takumi Oshiro homered to lead off the top of the seventh and Sakamoto completed his hat-trick with two outs.
Swallows erase 7-run gap to tie Carp
Yasutaka Shiomi capped a three-run eighth-inning rally as the Yakult Swallows erased a seven-run deficit in their 10-inning, 7-7 with the Hiroshima Carp at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.
Swallows starting pitcher Hirofumi Yamanaka doubled in the game’s first run in the second, when the visitors took a 3-0 lead, but the submarine right-hander allowed seven runs in 2-1/3 innings.
Carp starter Yusuke Nomura left with no outs in the seventh after back-to-back home runs from Tetsuto Yamada and Munetaka Murakami made it a 10-7 game.
Sano, Kamichatani bag Tigers
DeNA BayStars cleanup hitter Keita Sano celebrated being named the CL’s player of the month for August earlier in the day by doubling twice and driving in three runs in a 6-1 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Yokohama Stadium.
The BayStars overturned an early 1-0 deficit in the bottom of the first. A Takayuki Kajitani single and back-to-back doubles by Neftali Soto and Sano made it 2-1.
Kamichatani (1-1) allowed five hits and a walk while striking out three over seven innings. Kenta Ishida and Spencer Patton finished up. Tigers starter Koyo Aoyagi (6-4) allowed four runs over five innings to take the loss.
Sugano monthly MVP for 8th time
Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano set a team record for monthly honors on Wednesday, with his eighth pitcher of the month award, surpassing the seven monthly awards earned by Hall of Fame slugger Hideki Matsui. Sugano’s August award comes on the heels of his honor for June and July.
Sugano went 4-0 with a 1.50 ERA, which was second to Chunichi Dragons lefty Yudai Ono (3-0, who struck out 27 batters, one per inning over three complete games.
The CL hitter of the month award went to 25-year-old DeNA BayStars left fielder Keita Sano. Promoted to captain and dropped into the cleanup spot after less than 400 first-team plate appearances, the ninth-round draft led the Central League with 22 RBIs.
Sano’s .405 on-base percentage was second in the league to the .457 posted by the Yakult Swallows’ Munetaka Murakami, who won for June and July. Sano was also second to Murakami in slugging average by a smaller margin .598 to .576. It was Sano’s first monthly award.
The Pacific League winners were right-hander Ayumu Ishikawa of the Lotte Marines (4-0, 3.38 ERA) and Orix Buffaloes corner outfielder Masataka Yoshida.
Ishikawa won his second award over the Rakuten Eagles’ Hideaki Wakui (3-1, 1.47), whose only loss came in a 2-0 shutout and who won for June and July.
Yoshida, who won for the third time, led the PL with a .510 on-base percentage and was second in OPS to Yuki Yanagita of the SoftBank Hawks.
Tetsuya Utsumi (1-1) worked five scoreless innings to earn his first win since August 2018 as the Seibu Lions beat the Lotte Marines 4-2 at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium on Wednesday.
The 38-year-old lefty, acquired by Seibu as part of the compensation they received after the Yomiuri Giants signed free agent catcher Ginjiro Sumitani, allowed two hits and two walks while striking out six with a fastball that doesn’t touch 87 mph.
“Frankly, I’m happy with this,” Utsumi said. “I was only able to pitch five innings, and I am grateful to the batters for getting me some runs and to the relievers who picked up the slack for me.”
Marines lefty Kazuya Odajima (4-5) allowed two runs, one earned, on four hits and three walks over seven innings. He struck out six.
One inning after left fielder Tsuyoshi Sugano prevented the Lions from taking the lead in the top of the fifth inning with a one-hop strike to the plate, the visitors opened the scoring on a throwing error.
Shuta Tonosaki set up the run with a bunt single and a stolen base. With one out and two on, Tonosaki tagged up on a fly to right and Leonys Martin ended up in the camera pit beyond the third-base dugout.
The Marines got both of their hits off Utsumi with two outs in the fifth before the lefty made his exit. Ryosuke Moriwake struck out the side for the Lions in the sixth, and Fumikazu Kimura homered to lead off the seventh.
From that point, the game became a walkathon, with the Marines making the most charitable contributions. Seibu’s Kaima Taira allowed a run in the seventh on a single and three walks.
He was no match, however, for Marines right-hander Yusuke Azuma in the eighth. After Takumi Kuriyama’s leadoff walk and a sacrifice, the Marines ordered first base filled with an intentional walk. Three walks later it was 4-1. The Marines tacked on one run against closer Tatsushi Masuda in the ninth before he nailed down his 15th save.
Buffaloes come back to tie Hawks
SoftBank Hawks closer Yuito Mori blew a two-run ninth-inning lead as the Orix Buffaloes tied it on Ryoichi Adachi’s two-out two-run single and closer Brandon Dickson worked a scoreless 10th before the teams finished in a 10-inning 2-2 tie at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.
Trailing 3-1 in the ninth, Mori surrendered back-to-back no-out singles by Shuhei Fukuda and Yutaro Sugimoto. A stolen bases by Fukuda and pinch-runner Kodai Sano, and an intentional walk to Masataka Yoshida, gave Adam Jones a chance to win it with one out. He popped out to short before Adachi’s sharp ground single to left tied it.
The Hawks got the leadoff hitter on in the 10th but he was doubled off first by Buffaloes closer Brandon Dickson after he caught Nobuhiro Matsuda’s bunt attempt on the fly.
Tsuyoshi Wada allowed a run on four hits over six-plus innings for the Hawks, Yurisbel Gracial cracked a tie-breaking two-run home run, and reliever Yuki Matsumoto bailed Wada out of a seventh inning jam after entering with two on and no outs. Livan Moinelo worked a 1-2-3 eighth before the Buffaloes came back.
The Hawks opened the scoring on the second pitch of the game as Keizo Kawashima homered off lefty Daiki Tajima. The Buffaloes, however, tied it after Fukuda’s flare dropped for a leadoff single. A groundout put him on second and when Wada left a 3-2 pitch up in the zone, Yoshida smashed it for a two-out RBI single. The hit extended Yoshida’s batting streak to 20 games.
Yuya Iida acquired over the weekend in a trade from the Hanshin Tigers, worked a scoreless eighth for the Buffaloes against the Hawks, his first pro team.
Eagles claw back against Akiyoshi
The Rakuten Eagles left it till late, scoring five runs in the ninth off Nippon Ham Fighters closer Ryo Akiyoshi (1-2) in their 5-3 win at Sapporo Dome.
The victory took starter Hideaki Wakui off the hook for the loss. The 34-year-old right-hander had allowed three runs, all on Sho Nakata’s Japan-best 22nd home run in the fifth. Fighters starter Kenta Uehara worked five innings, while right-hander Nick Martinez relieved him in the sixth in a one-inning relief cameo.
Alan Busenitz worked a scoreless ninth for the Eagles to earn his eighth save.
Sanchez, Giants hold off BayStars
Angel Sanchez (4-2), pitching for the first time since being sidelined on July 25 for shoulder discomfort, allowed a run over six innings in the Yomiuri Giants’ 3-1 win over the DeNA BayStars at Tokyo Dome.
The 30-year-old right-hander allowed one hit and three walks while striking out six in a 91-pitch outing.
The Giants scored all their runs off lefty Haruhiro Hamaguchi (3-4) in the second inning. Yoshihiro Maru, who went 2-for-2 with two walks, hit his 14th home run with one out and none on. Hiroyuki Nakajima walked, Naoki Yoshikawa tripled him home and scored on a groundout.
Giants manager Tatsunori Hara used four relievers to cover two innings before Rubby De La Rosa pitched a perfect ninth to earn his eighth save.
Tetsuto Yamada drove in two runs, including one on a 10th-inning sacrifice fly as the Yakult Swallows eked out a 3-2 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Koshien Stadium.
Hanshin’s Jerry Sands homered for the second-straight night. His two-run homer tied it in the seventh against submarine righty Fumihiro Yamanaka, who struck out six and allowed four hits over six-plus innings.
Aizawa slams Carp past Dragons
Hiroshima Carp catcher Tsubasa Aizawa hit a fourth-inning grand slam in a 9-5 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Nagoya Dome.
The Carp opened the scoring in the first on back-to-back home runs by Jose Pirela and Ryosuke Kikuchi. Aizawa’s homer made it 6-0, before the hosts chased Carp starter Yusuke Nomura (4-1) in a five-run sixth. Dragons lefty Shinnosuke Ogasawara (1-3) took the loss.
Hideaki Wakui overcame a rough start to work seven innings, but Marines lefty Kazuya Ojima, 10 years his junior, struck out a career-high 11 to deny the 34-year-old his ninth win to open the season as the Lotte Marines beat the Rakuten Eagles and their former teammate 2-0 on Wednesday at Sendai’s Rakuten Semei Park Miyagi.
Wakui pitched out of a two-out bases-loaded jam in the first inning with a good inside fastball to Katsuya Kakunaka that the former PL batting champion popped up. After Ojima worked out of a first-inning pickle, Wakui fell behind light-hitting Yudai Fujioka to start the second. The right-hander threw the Marines shortstop a 3-1 fastball down the pipe that he skied to right only for it to reach the seats at the foul pole for his first home run of the season. With two outs, Wakui hung an 0-1 breaking ball and Shuhei Fukuda pulled it down the right-field line for his third home run.
Ojima worked around a defensive mixup in the second that helped Stefen Romero to a leadoff double, and that second zero proved to be the ballgame as he allowed only two more batters to reach through seven innings. Former Eagle Frank Herrmann worked the eighth, while Naoya Masuda notched his 17th save in the ninth.
Wakui also went seven, and though he battled his command more than he has for most of the season, he figured things out as the game went on. He finished with five walks, nine strikeouts and three walks.
Matsuda spearheads Hawks comeback
Nobuhiro Matsuda hit a game-tying seventh-inning home run and singled to give the Hawks a out, ninth-inning beachhead they exploited in their 5-4 come-from-behind win over the Orix Buffaloes at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.
Masataka Yoshida doubled off 39-year-old Hawks lefty Tsuyoshi Wada to drive in a first-inning run and broke a 2-2 tie in the fifth against Wada with his xth home run.
Buffaloes lefty Daiki Tajima loaded the bases in the first but allowed no runs, but allowed a single and a home run in the fourth, reserve catcher Hiroaki Takaya’s first of the season. Tyler Higgins kept the Hawks off the board in the bottom of the eighth with the help of backup catcher Torai Fushimi, who cut down lightning-fast pinch-runner Ukyo Shuto trying to steal second.
After a scoreless ninth by Hawks closer Yuito Mori (1-1), Matsuda singled off Buffaloes closer Brandon Dickson (0-3) and Nakamura tripled home pinch-runner Taisei Makihara to end it.
Villanueva lands 1st punch in slugfest
The Nippon Ham Fighters’ Christian Villanueva blasted a three-run, second-inning homer to open the scoring off lefty Daiki Enokida (0-1) who surrendered seven early runs in an 8-5 win over the Seibu Lions at MetLife Dome outside Tokyo.
Fighters starter Toshihiro Sugiura allowed three runs over 5-1/3 innings. He didn’t allow a run until the sixth, when two walks and a single opened the floodgates to a five-run Lions innings, highlighted by a three-run Corey Spangenberg home run.
Wheeler boosts well-coached Giants
Zelous Wheeler hit a two-run first-inning home run and put his team in front with a sixth-inning RBI single for the Yomiuri Giants, who took advantage of an umpire’s inattention in a 12-5 see-saw win against the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.
With the game tied 5-5 in the sixth, Wheeler put the Giants in front and cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto, hitless in his first three at-bats, singled in one more. A seven-hit five-run ninth turned the game into a rout.
The Swallows overturned their early deficit via a one-out Tetsuto Yamada home run, a Norichika Aoki walk and Munetaka Murakami’s 11th home run off Nattino Diplan. But the Giants retook the lead in the second with two runs against lefty Keiji Takahashi after a Hiroyuki Nakajima leadoff single and a double by rookie reserve catcher Yukinori Kishida.
The Swallows were denied an inning-ending double play because third base umpire Yoshiharu Yamaguchi wasn’t paying attention. Nakajima was caught between third and home on a grounder to third and beat a hasty retreat only to find Mota occupying the bag. Swallows catcher Yuhei Nakamura did the smart thing and tagged both men. Nakajima, mistakenly thinking he was out, walked off the bag until third base coach Koji Goto yanked him back.
Swallows manager Shingo Takatsu came out to argue but in the ump’s judgement, Goto preventing Nakajima from getting tagged out did not constitute help or he wasn’t looking. Either way, Hayato Sakamoto followed with a two-out two-run double.
Tomotaka Sakaguchi’s two-run homer in the fifth put Yakult back on top, only for Wheeler and the Giants to turn the game around once more.
Kishida walked to open the sixth, pinch-runner Daiki Masuda stole second and scored on Shinnosuke Shigenobu’s single. A walk put two on for Wheeler who singled between third and short.
Giants reliever Yuhei Takanashi (1-0) earned the win, extending his scoreless game streak to 15 with two scoreless innings.
Nomura pitches Carp past BayStars
Yusuke Nomura (3-1) allowed two runs over eight innings, while Shota Dobayashi and Seiya Suzuki each scored twice in the Hiroshima Carp’s 4-2 win over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohoma Stadium.
The Carp opened the scoring in the fourth on a one-out Dobayashi single, a Suzuki double and Ryuhei Matsuyama’s two-run single. In the home half, Carp center fielder Takayoshi Noma threw out Neftali Soto at the plate to end the inning. The BayStars tied it 2-2 in the fifth on Takayuki Kajitani’s 10th home run, but Dobayashi put the visitors ahead in the sixth. He walked, stole second and scored on Matsuyama’s second RBI single off Haruhiro Hamaguchi (3-3).
Suzuki’s 14th home run, off Spencer Patton in the ninth, completed the scoring, and Geronimo Franzua struck out the side in the bottom of the inning to record his seventh save.
Bour, Tigers maul Dragons
Justin Bour homered twice and drove in three runs, while Onelki Garcia (2-5) allowed two runs over six innings in the Hanshin Tigers’ 11-3 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Koshien Stadium.
Bour dropped his bombs against Dragons right-hander Koji Fukutani (2-2), who hit his first bump in the road in his transition to starting pitcher, allowing six runs in six innings to take the loss after four decent outings. The Tigers took the lead in the second when Bour hit his 11th of the season with two outs and none on. His two-run home run capped Hanshin’s five-run sixth
Hawks drop Despaigne, Higashihama
The SoftBank Hawks deactivated two-time Best Nine Award-winning designated hitter Alfredo Despaigne and Opening Day starter Nao Higashima on Wednesday.
The 34-year-old Despaigne has been suffering from pain in his left knee. The right-handed-hitting slugger returned to Japan in July with Cuban teammate Yurisbel Gracial and rejoined the first team on Friday and has appeared in three games.
Higashihama, named to start on Opening Day for the first time in June, was sent down due to a stiff neck. He threw 132 pitches in a five-inning start on Friday against the Lotte Marines in which he allowed three runs. The right-hander is 2-1 with a 2.96 ERA. He was replaced on the active roster by Wednesday’s starting pitcher, 39-year-old lefty Tsuyoshi Wada.
Moore back with 1st team
First-year import Matt Moore rejoined the Hawks first team on Wednesday for practice prior their game against Orix in Fukuoka. The 31-year-old lefty suffered a left calf injury on July 7.
“His leg is no issue,” manager Kimiyasu Kudo said. “Once he’s in games, we’ll control his pitch counts to some extent. I’ve watched video. The only thing that concerns me is the number of pitches.”
Elsewhere, the Orix Buffaloes deactivated first-baseman Aderlin Rodriguez, while the Central League’s DeNA BayStars dropped first baseman Jose Lopez.
The Seibu Lions snapped their former ace’s scoreless-inning streak but that was small consolation in their 6-2 loss to Hideaki Wakui (7-0) and the Rakuten Eagles at MetLife Dome outside Tokyo.
