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Rakuten Eagles 3 - Hanshin Tigers 2
After losing 3 straight, this was an important win for the Eagles. It was also an important start for Darrell Rasner, who had given up 12 runs over his last 3 starts (14.2 innings). On this night, he did fared much better: 7 IP, 8 H, 3 K, 3 BB, 2 R, 2 ER. Yasutomo Kubo (4 IP, 6 H, 4 K, BB, 2 HBP, 3 R, 3 ER) started for the Tigers and had a rough night, losing his third game of the season.
The Eagles got on the board in the first when Masato Nakamura (2-for-4, R, RBI) led off the game with a single. A grounder moved him over to second and a 1-out HBP put runners on first and second with 1 out. Takeshi Yamasaki (0-for-3, BB) fouled out to first for the second out of the inning and for a moment it appeared as though the Eagles would let another scoring opportunity slip by. But Teppei (1-for-3, BB, R, RBI) changed all of that when he doubled to right to plate Nakamura from second.
The score would remain 1-0 for the next 2 innings, but the Tigers did have chances in both the second (runners on first and second with 1 out) and third innings (bases loaded with 2 out). But Kentaro Sekimoto (2-for-3, BB, 2B, 2 RBI) managed to take advantage of runners on second and third with 2 outs when he lined a 2-run double into left to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead in the top of the 4th. But the lead wouldn't last very long as the Eagles answered back with 2 runs of their own in the bottom half of the innning that ended a little earlier than it probably should have when Makoto Kosaka (0-for-4) hit into an inning ending double play.
Koji Aoyama entered the game in the ninth and retired the side in order for his 3 save of the season.
Rasner's last victory came against the Softbank Hawks on April 26th. The 135 pitches he threw is a season high. ... The Tigers left 9 runners on base.
Time: 3h 9m
Chiba Lotte Marines 0 - Yomiru Giants 0
Shunsuke Watanabe may have tossed his best game of the season, while getting some help from his defense: 8 IP, 2 H, 4 K, 5 BB, 0 R. The same could be said of Hisanori Takahashi's outing: 9 IP, 5 H, 6 K, 2 BB, 0 R. It's too bad that neither performance could be rewarded with a win. The bullpen's on either side of the diamond also did a superb keeping each side from scoring any runs -- Lotte pen: 4 IP, 2 H, 6 K, BB, 0 R; Yomiuri pen: 3 IP, 1 H, 3 K, 3 BB, 0 R.
The Giants had a number of scoring opportunities throughout the night, but Watanabe did a great job keeping the Giants off-balance. In the top of the 4th, the Giants had runners on first and second with 1 out, but the best they could do was move the runners up to second and third. The Giants had two great chances in the 8th: with runners on first and third, Hayato Sakamoto (0-for-4) struck out; a walk later, Michihiro Ogasawara (0-for-5) grounded out to short to end the inning with the bases loaded. The Giants had another great chance score in the 9th when the Giants had runners runners on first and second and only 1 out. Unfortunately Shinnosuke Abe (1-for-4) fouled out to first and Takahito Kudo (0-for-4) struck out to end the inning.
The Marines also had few chances to score some runs, but just as with the Giants, simply could not get the big hit when it counted most. The Marines had runners on first and second with 2 outs in the 1st and runners on first and third with 2 outs in the 5th. But their best chance perhaps came in the bottom of the 9th when the Marines had runners on first and second with no outs. Tadahito Iguchi was up to bat and tapped a ball he must have thought went foul; instead the home plate ump called it fair and the Giants pulled off a 2-5-3 double play. Satozaki then grounded out to second for the final out of the inning.
Tsuyoshi Nishioka wasn't in the starting line-up for the second straight game. He was hit by a pitch on the 27th in a game against Hiroshima and hasn't managed to play out a full game since. ... Both teams left 9 runners on base.
Chiba Lotte Marine
Time: 3h 46m
Softbank Hawks 7 - Yokohama Bay Stars 3
The game was a bit closer than the final score reveals -- if not for one bad pitch in the 4th and an error to start 7th, the Bay Stars may have been able to eek out a win.
The Hawks had a big fourth inning in which they managed to plate 4 runs, two of which came on a 2-run blast by Hitoshi Tamura (3-for-3, HBP 2B, HR, R, 2 RBI). The other two scored just before Tamura's shot on an RBI single by Nobuhiko Matsunaka (2-for-4, 2B, 3 RBI) and a ground out to second by Hiroki Kokubo (0-for-3, HBP, R, RBI). The Hawks would score another run in the 5th and then plate 2 more in the 7th: Arihito Muramatsu (1-for-4, 2 R) reached on an error by Shuichi Murata and was then sacrificed to second. Munenori Kawasaki (2-for-3, BB, 2B, 2 R, RBI) worked out a walk and Jose Ortiz (0-for-3, BB, R) grounded out to second, moving the runners up a base. A 2-run double by Matsunaka pushed Muramatsu and Kawasaki across home plate to give the Hawks their 7th run of the game.
Takahiro Saeko (2-for-3, BB, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI) was responsible for driving in all three of the Bay Stars' runs on a solo shot in the 2nd and 2-run shot in the 7th. The Bay Stars did managed to put runners in scoring position in the 8th (Kazuya Fujita led off the inning with a double) and 9th (Yuki Yoshimura doubled with 2 outs) but could not follow through with a timely hit.
Tom Mastny started for the Bay Stars and gave up 5 runs (all earned) on 6 hits, a strike out, and 2 walks; he is now 0-2 with a 4.14 ERA over 7 starts. D.J. Houlton (6 IP, 6 H, 3 K, 2 BB, 3 R, 3 ER) picked up his second straight victory and improved to 4-3 on the season.
Saeki's solo shot in the 2nd was also his 1,500th career hit.
Time: 3h 1m