Eagles barely hold off Marines
At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, it took a lucky break and a good catch to do it, but the Rakuten Eagles survived a battle with the still winless Lotte Marines, beating them 2-1 on Wednesday afternoon.
Trailing by a 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh after Tsuyoshi Sugano’s RBI double off Eagles starter Takahiro Norimoto, the Marines had runners on second and third with one out. With the infield way in, Katsuya Kakunaka ripped a fat 2-2 pitch from rookie lefty Yuki Watanabe to second baseman Hideto Asamura, who lost his footing making the catch.
The Marines again put two men in scoring position with one out in the eighth after a Leonys Martin’s double off former San Diego Padre Kazuhisa Makita. This time the Eagles were saved by left fielder Atsuki Muto. Having just entered as a defensive replacement, the 19-year-old rookie made a good running catch on a shallow sinking liner to prevent the tying run from scoring.
In the ninth inning, it was closer Yuki Matsui’s turn to sweat. With one out and the tying runner on second, right fielder Kazuki Tanaka made a good catch against the right-field fence, allowing the lefty to get out of the inning and earn his first save.
Norimoto (1-0) allowed a run on three walks and four hits. He helped himself by starting a double play, allowing him to stay even with Marines right-hander Daiki Iwashita (0-1), who allowed just three runners through five innings. The Eagles took the lead in the sixth when Iwashita walked the bases loaded and Eigoro Mogi singled in both runs.
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, the Orix Buffaloes lit up Kotaro Otake (0-1) for seven runs over three innings and got five scoreless innings from 36-year-old former closer Hirotoshi Masui (1-0) to beat the previously undefeated SoftBank Hawks 7-2.
At Sapporo Dome, Taiwan’s Wu Nien-ting hit his first pro home run off Hiromi Ito as the Nippon Ham Fighters’ top draft pick last year made his pro debut against the Seibu Lions in a 1-1 tie.
At Yokohama Stadium, the virus-stricken Yakult Swallows beat the DeNA BayStars 5-3 in the Central League as young hitters from both teams took center stage. Yasutaka Shiomi singled twice and drove in three for the Swallows, who also got a two-run homer from slugger Munetaka Murakami.
Right-hander Taisei Irie (0-1), the BayStars’ top pick in last year’s draft, allowed all five runs over five innings in his debut, while the club’s second pick, infielder Shugo Maki, blasted a three-run homer that drove starter Hirotoshi Takanashi from the game.
Scott McGough and three other relievers worked one inning apiece of perfect relief as the Swallows kept the BayStars winless under new manager Daisuke Miura.
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, new import Kevin Cron broke a fifth-inning tie with his first homer in Japan and his second hit of the game as the Hiroshima Carp beat the Hanshin Tigers 4-2.
Jerry Sands singled in a run for the Tigers and Jefry Marte had two hits.
Carp starter Hiroki Tokoda (1-0) allowed two runs over six innings and doubled in a run, while rookie closer Ryoji Kuribayashi worked a 1-2-3 ninth to record his third save.
At Nagoya’s Vantelin Dome, the Chunichi Dragons scored four runs off Shoichi Ino (0-1), making his first start for the Yomiuri Giants, and five relievers held the visitors scoreless over the final 5-2/3 innings in a 5-3 win. The loss was the Giants’ first of the season after two wins and two ties.
The Giants’ Zelous Wheeler, batting second again, opened the scoring in the first with a two-run homer. Dayan Viciedo had two hits for the Dragons, while the team’s 2018 top draft pick, the extremely well-hyped Akira Neo, doubled in the go-ahead run in the second.
Yakult has coronavirus issues
A day after their first win of the season, the Yakult Swallows deactivated six players, including Norichika Aoki and Tetsuto Yamada on Wednesday due to concerns over potential coronavirus infections after No. 2 catcher Akihisa Nishida and a fifth member of the Central League club’s staff tested positive.
Sponichi Annex reported that after a fourth member of the team’s staff tested positive on Tuesday, the team was screened again, and the tests for a 20-year-old staff member and Nishida came back positive. In addition to Nishida, Yamada, Aoki, two-time batting champion Seiichi Uchida, shortstop Naomichi Nishiura and pitcher Albert Suarez were all sent home as a precaution.
Meanwhile, the Pacific League’s Seibu Lions have deactivated cleanup hitter and first baseman Hotaka Yamakawa. The 2018 MVP miss-stepped on the first-base bag on Tuesday as he circled the bases on a home run against the Nippon Ham Fighters at Sapporo Dome.
Marines vs Eagles: Zozo Marine Stadium 2 pm, 1 am EDT
Buffaloes vs Hawks: Kyocera Dome (Osaka) 6 pm, 5 am EDT
BayStars vs Swallows: Yokohama Stadium 5:45 pm, 4:45 am EDT
Dragons vs Giants: Vantelin Dome (Nagoya) 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Carp vs Tigers: Mazda Stadium 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Active roster moves 3/31/2021
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 4/10, except for those marked with an asterisk as coronavirus protocol deactivations. These players can be reactivated as soon as they are declared virus free.
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