Hiroaki Shimauchi doubled with one out in the second and opened the scoring off 21-year-old right-hander Sho Ito (0-1) on a one-out single by Eagles catcher Hikaru Ota. Shimauchi doubled and scored in the fourth on Ota’s second homer of the year.
Coming off a one-hit shutout in his previous start, Wakui had not allowed a run since the first inning of his start on July 29. He was in complete command until a couple of lazy fastballs resulted in seventh-inning solo homers by Tomoya Mori and Ernesto Mejia, who had homered twice on Tuesday. Wakui left the game hurt with two outs and 40-year-old right-hander Yuya Kubo had to finish off pinch-hitter Hotaka Yamakawa for the final out.
Wakui allowed two runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out two and started a season 7-0 for the first time in his career.
Ito, the Lions’ third draft pick in 2017, suffered his first pro loss. He allowed three runs on two walks and seven hits over four-plus innings.
J.T. Chargois and Alan Busenitz each worked a scoreless inning for the Eagles, who are locked in a tie for first place in the Pacific League with the SoftBank Hawks.
Buffaloes still can’t solve Wada
Tsuyoshi Wada is 39-years-old and in his 13th season in Japan, but at the speed their going, the Orix Buffaloes may never figure him out. The lefty allowed three singles and no walks while striking out five over 6-2/3 scoreless innings in the SoftBank Hawks’ 6-0 win at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.
“This has been going on for a long time,” Buffaloes manager Norifumi Nishimura said of Wada, who shut them out over six innings on July 15. “We have to find a way to hit him.”
Nobuhiro Matsuda, dropped to the No. 9 spot for lack of hits, went 2-for-4 with three RBIs to raise his batting average to .205.
Nakata routs Marines
Nippon Ham Fighters cleanup hitter Sho Nakata hit his 14th and 15th home runs and drove in six runs in a 12-4 rout of the Lotte Marines at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.
Nakata opened the scoring in the first inning with a two-out, two-run homer off lefty Kazuya Oda (3-4), who gave up six runs over 6-2/3 innings to take the loss. Leading 4-1 in the seventh, Nakata iced it with a three-run shot.
Side-arm Fighters lefty Naoki Miyanishi (35) reached 350 career holds. No. 2 on the list is former Giants lefty Tetsuya Yamaguchi, who had 273.
Sakamoto powers Giants as Sugano wins 7th
Hayato Sakamoto homered twice and Tomoyuki Sugano (7-0 ) allowed a run over x innings for the Yomiuri Giants in an 8-1 win over the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo Dome
The Swallows took the lead on two-out second-inning doubles by Takeshi Miyamoto and Alcides Escobar, but the Giants effectively put the game out of reach in the home half against Juri Hara (2-1).
A leadoff walk, an error, and a sacrifice put two in scoring position and No. 8 hitter Naoki Yoshikawa singled in both of them. With two outs, Sakamoto hit his eighth home run, and Gerardo Parra followed with his fourth to make it 5-1. Prior to his first homer, Sakamoto had been hitless in 20 plate appearances.
Vieira brings the heat
Brazilian flame thrower Thyago Vieira became the second pitcher recorded at 163 kph (101.3 mph). The NPB record is 165 kph, set by Shohei Ohtani.
Dragons’ Yanagi shuts down Carp
Yuya Yanagi (2-2) allowed a run over 7-2/3 innings for the Chunichi Dragons in their 4-1 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.
Yanagi allowed four hits and a walk while striking out four. Lefty Kris Johnson (0-4) gave up four runs, three earned, on five hits and four walks without a strikeout over 5-1/3 innings.
Nobumasa Fukuda drew a leadoff walk in the fourth and opened the scoring on a Dayan Viciedo single and a groundout. Masataka Iryo singled in another run to make it 2-0 Dragons. Fukuda opened the Dragons’ two-run seventh with a single and scored when Iryo drew a bases-loaded walk.
Raidel Martinez worked the ninth to earn his seventh save.
Tigers hold off BayStars
Masahiro Nakatani’s three-run fourth-inning home run brought the Hanshin Tigers from behind and they held on for a 7-6 win over the DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium.
