Wednesday brought a Jingu slugfest that wasn’t another game of Munetaka Murakami slugging solitaire for a change, although Domingo Santana did his level best. Roki Sasaki returned to duty, while Tomoya Mori and Kotaro Kiyomiya both had big nights while we learned that a SoftBank rookie went under the knife.
Ozeki has surgery
In the bad news department, rookie Hawks lefty Tomohisa Ozeki had surgery on Tuesday after an examination a week earlier raised the suspicion that he might have testicular cancer. The team said he is expected to be hospitalized for a week.
In January 2019, Tigers catcher Fumihito Haraguchi had underwent colon cancer surgery and returned to the majors that June.
Eagles 5, Marines 4: At Miyagi Stadium, Lotte gave Roki Sasaki (6-2) a two-run first-inning lead against soft-tossing southpaw Wataru Karashima, but Sasaki couldn’t locate either his forkball, something that’s been a problem for a while now, or his slider, a pitch that has become increasingly effective.
Shuta Ishikawa struck out a career-high 13 in a one-hit shutout, and Ryoya Kurihara hit a three-run home run in the first inning as the SoftBank Hawks ran over the Seibu Lions 4-0 on Saturday at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.
Ishikawa (3-0) had some trouble locating but stayed around the strike zone with a live fastball that sat at 90.7 mph, a good slider, curve and split. The right-hander struck out five of the first seven batters he faced, and was fortunate that most of his mistakes were either miss-hit or slammed straight to one of his fielders.
Keizo Kawashima, batting in the Hawks’ second spot, sparked a three-run first inning with a one-out double when he pulled a hanging 1-0 slider form Keisuke Honda down the line in left.
Yuki Yanagita just missed a hanging first-pitch curve, driving it to the warning track in dead center, and Akira Nakamura worked a seven-pitch walk thanks to a favorable call on a close 2-2 fastball that might have ended the inning.
Honda got ahead of Kurihara 0-2 but his 1-2 fastball missed up and over the plate. The left-handed-hitting Kurihara got it off the end of the bat but still got enough of it to drive it into the “home run terrace” in left for his seventh home run.
Kawashima led off the third with a double. One pitch after he thought he had drawn a walk, he drilled a low 3-2 fastball to the wall in left center. He scored when Yanagita grounded a low strike up the middle for a single.
VerHagen outduels Tajima in Fighters’ win
Drew VerHagen (3-1) threw seven scoreless innings to outduel tough Orix Buffaloes lefty Daiki Tajima in a 3-1 win for the Nippon Ham Fighters at their Sapporo Dome home.
VerHagen allowed four hits and a walk, while striking out four. The only leadoff runner he allowed, Adam Jones on a single in the second, was followed by a double play.
Buffaloes slugger Masataka Yoshida was trouble, squaring VerHagen up twice and walking. But one drive was caught at the warning track, the fourth-inning leadoff walk was followed by back-to-back strikeouts of Adam Jones and Steven Moya. VerHagen followed Yoshida’s two-out sixth-inning double by striking out Jones on a slider away.
Tajima (1-2) allowed two runs on five hits, three walks and a hit batsman over six innings. He struck out four. The lefty cruised through five innings but his third trip through the Fighters lineup proved fatal.
Yuji Takahama’s soft liner over the infield got the Fighters a one-out runner, and Buffaloes center fielder Hayato Nishiura’s attempt to make a shoestring catch resulted in an error on Kensuke Kondo’s single.
With two outs and the bases loaded, Tajima hoped for a low strike with a fastball, but Ryo Watanabe stroked it into left for an RBI single. The lefty then hit Toshitake Yoko to make it 2-0.
VerHagen worked a 1-2-3 seventh. Lefty Naoki Miyanishi allowed a run in the eighth before closer Ryo Akiyoshi nailed down his eighth save in the ninth.
Uchida, Shiomi haze Marines
Lefty Takahiro Shiomi (2-3) worked seven innings, and Yasuhito Uchida hit his second grand slam of the season for the Rakuten Eagles who put the Lotte Marines through an 8-0 recruit hazing of at Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium.
Marines starter Atsuki Taneichi (3-2) had been effective this season, but a week after his first career shutout, couldn’t locate his pitches. He missed up and in the zone a lot and the Eagles hit enough of them to run away with it in a five-run first.
Former Marines captain Daichi Suzuki pulled a first-pitch fastball that missed in the heart of the plate into the right field corner for a one-out double. Eigoro Mogi smashed the second hanging splitter he saw for a ground single.
