My sister and my nephew are in town for the next few weeks and Mike has graciously volunteered some of his time to help me cover 3 games out of the daily NPB schedule. For the next three days, Mike will be covering the CL games while I cover the PL games (after that, we'll be putting together a rotating schedule since inter-league play will begin). You will be able to read his coverage of the CL games at SimCentral's Baseball News and More section.
Rakuten Eagles 2 - Softbank Hawks 1
Katsuya Nomura must be beaming.
For the first time this season, Hisashi Iwakuma (9 IP, 115 NP, 7 H, 6 K, 2 BB, 1 R, 1 ER) tossed a complete game. And he also helped his team recover from a mini 2-game slide. Yoshiaki Fujioka (5 IP, 6 H, 2 K, BB, 0 R), used primarily as a reliever, started for the Hawks and tossed 5 shut-out innings before he was relieved by Yasuhi Kamiuchi, the pitcher that was ultimately saddled with the loss.
The Hawks got on the board in the first when Jose Ortiz (1-for-4, 2B, RBI) hit an RBI double to left. After that, the offense struggled to get anything going against Iwakuma, until the 8th and 9th innings. Chris Aguila led off the top of the 8th with a single and was then bunted over to second by Satoru Morimoto (0-for-2). Aguila stole third prior to a Koichi Honda (1-for-3 BB) walk that put runners on with only 1 out. But neither Munenori Kawasaki (1-for-3) no Ortiz could chase the runners home. In the top of the 9th, after Iwakuma recorded the first out on a grounder, the Hawks got two consecutive singles out of Yuya Hasegawa (1-for-4) and Hidenori Tanoue (1-for-3). But as quickly as the mini-rally started, it was quickly killed off when pinch-hitter Yusuke Kosai (0-for-1) lined into a game ending double play.
The Eagles didn't do their damage until the bottom of the 6th when the first two batters got on base by a walk and an error. A single by Masato Nakamura (2-for-4) loaded the bases with one out. Akihito Fujii (2-for-4) followed with an RBI single to tie the game at 1. A sac fly by pinch-hitter Fernando Seguignol (0-for-0, RBI) then pushed the go-ahead run across the plate. The Eagles did have another inning that could have turned into something bigger, if not for a GIDP proceeding two consecutive singles in the bottom of the 2nd.
Daisuke Kusano's hitting streak came to an end when he finished the game 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored (it officially ends at 21). ... It was Fujioka's first start since he turned pro in 2006.
Time: 3h 0m
Lotte Marines 6 - Seibu Lions 4
The Lions made the Marines look like fools on Friday night when they handed them an 18-0 spanking. But the Marines re-grouped and managed to pick up a win.
Naoyuki Shimizu (6 IP, 9 H, 6 K, 4 BB, 4 R, 4 ER) started the game for the Marines, but it was the second reliever, Yoshihiro Ito, that picked up the win. Tadahiro Ogino recorded his 5th save of the season. Kazuyuki Hoashi (7 IP, 7 H, 5 K, 3 BB, 3 R, 3 ER), coming off a great a very solid start that netted him his first victory of the season, started for the Lions but was not involved in the final decision. The pitcher that followed him, Koji Ohnuma (.1 IP, 2 BB, 2 R, 2 ER), picked up the loss.
The Mariners picked up the early lead, scoring 3 runs in the first two innings when Naotaka Takehara (0-for-2, BB, RBI) walked with the bases loaded in the first and Tomoya Satozaki (1-for-3, BB R, RBI) followed with a grounder to force a run home; the third run scored in the second on Saburo Ohnishi's (2-for-4, R, RBI) single with the bases loaded and only 1 out.
But the Lions scratched their way back, scoring 2 in the third on an RBI double by Takeya Nakamura (1-for-3, 2 BB, 2B, R, RBI) and an RBI single by Yoshihito Ishii (1-for-3, RBI); 1 in the fifth on a lead-off home run by Takumi Kuriyama (1-for-5, HR, R, RBI); and 1 in the sixth on another lead-off home run, this time by Ginjiro Sumitani (1-for-3, BB, HR, R, RBI).
The Lions could have had a much bigger inning in the 5th when Hiroyuki Nakajima (4-for-4, BB, 3 2B, R, RBI) followed Kuriyama's home run with a double and Nakamura walked. But the next three batters went down in order ruining the Lions' chance to break open the game.
With the Lions holding onto a 4-3 lead going into the bottom of the 8th, the Marines struck back by scoring 3 runs on a double, 4 walks (!), and a wild pitch. And when the inning finally ended on a fly out by Shunichi Nemoto (0-for-1), the Marines still had runners on second and third.
Chase Lambin went 1-for-3 with a walk, a double, a run scored, and 2 RBI. Benny Agbayani (2-for-4, BB, R) and Saburo (2-for-4, R, RBI) each finished with 2 RBIs a piece. Tadahito Iguchi went 1-for-2 with 2 walks and a runs scored.
Chiba Lotte Marines
Time: 3h 11m
Nippon Ham Fighters 7 - Orix Buffaloes 3
...and the nightmare continues for the Buffaloes: 9 straight losses. Just one more loss will guarantee the team a losing record this month.
Shugo Fujii (5.1 IP, 4 H, 3 K, 4 BB, 2 R, 2 ER) started the game for the Fighters and Hisashi Takeda picked up his 9th save of the season for recording the final out of the 9th inning. Satoshi Komatsu (6.1 IP, 6 H, 6 K, 4 BB, 4 R, 4 ER) continues to struggle and is now 0-5 in 6 starts this year.
The 12 hits the Fighters pounded out against the Buffaloes included a solo home run by Terrmel Sledge (1-for-3, 2 BB, HR, R, RBI) in the 1st; a solo home run by Yoshio Itoi (2-for-3, BB, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI) in the 4th; and an RBI double by Shota Ohno (1-for-4, 2B, R, RBI) in the 8th. Kensuke Tanaka went 3-for-4 with a walk and a run scored. Atsunori Inaba (2-for-4, 2 2B, 2 RBI), Itoi, and Makoto Kaneko (2-for-5, R, RBI) picked up 2 hits a piece.
The Buffaloes' offense was a picture of despair: they loaded the bases in the bottom of the first with only 1 out and managed to push across only 1 run, that on a walk to Ikki Shimamura (0-for-2, HBP, BB, RBI); they had runners on first and second with only 1 out in the 5th and failed to score any runs because Shinji Yamashita (2-for-5, R) lined into a double play; they had the bases loaded again in the bottom of the 8th, this time with 2 outs, and failed to score a single run; and left runners on first and third when Jose Fernandez (0-for-4, BB) grounded out to the pitcher in the 9th. Greg LaRocca went 2-for-4 with a walk, double, runs scored, and an RBI.
Takeda has taken to the roll of team closer and has yet to give up an earned run this season (15 G, 16.2 IP, 1 R, 0 ER). His 9 saves also puts him atop the saves leader board in the PL. ... The Fighters are now 10 games over .500.
Time: 3h 40m