Jerry Sands followed Nakatani with his eighth home run to make it 6-3, while Joe Gunkel pitched a scoreless inning of relief for the Tigers. Robert Suarez allowed a run on three hits in the ninth to nail down his seventh save.
BayStars Austin diagnosed with concussion
DeNA BayStars outfielder Tyler Austin has been diagnosed with concussion and whiplash the Hochi Shimbun reported Wednesday. The 28-year-old in his first Japanese season, slammed into the outfield wall at Koshien Stadium on July 31.
He was deactivated on Aug. 5 and rules would allow him to return as early as Aug. 15, but BayStars manager Alex Ramirez said he he didn’t expect Austin to return that soon.
The player is now being treated at the club’s farm and rehab facility in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, to return this week.
In 22 games, Austin has posted a .393 on-base percentage and a .627 slugging average.
Murakami joins monthly MVP frequent flyers
Yakult Swallows corner infielder Munetaka Murakami, the Central League’s 2019 Rookie of the year, was named the league’s hitter of the month for June and July–Ok it’s the (position) player of the month–but the selectors don’t seem to understand defense is part of the game.
It was the first monthly award for the 20-year-old, although had some veteran company as Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano was named pitcher of the month for the seventh time. The Pacific League’s awards went to four-time winning pitcher Hideaki Wakui of the Rakuten Eagles and six-time winning center fielder Yuki Yanagita of the SoftBank Hawks.
The awards have traditionally gone to hitters with the best triple crown stats and the starting pitcher with the most wins and no more than one loss.
Murakami led the CL with 37 RBIs, had the league’s second-best on-base-percentage (.441). Sugano went 5-0 to lead the league in wins while throwing two complete games, including a one-hit shutout.
The NPB blurb babbles on about how Sugano was entrusted with starting on Opening Day for the sixth time, and how he was the winning pitcher in the franchise’s 6,000th win which have absolutely nothing to do with whether or not he was the best pitcher in the league.
Wakui became the first PL player to win a monthly award with three teams after winning with Seibu and Lotte, and is the second after current DeNA BayStars manager Alex Ramirez to win with three different clubs (Yakult, Yomiuri, DeNA). The award is his first in four years.
The 34-year-old right-hander, who was sold by the Marines to the Eagles over the winter, had 9.88 strikeouts per nine innings, the highest figure among ERA leader eligible pitchers.
Yanagita scored 38 runs in 37 games, a rare reference in these awards to runs scored and also led the PL in hits, triples, total bases, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging average. Because of a leg injury last season, Yanagita lacked the plate appearances needed to lead the league in on-base percentage and slugging average for the fifth-straight time.
Only Hall of Famer Sadaharu led his league in both categories more than three years straight. Here’s another look at his one-handed home run on Tuesday:
Hideaki Wakui continued to look like the best pitcher in either league this year in an impressive one-hit eight-strikeout 6-0 win over the Rakuten Eagles over the SoftBank Hawks on Wednesday.
Wakui (6-0) retired the Hawks in order in the first but labored through it. Although the visitors were unable to hit his rising fastball, Kenta Imamiya and Yuki Yanagita fouled off a total of 10 of them before they went down swinging at his slider. Although Wakui walked two batters and allowed a ninth-inning single, that first inning represented the Hawks’ best effort against him.
Tsuyoshi Wada (3-1) gave up a couple of quick no-out singles and caught a break when Hideto Asamura lined a pitch away off the end of the bat that was caught on a leap by first baseman Kenji Akashi for an out instead of going for a single.
Wakui tightened up his command from the second to keep his pitch count under control, while Wada issued leadoff walks in the third and fourth. The lefty, however, could not work around a one-out double in the fifth by Kazuki Tanaka.
Wada got ahead of Tanaka 0-2 but the PL’s 2018 rookie of the year pulled a straight fastball in the heart of the zone down the line in left. After a wild pitch put Tanaka on third, rookie Hiroto Kobukata put a good swing on a 3-1 slider that got too much of the plate and lined it into center for an RBI single.
Daichi Suzuki did a good job to get the bat head on a pitch low and away with Kobukata on the go and hit a little fly into left to put runners on the corners. Wada left a pitch up in the zone tailor-made for a sacrifice fly, and Jabari Blash did his duty with a fly to deep center. Back-to-back singles by Hideto Asamura and Hiroaki Shimauchi made it 3-0.
