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Nippon Ham Fighters 8 - Hanshin Tigers 2
The last pitcher the Tigers probably wanted to face was Yu Darvish, especially at a time when wins have been hard to come by. But more than Darvish, the Tigers defense really put a damper on the team's efforts (4 errors in all).
An error in the bottom of the first with two outs and a runner on second gave the Fighters a second chance that would set the tone of the game: consecutive 2-out RBI singles by Eiichi Koyano (2-for-4, HBP, 2 RBI) and Tomochika Tsuboi (1-for-4, RBI) gave the Fighters a 2-0 lead right out of the gate. Another error in the second put runners on first and third with 1 out and once again the Fighters took advantage: a sac fly by Atsunori Inaba (1-for-4, 2 RBI) scored a run and a 2-out, bases loaded HBP to Koyano pushed home another run.
The Fighters 5th run came on a lead-off solo homer by Yoshio Itoi (1-for-1, 3 BB, HR, 3 R, RBI) in the 4th. The Fighters scored their 6th run in the 5th when Shinobu Fukuhara balked a runner over to second and then gave up an RBI single to Makoto Kaneko (3-for-4, 2 2B, R, RBI). The final 2 runs scored in the bottom of the 8th and once again, an error was the root cause: an error on a bunted ball allowed a runner on first to score; and a bad throw one play later resulted in the second run crossing the plate.
The Tigers didn't really have too many scoring opportunities but did manage to fail in the 6th when they had runners on first and third and only 1 out. Asides from that 1 inning, they did manage to push across a run in the 5th (first and third, no out) and 8th innings (runner on second, 1 out).
Yu Darvish had another solid game and picked up his 7th win of the season: 7 IP, 4 H, 10 K, 2 BB, R, ER. Fukuhara had a bit of a rough start giving up 6 runs (2 earned) on 7 hits, 1 strike out, 4 walks, and an HBP over 4.1 innings of work.
The Tigers are now 3-6-1 over their last 10. For the entire month of May, they are 7-14-1. ... Fukuhara almost threw out Itoi stealing second in the first. Had he been able to erase that runner, things may have ended differently. ... Inaba made a nice play in the 6th when he doubled up Takahiro Arai at first after catching a fly ball off the bat off Shinjiro Hiyama (1-for-4, R). ... Itoi hit his second home run in as many games. ... Sho Nakata entered the game as a pinch hitter for the DH, Luis Jimenez, in the seventh and struck out.
Time: 3h 26m
Yomiuri Giants 2 - Seibu Lions 2
In a game the Giants probably should have won, the only saving grace was that they didn't lose.
And outside of two bad pitches that ended up in the seats, Tetsuya Utsumi had a pretty decent game: 7 IP, 5 H, 7 K, BB, 2 R, 2 ER. Kazuyuki Hoashi started for the Lions and wasn't quite as sharp as Utsumi, but managed to hold the Giants to 2 runs: 8 IP, 8 H, 7 K, 3 BB, 2 R, 2 ER. Both bullpens did a great job in keeping the game tied.
Giants 5 IP, 2 H, 6 K, BB, HBP, 0 R
Lions 4 IP, H, 4 H, BB, 0 R
Utsumi did a nice job keeping the Lions from creating too many scoring situations. The Lions did manage to get runners on first and third with 1 out in the bottom of the 5th after Hiroshi Hirao (2-for-5, HR, R, RBI) led off the inning to start the inning. But Utsumi got Hiram Bocachica (0-for-2) to fly out to second and Yasuyuki Kataoka (2-for-5) to fly out to third to end the threat.
The Lions also had a chance in the 10th to take the game after Kenta Matsusaka was hit by a pitch with 1 out. Ginjiro Sumitani bunted him over to second and Tomoaki Sato was given a free pass. Kataoka then singled to right, but Matsusaka was thrown out running the bases to end the inning (there was apparently some sort of a sign mix-up with the third base coach).
The Giants also had a number of chances to score extra runs in the game, like in the first when they had runners first and second with 1 out, or in the 5th when they managed to push a run across, but couldn't deliver the big blow to keep the inning going with runners on first and third with 1 out. The Giants also had runners on first and second with 2 outs in the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings, but failed to come up with the big hit.
Hayato Sakamoto (2-for-5, IBB, RBI) and Yoshiyuki Kamei (2-for-4) had 2 hits a peice for the Giants. Hiroyuki Nakajima (1-for-5, HR, R, RBI) hit the other home run for the Lions.
The Lions are now 10-13-1 in the month of May.
Time: 3h 58m
Orix Buffaloes 6 - Yokohama Bay Stars 4
The Bay Stars almost staged an impressive comeback when they put up 4 quick runs in the top of the 9th on a grand slam by Yuki Yoshimura (2-for-4, 2B, HR, R, 4 RBI). But Daisuke Kato was inserted after that and he quickly shut the door on the Bay Stars, retiring the final two batters on a ground out and a strike out; he picked up his 8th save of the season.
Chihiro Kaneko (7 IP, 2 H, 8 K, BB, 0 R) had a solid start and picked up his 5th win. Ryan Glynn had another rough start and picked up his 6th loss: 4 IP, 9 H, K, 5 R, 5 ER.
Jose Fernandez had a big night for the Buffaloes, going 2-for-4 with 2 homers (a 2-run shot in the third and a solo shot in the 8th), 2 runs, and 3 RBI. Greg LaRocca also hit a home run (solo shot in the 2nd) for the Buffaloes, as well as a double in four trips to the plate. Takeshi Hidaka (2-for-4, R), Hirotoshi Kitagawa (2-for-2), and Keiji Ohbiki (2-for-3, RBI) picked up 2 hits a piece.
Toshihisa Nishi went 1-for-3 with a run scored. ... It was the first time Fernandez and LaRocca hit home runs in the same game.
Time: 2h 49m