Norimoto outduels Neal
Takahiro Norimoto allowed a run over six innings to outduel Zach Neal in the Rakuten Eagles’ 2-1 win over the Seibu Lions on Friday at Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.
Norimoto (5-3) struck out five, while walking two and allowing five hits. The 29-year-old right-hander’s stuff has continued to improve incrementally from start to start. His splitter, a problem pitch at the start of the start of the season, was dynamite in concert with a good fastball.
Both he and Neal (2-4) located well and generated routine outs, but with Neal lacking Norimoto’s good swing-and-miss pitches, it was a surprise to see the Lions score first.
Corey Spangenberg, who’d been unable to touch Norimoto’s fastball and splitter his first time up, stayed on a high 0-2 fastball and lined it for a one-out sixth-inning double. With two outs, Fumikazu Kimura brought Spangenberg home from third with a double into the left-field corner.
The Eagles took the lead, however, in the bottom of the inning against Neal. Hiroaki Shimauchi barreled a 1-2 two-seam fastball up in the zone for a leadoff single. Stefen Romero walked, and Takero Okajima miss-hit a hanging slider but got enough of it to ground it past first for an RBI single. Neal jammed the next hitter but
“I am hitting well right now,” Okajima said. “Nori is pitching well so it feels like we can win. Now it’s on to the weekend games.”
In contrast to his first several starts, when Norimoto was having trouble both locating the splitter and getting the release he needed to make it tumble, it was working to perfection against the Lions and was unhittable by anyone gearing up for his heat.
“I was able to put guys away with the forkball, so I used it a lot,” Norimoto said. “I believe in the work I’ve been putting in, I’m confident that I come in to games well prepared.
When he came out after six, the Lions went from the frying pan into the fire, as Sung Chia-hao treated them to an even better fastball, a diving slider and a good change in a 1-2-3 seventh. Former Lion and Padre Kazuhisa Makita worked around a single in the eighth before Alan Busenitz overpowered the Lions in the ninth to earn his seventh save.
Takeda returns as Hawks crush Kaneko
Shota Takeda (1-0) worked seven innings in his first game of the season for the SoftBank Hawks, who crushed former Sawamura Award winner Chihiro Kaneko (1-2) for five runs in the first inning in a 9-1 win at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome.
Sho Nakata singled in Taishi Ota in the first inning, but that was the Fighters’ high-water mark as Ryoya Kurihara highlighted the Hawks’ first with a three-run homer. He also walked twice and hit a solo homer, his 11th. Hawks superstart Yuki Yanagita, despite a stiff neck and legs belted his 19th homer in the second, yet another lunar launch to the remote reaches of the Casa de PePe’s right-field stands.
Takeda struck out six while walking one and allowing five hits.
Martin bombs Buffaloes
Leonys Martin drove in four runs on a pair of homers, both well back into the upper deck at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome in the Lotte Marines’ 5-3 win over the Orix Buffaloes.
Ayumu Ishikawa (5-2) gave up three runs over six innings, while Buffaloes starter Sachiya Yamasaki (2-3) served up both of Martin’s bombs and all five Marines runs over six innings.
Frank Herrmann struck out two in a 1-2-3 eighth for the Marines before Naoya Masuda picked up his 18th save in a perfect ninth.
Abe doubles down as Dragons beat Giants
Toshiki Abe had two big doubles, one in Chunichi’s three-run sixth and another that drove in two and broke a 3-3 tie in the seventh as the Dragons came from behind to beat the Yomiuri Giants 5-3 at Tokyo Dome.
Raidel Martinez, the sixth Dragons pitcher, worked a scoreless ninth to earn his ninth save.
Uemoto lifts Carp over Tigers
Takashi Uemoto drove in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Hiroshima Carp overcame a blown save to beat the Hanshin Tigers 4-3 at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium.
Uemoto, whose older brother Hiroki was manning second base for the Tigers, came up with two on and one out after singles by Ryuhei Matsuyama and Shogo Sakakura. As Japanese teams do, the Tigers pulled the outfield in to keep the runner on second from scoring on a single, and drove one over the left fielder for a “single.”
Sakakura’s two-run homer in the second gave Hiroshima rookie Masato Morishita a 3-0 lead against Yuki Nishi, the Tigers’ Opening Day starter. But Nishi shut the door after that and Yusuke Oyama powered Hanshin’s comeback, singling and scoring in the fifth and homering in the seventh. He then singled in the ninth off closer Geronimo Franzua (1-1) following Jerry Sands’ leadoff single to help set up the tying run.
Peoples wins 2nd straight
First-year import Michael Peoples (2-1) threw six scoreless innings to win his second-straight start and the DeNA BayStars held off the Yakult Swallows 6-2 at Yokohama Stadium.
The BayStars’ Neftali Soto had two hits, scored a run and drove in one, while Keita Sano’s three-run seventh-inning homer put the game away after the Swallows score in the seventh to make it a 2-1 game.
Swallows rookie Daiki Yoshida (1-4) allowed two runs over six innings to take the loss.
Active roster moves 8/28/2020
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 9/7
Starting pitchers for Aug. 29, 2020
Eagles vs Lions: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Buffaloes vs Marines: Kyocera Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Hawks vs Fighters: PayPay Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Giants vs Dragons: Tokyo Dome 2 pm, 1 am EDT
BayStars vs Swallows: Yokohama Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Carp vs Tigers: Mazda Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT