League play resumed in Japan on Friday with four games. All six Pacific League teams were in action, while the Hiroshima Carp, who fell out of first place during interleague were in Yokohama in the Central League’s only game.
Hawks 7, Fighters 5
At Sapporo Dome, Kodai Senga and Kohei Arihara, the two hottest PL pitchers from the start of the season, showed some superb pitches, but were inconsistent in their location in a pitcher’s duel that turned out nothing like the announcers promised in the buildup.
Senga walked four and struck out a season-low five and gave up a bunch of hard-hit balls that allowed him to only give up one run over six innings.
Arihara, who started the season as a machine, getting everybody to swing and miss at his changeup, also gave up some shots while walking three and striking out four as he allowed three runs over six innings.
Here are the Hawks, Fighters highlights.
Marines 6, Eagles 5
At Rakuten Seimei Park, Rakuten had to call on closer Yuki Matsui, who did not see action on Tuesday because they wanted to give him six days off before pitching again perhaps?
Anyway, the lefty couldn’t find the strike zone. He got the first two batters out after falling behind but walked the next three. Afterward he said, “I should have been tougher with the bases loaded.”
Here are Marines, Eagles highlights.
Buffaloes 4, Lions 0
At Metlife Dome, Yoshinobu Yamamoto struck out 11 and walked two to win a tight pitchers’ duel with the Lions’ Tatsuya Ishii, who allowed one run over eight innings. It was the 20-year-old Yamamoto’s first career shutout and his first win since May 28.
Here are the Buffaloes-Lions highlights.
BayStars 13, Carp 3
At Yokohama Stadium, Jose Lopez and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo ruined my story about Alejandro Mejia’s first big game of the season after getting promoted back from Hiroshima’s farm team.
Lopez and Tsutsugo each belted a pair of homers while headline writers discarded themes such as “BayStars drop bombs on Hiroshima,” while Neftali Soto, last year’s CL champ, hit his league-leading 23rd home run.
My minor league season records go back to 1991, and during that span only eight players have hit 19 or more home runs in a Western League season. The WL is a notorious pitcher’s league with huge parks and low averages. Of those eight, four have become certified power hitters in NPB, Takahiro Okada, Nobuhiko Matsunaka, Kenji Jojima and Xavier Batista. Batista probably had the most impressive run of any of those guys, hitting 21 in 177 at-bats two years ago.
Mejia hit 20 last year in 300 plate appearances and joined the Carp first team at the end of interleague having hit 19 in 201 at-bats this spring in the minors.
In Friday’s game, Mejia, playing third with Batista at first, went 3-for-4 with a home run. So that’s a start after going hitless in three at-bats in Wednesday’s interleague finale against Rakuten.