1-strike pitch to Yuma
Buffaloes 6, Lions 3
At MetLife Dome, Orix performed two different versions of the Elmore Leonard western “3:10 to Yuma.” Instead of an impoverished rancher getting a villain onto a train bound for Yuma Arizona, the NPB versions involved downtrodden Buffaloes getting the surviving dangerous Lions –on two fastballs: a 2-1 pitch to Yuma Tongu and a 1-1 heater to Yuma Mune.
Tongu’s fourth home run, a three-run sixth-inning homer, opened the scoring. Mune’s, a low liner to center against a drawn-in Lions outfield, iced the game in the eighth. Mune’s was his third of the season and his second in two games.
Keita Sano and Adam Jones co-starred in both versions, opening the sixth and eighth inning with singles off Tetsu Miyagawa (0-1) in the sixth and Ryosuke Moriwaki in the eighth, and then before the Lions knew it, or “あっという間” (attoiuma) as they say in Japanese, it was Yuma time.
The Lions got two back in the seventh against 19-year-old Buffaloes’ lefty Hiroya Miyagi, who had faced one batter over the minimum to that point. A leadoff walk and a single set up one-out Takumi Kuriyama and Cory Spangenberg RBI singles.
The Lions came within a hair of tying it when Wu Nien Ting lined a pitch down the left field line that was ruled to have gone foul by smidgen – or a 10th of a smidge. Wu struck out and Miyagi was charged with two runs over 6-2/3 innings on two walks, a hit batsman and four hits. The rookie struck out five.
By the way, I went to two games at Tigers Stadium in 1999, to see Masao Kida, who earned his only major league game the first night, the same game that Elmore Leonard kicked off by throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.
The Seibu Lions wasted five scoreless innings from Matt Dermody, whose biggest difficulty in his Japan debut was navigating umpire Shinichiro Hara’s strike zone. Dermody struck out three, walked three and allowed five hits.
Eagles 7, Hawks 4
Eagles 7, Hawks 4
At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, Hideto Asamura scored three runs and drove in two as the Rakuten Eagles overcame an early three-run deficit. Ryota Takinaka (2-2) struggled with his control in the first inning, when two of SoftBank’s three runs were unearned, but settled in to go five innings.
SoftBank starter Akira Niho (0-1) cruised through four innings but allowed an unearned run in the fourth and was lit up in the fifth. Asamura, who singled and scored in the fourth, tied it with a two-out, two-run double and scored on a Hiroaki Shimauchi single.
With two outs and first base open in the seventh, the Hawks elected to walk Asamura intentionally, but he scored on a two-run Shimauchi double.
Yuki Matsui earned his eighth save, but the Hawks made him work for it with some gritty at-bats in a 23-pitch inning.
BayStars 2, Dragons 1
At Nagoya’s Vantelin Dome, DeNA starting pitcher Michael Peoples (1-0) couldn’t have arrived at a more opportune time for the Central League’s last-place BayStars. The second-year right-hander struck out six while allowing four hits and walking none over six scoreless innings to win a pitchers’ duel with another 2021 debutant, Chunichi’s Kodai Umetsu (0-1).
Umetsu allowed two runs, one earned, over five innings on two hits, two walks and a hit batsman. The BayStars took the lead thanks to a leadoff error that allowed Peoples to reach and score on a walk, a sacrifice and a groundout. Keita Sano made it 2-0 in the sixth, when he hammered a hanging slider from Keisuke Tanimoto for his third home run.
After a scoreless seventh by Edwin Escobar, right fielder Tyler Austin just barely misjudged a ball, turning a double into a leadoff triple, and allowing Akira Neo to score from third on a ground out against Yasuaki Yamasaki. But that was it for Chunichi’s offense as Kazuki Mishima struck out Mike Gerber and Dayan Viciedo en route to a 1-2-3 ninth and his fifth save.
Giants 3, Carp 2
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Zelous Wheeler hit the Yomiuri Giants’ third home run, a seventh-inning tie-breaking shot off Masato Morishita (3-3), and Yohei Kagiya (1-0) retired all four batters he faced, including Kevin Cron after he inherited a two-out bases-loaded jam to earn the win.
Hayato Sakamoto fifth homer opened the scoring for the Giants, and Yoshihiro Maru’s second tied it in the sixth. Hiroshima’s Seiya Suzuki hit a two-run shot in the third. The Giants used four pitchers to get through the ninth. Thyago Vieira entered with one out and surrendered two hits. Yuhei Takanashi entered with two outs and the bases loaded and retired pinch-hitter Kosuke Tanaka to earn his first save.
Lions vs Buffaloes: MetLife Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Hawks vs Eagles: PayPay Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Swallows vs Tigers: Jingu Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Dragons vs BayStars: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Carp vs Giants: Mazda Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Active roster moves 5/3/2021
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 5/13