Wada allowed three runs on seven hits and three walks over five innings. He struck out one.
The Eagles added two more runs in the sixth off right-hander Arata Shiino and an unearned run in the eighth. Tanaka walked twice, doubled twice and scored three of the Eagles’ six runs.
Wakui did not allow a base runner until a one-out walk to catcher Hiroaki Takaya in the sixth. He retired the next seven hitters, but with two outs in the eighth, he seemed to lose his rhythm. Retiring Wladimir Balentien on one pitch when his check swing produced and easy grounder to first, seemed to surprise the right-hander. He walked the next batter before notching his first strikeout since the second.
Wakui, who appears to have practiced jokes for use in postgame hero interviews, said it wasn’t the pressure that threw him off but player coach Naoto Watanabe.
“Nobody would look me in the eye, so I guess they were all conscious of it (the no-hit bid), then after the seventh inning, I made contact with Naoto, and he started grinning at me. I started laughing and I think that threw off my concentration a bit,” Wakui said.
Whatever it was, Wakui showed no signs of it in the ninth. Athough a few of his fastballs lacked their earlier pop, the only hit the Hawks managed was Keizo Kawashima’s broken-bat one-out looper between second and short. After a meeting on the mound, Wakui struck out the last two batters, Imamiya and Yanagita to end it.
Spangenberg, Yamakawa power Lions
Cory Spangenberg and Hotaka Yamakawa each hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning as the Seibu Lions came from behind to beat Nick Martinez (1-4) on his 30th birthday and the Nippon Ham Fighters 7-2 at Sapporo Dome.
A day after he drove in six runs, Taishi Ota got the Fighters started in the second against 21-year-old Lions right-hander Sho Ito. Ota singled, took second on a wild pitch and scored on a Toshitake Yokoo single.
After managing just two hits against Martinez through five innings, the Lions took the lead with one down in the sixth. Sosuke Genda singled off a hanging knuckle curve, and Spangenberg punished a poor cutter that came in high and over the plate for his sixth homer of the season. Yamakawa followed a Tomoya Mori single with his 13th home run.
Shuta Tonosaki completed the scoring in the inning when he reached on an error, stole second and scored from third on a Fumikazu Kimura single.
Martinez allowed five runs, four earned, on six hits over 5-1/3 innings.
Ito allowed a run on one walk and five hits while striking out four.
Katsunori Hirai (4-2) earned the win in by striking out cleanup hitter Sho Nakata to end the Fighters fifth and strand two runners. Kaima Taira worked 1-2/3 innings but allowed an inherited runner to score although all five outs he recorded were on strikeouts. Reed Garrett and Tatsushi Masuda finished up with one scoreless frame each.
Marines take no prisoners in Osaka
A two-out Hisanori Yasuda double opened the scoring in the fourth and the Lotte Marines didn’t let up in a 12-1 butt-kicking of the Orix Buffaloes at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.
The Marines opened the scoring when Shogo Nakamura singled, Leonys Martin walked and both came home on Yasuda’s no-out double to the gap in right. Although he’s not among the league leaders in hard-hit ball percentage on Delta Graphs, it seems like every ball he hits is HARD. With one out, Tsuyoshi Sugano took Yu Suzuki out for his second home run of the year and a 4-0 Lotte lead.
Suzuki (1-3) allowed eight runs over 4-2/3 runs. Marines starter Kazuya Ojima (3-3) gave up a run over six innings.
Togo beats Fujinami, defenseless Tigers
Shosei Togo (4-2) struck out 10 as he allowed a run over seven-plus innings to earn the win as the Yomiuri Giants beat the Hanshin Tigers 4-1 at Koshien Stadium.
Tigers right-hander Shintaro Fujinami (0-3) was overpowering when he could put his fastball and cutter in the zone and get hitters to chase his splitter out of the zone, but he missed often enough to allow four runs, one earned, on four hits and a walk over eight innings
Akihiro Wakabayashi made a good catch in right to end the Tigers’ second, and then singled in the game’s first run in the third against Shintaro Fujinami. Naoki Yoshikawa drew a leadoff walk and went to second on pitcher Shosei Togo’s one-out sacrifice and scored easily on Wakabayashi’s single.
