This past week of baseball included a lot of scorching-hot hitting, and not always from the teams you would expect it from! In fact, every day at least one team put up nine or more runs! Let’s look at some of those games in detail, plus some other exciting action that affected the standings.
Tuesday: The Hiroshima Carp were down to their final out and needed four runs against one of the most dominant closers in the Central, Raidel Martinez of the Chunichi Dragons. With runners on first and second, they got a couple of RBI singles, and then young catcher Shogo Sakakura smacked a walk-off three-run home run into the right-field stands at Mazda Zoom-Zoom Stadium. That hit gave him enough to qualify for the batting title, and at day’s end, he was on top with a .332 average. The Carp won 8-7.
Wednesday: The struggling SoftBank Hawks brought ace pitcher Kodai Senga to the mound against Saitama Seibu Lions import Zach Neal. It was the former who put on a clinic, throwing seven shutout innings and striking out six, while his mates jumped all over Neal, tagging him for nine runs in under three innings of work. The Hawks only got two hits the rest of the way but did not need any more offense as they pummeled the Lions, 9-0. Both teams are currently in the bottom half of the standings.
Thursday: The Yakult Swallows followed up their 12-run effort on Tuesday against the Hanshin Tigers with 13 more on this night. None of them came via the long ball but they did amass 15 hits, including four that never left the infield, and capitalized on two Tigers errors and eight free passes as well. They won handily, 13-3, and currently find themselves in second place, three games behind the Tigers.
Friday: An outstanding pitching duel at Zozo Marine Stadium featured rookie phenom Roki Sasaki (Chiba Lotte Marines) against Masahiro Tanaka (Rakuten Eagles). Both hurlers went eight innings and gave up two runs, including a home run apiece. It was the relievers that decided this one, though, as Naoya Masuda of the Marines took care of the Eagles in order, but Tomohito Sakai of the Eagles served Brandon Laird his second home run of the night to walk it off. The Marines have catapulted themselves into first place in the Pacific as they are currently on a 14-3-4 run since August 18.
Saturday: The worst-hitting team in NPB, the Nippon-Ham Fighters (.233 team average), did the unthinkable: they scored eleven runs in the first inning (aided by a couple of errors, too, mind you) against the winningest pitcher of the 2020 season, SoftBank Hawks’ righty Shuta Ishikawa. They added five more in the second and finished the game with 17 runs against just five for the Hawks.
Sunday: What started as a nightmare week for the Dragons finished in triumph. They found themselves down 4-0 early and 5-3 late in this matchup against the Swallows, but scored two in the bottom of the seventh (Kosuke Fukudome became the oldest Dragon in history to hit a home run at 44 years 139 days), and four in the bottom of the eighth. They beat the Swallows 9-5 to conclude a successful weekend in style. They also toppled the third-place Yomiuri Giants 10-1 on Friday and 5-4 on Saturday.
Good week: Marines (4-1-1), Baystars (3-1-1), Dragons (4-2)
Bad week: Giants (1-4-1), Hawks (1-3-1), Eagles (2-4), Carp (2-4)