The pitchers stole the spotlight pretty much all week, with records and dominant performances occurring almost daily. Here are a few of the week’s highlights.
Tuesday: Giants’ ace Tomoyuki Sugano remains unblemished on the year, winning his 12th straight decision, and setting a new team record for Opening Day pitchers in the process. After six innings of one-run ball against the Carp, his ERA is now a minuscule 1.76 on the year.
Wednesday: The only man who stands a chance to wrestle the Sawamura Award away from Sugano is Yudai Ohno of the Dragons. The lefty threw his third complete-game shutout of September, all of them while allowing two or fewer hits. This is the first any pitcher has accomplished this in the two-league era (which started in 1950).
Thursday: Yakult Swallows pitcher Hiroaki Saiuchi, having been cut by the Hanshin Tigers after the 2019 season, threw seven scoreless innings against the BayStars to earn his first NPB win in 5 seasons. Meanwhile, the Seibu Lions snapped their 22-inning scoreless streak, hiting 4 HRs and coming from behind to beat the Orix Buffaloes, 7-6. Rookie Tetsu Miyagawa earned his first career win in the process.
Friday: The Lions went back to struggling to score, but fortunately also held the Marines off the board through 9 innings. Veteran import slugger Ernesto Mejia hit his 10th home run on the year in the top of the 10th to give the Leos a 1-0 win. Meanwhile, two Central League pitchers hit the 160km/h mark in the past two days: Raidel Martinez of the Dragons hit 161 km/h on Friday, while Shintaro Fujinami of the Tigers hit 160 km/h five times in a seven-pitch span on Thursday.
Saturday: Benches seldom clear in Japan, but when Swallows’ hitter Norichika Aoki got hit by a pitch in the bottom of the 8th of a Carp blowout, social distancing rules got thrown out the window at Meiji Jingu Stadium. Tempers apparently flared when the Carp bench was heard yelling, “Let’s do it again!” The Carp won 13-2 and swept the series.
Sunday: One day after the BayStars dropped down into 4th place, Tyler Austin almost single-handedly made sure they would get back into the top half of the standings, hitting 3 bombs and driving in six runs in a 9-2 win over the Dragons.
Good week: Hawks (5-1), Carp (5-2)
Bad week: Fighters (1-5), BayStars (2-5)
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