There may not have been many changes in the standings, but things have gotten tighter over the past six days. Let’s jump right into the action and see who shone brightly last week.
Tuesday: Saitama Seibu Lions youngsters shone brightly, led by 24-year-old starter Wataru Matsumoto (8 innings, 3 hits, 0 runs, 9 strikeouts), 21-year-old reliever Kaima Taira (35th consecutive scoreless mound), and 24-year-old slugger Aito (two-run home run in the fourth inning). The 2-0 win sent the Rakuten Eagles to their seventh straight loss.
Wednesday: The Orix Buffaloes won 3-1 to stretch their winning streak to 11 games and give them their most successful stretch since 1984. Young lefty Daiki Tajima went 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball and received support in the form of three solo home runs. The Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters were on the losing end.
Thursday: Samurai Japan and SoftBank Hawks outfielder Yuki Yanagita needed just one pitch to go yard and welcome 19-year-old Roki “The Reiwa Beast” Sasaki to the bigs. Yanagita would add another later in the game and his team trounced the Chiba Lotte Marines 7-2.
Friday: Eagles’ starter Takahiro Norimoto threw a complete game against Hawks, helping his team to a 5-1 victory. They would ultimately sweep the weekend series.
Saturday: The Yomiuri Giants quickly reversed an early 0-2 deficit, putting up 10 runs and spanking the Yakult Swallows 10-3. They swept the weekend series, outscoring the Swallows 22-6.
Sunday: The Yokohama DeNA Baystars also swept their weekend series, capping it off with a four-home run performance in the finale. Tyler Austin, Masayuki Kuwahara and Neftali Soto each hit a pair of homers at Koshien, helping the Baystars sweep a series against the Tigers for just the first time in six years.
Good week: Giants (5-0), Eagles (4-2)
Bad week: Fighters (1-4), Carp (1-4-1), Tigers (2-4)