With a week to go in interleague play, the Central League is actually ahead of the Pacific League… though the lead is slim… and the final six games will all be played in Pacific League parks. Still, no one could have guessed that the Dragons and Baystars would be sitting atop the interleague standings! Here is a look back at some of the interesting action of the past week.
Tuesday: Nearly every game was top-notch. The Saitama Seibu Lions scored three runs in the top of the ninth to tie up the Yomiuri Giants, and second-year reliever Kaima Taira sets the record for the most scoreless mounds to start a season with 27. He has since tacked on two more.
The Yakult Swallows scored five in the bottom of the seventh to defeat the Rakuten Eagles 7-4. The Yokohama DeNA Baystars dropped three on the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in the bottom of the eighth to win 4-3. The Orix Buffaloes scored three in the top of the eighth to beat the Hanshin Tigers 5-2. Chunichi Dragons’ ace Yuya Yanagi one-hit the Chiba Lotte Marines in a 1-0 victory.
Wednesday: The Hiroshima Carp blanked the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters 3-0, and rookie Ryoji Kuribayashi kept his perfect 0.00 ERA on the year. He has appeared in 20 games without giving up a single run.
Thursday: The Dragons hit three home runs for the first time this season: each of Naomichi Donoue, Masataka Iryo, and Yohei Ohshima hit their first long-balls of the year. The last one was the difference maker as the Marines dropped a close one, 4-3.
Friday: In a battle of the aces, Buffaloes’ righty Yoshinobu Yamamoto (7 IP 1 R 9 K) outdid defending Sawamura Award winner Yudai Ohno (6 IP 2 R 4 K). The Buffaloes defeated the Dragons 2-1.
Saturday: Again, a team with its back against the wall came through in a big way. The Lions hit three home runs in the top of the ninth to stage a comeback against the Swallows and their closer Scott McGough, winning 6-4.
Sunday: Giants’ ace Tomoyuki Sugano made his return to the mound, pitching reasonably well (5 IP 2 R 6 K). Unfortunately, it was not enough as Fighters’ prized rookie Hiromi Itoh threw seven innings of one-run ball, fanning seven Giants. The Giants lost the game 4-2, and the series 2-1.
Good week: Eagles (5-1), Baystars (4-1-1), Buffaloes (4-2)
Bad week: Tigers (2-4), Carp (1-4), Marines (1-4-1)