On Friday, we had some news about Seiya Suzuki. I’ve written about his physical playing skills and attributes on his profile page, and on Saturday I wrote about why I expect Suzuki will succeed where some other Japanese stars have struggled in MLB.
Otherwise today, we’ve got news about three managers and some teams whose Halloween tricks and treats came early in Saturday’s games.
Tomoya Mori snatched the victor’s laurels from Orix Buffaloes center fielder Hayato Nishiura with a three-run eighth-inning double that lifted the Seibu Lions to a 5-4 win at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.
Nishiura saved three runs with in the first, robbing Ernesto Mejia of a two-out double at the wall. He went up to get it before it hit the ball and caught it between his arms, cradling it for the out after he crashed to the turf.
Ryo Ota, a former top draft pick whose 2019 debut season was limited by injury, homered off Wataru Matsumoto in the first to put the Buffaloes up 1-0. Another rookie, 2018 fifth-rounder Sho Gibo, doubled in a run with two outs in the third. Steven Moya’s second homer of the year made it 3-0.
Nishiura preserved a 3-0 lead in the top of the fifth. Playing shallow with two outs and a runner on second as Japanese teams do, Nishiura had to race back into the gap in right-center, making an over-the-shoulder basket catch for the final out.
He followed that by leading off the bottom of the fifth with home run into the second deck.
Orix starter Andrew Albers allowed two runs over six innings on seven hits, a walk and a hit batsman.
The Lions finally got to the lefty in the sixth when Sosuke Genda singled and scored on Hotaka Yamakawa’s 22nd home run.
Right-hander Ryo Yoshida, the Buffaloes’ third reliever, took over in the seventh with one on and one out but walked the bases loaded with two outs and gave up Mori’s double.
On the other side, four Lions relievers followed Matsumoto and combined to allow one walk and one hit. Tatsushi Masuda recorded his 20th save.
Eagles survive Hawks comeback
Eagles closer Alan Busenitz came within a hair of blowing a two-run ninth-inning lead, earning the save when a rocket off Ryoya Kurihara’s bat was caught by first baseman Daichi Suzuki for the final out as Rakuten beat the SoftBank Hawks 3-2 at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome on Sunday.
Suzuki tied the game 1-1 on the first pitch in the fourth. Shuta Ishikawa (6-3) left a fastball up and Suzuki lined it off the wall behind the right-field home run terrace. Hawks catcher Takuya Kai, who’d homered to open the scoring minutes earlier tried not to shake his head but failed.
Eagles veteran Takayuki Kishi got out of a sixth-inning jam when Akira Nakamura, who swings and misses as infrequently as any hitter in Japan, struck out swinging for the second out. After an intentional walk to Yuki Yanagita, Kishi got out of the inning with an easy groundout.
Stefen Romero put the Eagles up by one in the seventh, hitting an 0-1 power curve. Ishikawa supplied the curve by hanging it up in the zone and Romero supplied the power, launching it 10 rows back into the permanent seats.
Former San Diego submariner Kazuhisa Makita surrendered a two-out two-strike single to Nakamura. Yanagita came up with a chance to put the hosts in front, but went down swinging. Hiroaki Shimauchi then took out some insurance by taking reliever Yuki Matsumoto’s first pitch out to left for a solo homer to open the ninth.
Takayuki Kishi allowed a run over a season-high six innings in his fifth start of the Eagles.
The Hawks loaded the bases against closer Alan Busenitz with one out in the ninth on two singles and a fielder’s choice. Go Kamamoto singled in one run, but Busenitz got a force out at the plate before Suzuki was impaled by Kurihara’s liner.
Fighters give one away
Shohei Kato scored the tying run from second on a passed ball-throwing error with his team down to their last strike and then tripled in two runs in the 10th to lead the Lotte Marines to a 5-3 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters at Sapporo Dome.
Rookie catcher Toshiya Sato’s two-run sixth-inning homer brought Lotte to within a run, after Marines starter Manabu Mima allowed three runs in the first but lasted eight innings.
Kato came on to run after Seiya Inoue singled with one out off Taisho Tamai. A two out walk put runners on first and second.
Tamai got ahead of Tsuyoshi Sugano 0-2, but catcher Yushi Shimizu failed to catch a 1-2 changeup. It popped up off the heel of his glove and by the time caught it Kato was on third, but the runner on first was well of the base. Sensing a chance to end the game, Shimizu gunned a throw to first that glanced off first baseman Kotaro Kiyomiya’s glove, allowing Kato to score.
Marines closer Naoya Masuda (2-2) got into trouble in the bottom of the ninth. Regular cleanup hitter, Sho Nakata, who started the game on the bench, came on to pinch hit flew out to short for the third out.
With two out and two on in the 10th, Kato drilled a pitch from Kenya Suzuki (0-1) to the gap to plate two. Recently acquired reliever Hirokazu Sawamura took over in the bottom of the 10th. He issued three two-out walks before getting a groundout to record his first save of the year.
Hatake plows under BayStars
Right-hander Shusei Hatake (1-3), making an emergency start in place of lefty Cristopher Mercedes, worked six innings and Yoshihiro Maru homered twice and drove in three as the Yomiuri Giants beat the DeNA BayStars 5-0 at Yokohama Stadium. The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Giants.
DeNA right-hander Shinichi Onuki (6-4) allowed four runs, three earned, over six innings to take the loss. A single, a stolen base, a throwing error and a Hayato Sakamoto single put the Giants up in the first. Maru hit his 16th homer in the fourth with a man on and went deep again in the sixth.
Dragons light up Nakata in win over Tigers
The Chunichi Dragons scored three runs in two innings off veteran right-hander Kenichi Nakata (0-2) en route to a 4-2 win over the Hanshin Tigers at Nagoya Dome.
After a 1-2-3 first against the team for which he won the bulk of his 100 career games, Nakata allowed four straight hits in the second, bringing in two runs, while a third scored on a safety squeeze.
Takahiro Matsuba (3-4) allowed two runs over five innings. The only two runs came when pinch-hitter Kenya Nagasaka homered with a man on after his foul pop was dropped but not ruled an error. Four relievers combined to allow one hit and two walks over the final four innings with Raidel Martinez earning his 13th save.
Swallows survive ninth-inning horror show
The Yakult Swallows opened the home half of the first with three straight home runs before nearly blowing a seven-run ninth-inning lead with starter Yasuhiro Ogawa (9-3) on the mound in an 8-6 win over the Hiroshima Carp at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium.
Ogawa worked a 1-2-3 first, and in a sense, so did Carp starter Yuta Nakamura (0-1), who watched three of his first 14 pitches end up as souvenirs for the Carp fans in the left-field bleachers. It was the fifth time a team had homered in its first three plate appearances and the first time since the Dragons did it at Yokohama Stadium in 1995.
The Swallows entered the top of the ninth with an 8-1 lead and kept Ogawa on the mound after he had thrown just 101 pitches. After a double, a single and a double play, things were still looking good for manager Shingo Takatsu’s plan not to use his bullpen with the last three of nine straight games looming.
But five straight hits off straight fastballs and hanging breaking balls, the last off Ogawa’s 123rd pitch, finally forced a change. Closer Taishi Ishiyama allowed the tying run on with a single before getting a strikeout that ended the game and earned him his 11th save.