The Giants padded their lead in a three-run sixth when Togo reached because Fujinami misjudged his chopper in front of the mound for an error. With one out, he made a mistake to Hayato Sakamoto, who ripped it to right for a single. A miss-hit high fastball was good for the second out, but cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto did well to launch a fastball away to the right field corner for an RBI double that came close to being caught.
Left fielder Jerry Sands then misjudged a fly to shallow left from Takumi Oshiro that fell for an RBI single and a four-run lead.
The Tigers had a chance to come back in the eighth after back-to-back singles drove Togo from the game, but Yusuke Oyama missed a fat pitch with two outs and the bases loaded to end the inning.
Hamaguchi, Sano skewer Dragons
Haruhiro Hamaguchi allowed a run over five innings and Keita Sano drove in three runs in the DeNA BayStars’ 8-2 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Yokohama Stadium.
Hamaguchi got out of a bases-loaded pickle in a scoreless first inning with the first of his eight strikeouts as Yota Kyoda couldn’t hold up on a ball in the dirt. The BayStars then opened the scoring against Yuya Yanagi, pitching on the first team for the first time in a month after suffering an oblique muscle injury.
Jose Lopez singled off the wall in left with one out and the bases loaded to score Kazuki Kamizato and Neftali Soto, who had doubled on a ball that right fielder Masataka Iryo misjudged.
The visitors got on the board in the third through Iryo’s leadoff infield single and a Yohei Oshima double but the hosts were unstoppable.
Kyoda opened the door for the BayStars to score again in the bottom of the third, when he dropped a fly at shortstop to allow the leadoff man on. After a groundout, Kamizato scored from second on a Keita Sano single.
Nomura, Carp bullpen hold off Swallows
Yusuke Nomura (2-0) allowed a run over seven innings and Shota Dobayashi scored twice in the Hiroshima Carp’s 4-1 win over the Yakult Swallows at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.
Rookie right-hander Hiroki Onishi (0-1), Yakult’s fourth-round pick last autumn, gave up three first-inning singles, with Ryuhei Matsuyama bringing home Dobayashi to make it 1-0 Carp, who left the bases loaded.
Takeshi Miyamoto, a reserve infielder playing while superstar Tetsuto Yamada regains fitness, homered to tie it off Nomura in the second.
Onishi pitched out of a tough spot in the third and struck out the side in the fourth, but a hard-hit infield single and a Hisayoshi Chono double put the Carp in front in the fifth. The Carp added two runs off the bullpen from Dobayashi’s eighth home run and Tsubasa Aizawa’s third.
Yakult loaded the bases in the in the eighth, but lefty Atsuya Horie pitched left the bags juiced, and Geronimo Franzua notched his third save in the ninth.
Hawks rehab group staff member tests positive
The SoftBank Hawks reported Wednesday that one staff member with the organization’s rehab group in Chikugo, Fukuoka Prefecture, has tested positive for the coronavirus.
The rehab group shares the organization’s minor league facility with the Western League farm team and the Hawks’ third team, and for that reason, minor league activities have been suspended.
The Hawks tested around 200 people on Sunday the day after veteran outfielder Yuya Hasegawa, who is currently with the minor league team, tested positive. One member of the first-team staff, who was asymptomatic, has also tested positive and those who were deemed to have been in close contact with him have been sent home.
BayStars’ Austin, Marines’ Laird dropped
DeNA BayStars manager Alex Ramirez said Wednesday the team will deactivate outfielder Tyler Austin following his crash against Koshien Stadium’s right field wall on July 31 according to the Daily Sports, while the Pacific League’s Lotte Marines have deactivated third baseman Brandon Laird.
Austin hurt his neck trying to catch a fly at the wall, and it has been stiff ever since.
Laird has been serving as the Marines’ DH recently with rookie cleanup hitter Hisanori Yasuda starting in his place at third base. On Tuesday, he was pinch-hit for in the sixth inning due to a stiff back.