Taneichi survived a mistake to Hideto Asamura, who flied out, but then missed up in the heart of the zone with a 1-1 fastball, and Hiroaki Shimauchi lashed a hard single to center. Trailing now by a run, the right-hander brushed Stefen Romero with his first pitch to load them up with two outs.
After a good first-pitch slider, Taneichi missed up with another and Uchida launched it over the fence in center.
Asamura put the game completely out of reach in the seventh with a three-run double.
Shiomi allowed three hits and four walks, but the Marines obliged him by hitting into three double plays. Taneichi surrendered all eight runs on 12 hits, three walks and a hit batsman over 5-2/3 innings.
Oshima makes winner of Katsuno
Rookie right-hander Akiyoshi Katsuno won a pitchers’ duel with Yasuhiro “Ryan” Ogawa after Yohei Oshima delivered a tie-breaking two-run eighth-inning single in a 3-1 win over the Yakult Swallows at Nagoya Dome.
Katsuno (1-2), the Dragons third pick in the 2018 draft, allowed a run on four hits and no walks while striking out six over eight innings. He was coming off six scoreless innings in his previous start.
Singles by Masataka Iryo and Oshima set the table for a run to score on a two-out throwing error. Ogawa, however, only allowed two more runners to reach through seven innings.
The Swallows got even in the fifth on a pair of good swings. Takeshi Miyamoto doubled with one out and scored on Munetaka Murakami’s two-out single.
Katsuno didn’t allow a leadoff man to reach in the entire game thanks to some sparkling defense from second baseman Toshiki Abe in the seventh and shortstop Yota Kyoda in the eighth.
Miyamoto doubled with one out in the sixth, but with two outs struck out Murakami swinging at a high fastball and retired the next six batters to keep it 1-1 going into the bottom of the eighth.
Nobumasa Fukuda smoked a first-pitch forkball low in the zone for a Dragons leadoff double. Ogawa fumbled the ensuing sacrifice bunt, putting runners at the corners with no outs, and then walked Iryo to load the bases for Oshima.
Ogawa made an 0-2 pitch on the inside edge, but Oshima turned on it and drove it right for a two-run single. Iryo was thrown out trying to go to third, and surprising Swallows lefty Hiroki Hasegawa got out of the inning.
Raidel Martinez closed it out in a 1-2-3 ninth for his fifth save.
Ogawa (4-1) was charged with one earned run on five hits and two walks over 7-1/3 innings. He struck out six.
BayStars reach for the seats to back Imanaga
Lefty Shota Imanaga (4-2) allowed two runs over seven innings and the DeNA BayStars hit five home runs in a 7-3 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Koshien Stadium.
The BayStars built a 2-0 lead against Yuki Nishi on solo homers by Neftali Soto in the first and former Tiger Yamato Maeda in the fourth only for Tigers catcher Ryutaro Umeno to cancel them out with a two-run single in the bottom of the fourth.
Koji Chikamoto opened with his second hit of the night against Imanaga. With one out, the lefty walked both Yusuke Oyama and Justin Bour to load them for Umeno, who had cracked a three-run homer in Friday’s 3-3 tie.
A one-out hit batsman in the fifth and cleanup hitter Keita Sano’s fifth home run made it 4-2. Toshiro Miyazaki homered to lead off the sixth, and Takayuki Kajitani did the same in the seventh.
Nishi (2-3) gave up five runs on seven hits. He struck out six and hit two.
Giants clobber Carp
Yomiuri Giants lefty Kazuto Taguchi, pitching on the first team for the first time in nearly a month, allowed two runs over seven innings in an 11-3 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Tokyo Dome.
Taguchi (2-0) surrendered the lead on back-to-back two-out first-inning doubles by former Giants Hisayoshi Chono and Seiya Suzuki, but was able to pitch out of the little trouble he faced until Jose Pirela’s pinch-hit leadoff homer in the seventh.
Giants cleanup hitter Kazuma Okamoto doubled to lead off the second against lefty Hiroki Tokoda (1-4) and scored the tying run on Zelous Wheeler’s single.
Yoshiyuki Kamei doubled and scored on first baseman Ryuhei Matsuyama’s throwing error when former Carp Yoshihiro Maru bunted for a base hit with two on and no outs.
With one out and runners on second and third, Wheeler delivered a sacrifice fly, and Hiroyuki Nakajima followed with an RBI double.
Wheeler finished with two runs, two RBIs and three hits, while Okamaoto blew the game open with his Central League-leading 14th home run, a sixth-inning grand slam.