A month of baseball has already been played, but it feels like the boys of summer are just warming up! There were plenty of dramatics this past week, and surely more to come this week, too! Here’s a look at some of the more noteworthy games.
Tuesday: The Hanshin Tigers hit five home runs (two apiece from Jefry Marte and Yusuke Ohyama, one from Jerry Sands) at Tokyo Dome, as they crushed the Yomiuri Giants 10-5. Last season, it took them nine games to finally put up a W in the Big Egg, but the team looks different this year. (That being said, they dropped both of the other games in this series.)
Catcher Takuya Kai of the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks collected five RBI (including a three-run home run) as his team pulled off a huge win against the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, 6-4. They kept their hold on first place after this game and never relinquished it all week.
Wednesday: Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters rookie starter Hiromi Itoh looked great through six innings, fanning eight Chiba Lotte Marines while scattering two hits. His mates spotted him a five-run lead, too. The wheels fell off in the seventh and beyond, as the Marines put up runs in each of the final three frames, winning in a walk-off, 6-5, thanks to a huge home run by Hiromi Oka.
Thursday: Perhaps the most impressive come-from-behind of the week goes to the Orix Buffaloes. The Saitama Seibu Lions broke a 3-3 deadlock open in the top of the eighth, and took a three-run lead all the way into to the bottom of the ninth. With one out left and the bases juiced, T-Okada cleared the bases on a triple high off the right-field wall. His pinch-runner replacement would score the walk-off run on a single by Yutaro Sugimoto, completing the improbable: a third straight win against the Lions.
Friday: Giants’ ace Tomoyuki Sugano threw his second straight complete game, which was tainted only by a Seiya Suzuki home run in the sixth inning. This was the only game of the three that the Giants won over the weekend against the Hiroshima Carp, though.
Meanwhile, at Koshien Stadium, the Yokohama DeNA Baystars snapped their 12-game winless streak (0-10-2), pounding the Tigers 7-1. They took advantage of poor control from Tigers starter Shintaro Fujinami (6 walks and a hit batsman in 4+ innings), plus two errors in a decisive fifth inning that saw the Baystars clear the bases on Kazuki Kamizato’s single being misplayed by rookie Teruaki Sato. Sato would get his revenge the rest of the weekend, though, pounding out four hits and collecting six RBIs as the Tigers righted their ship.
Saturday: Eagles’ returnee Masahiro Tanaka earned his 100th NPB win against the Lions, throwing six innings and allowing just a run. His teammates put together a two-run first inning, allowing him to play with a lead the entire game. The bullpen preserved the slim lead as the Eagles triumphed 2-1.
The Tokyo Yakult Swallows were down to their final out against the Chunichi Dragons, and newly promoted import Jose Osuna drove the first pitch he saw into the gap in right-center. The 4-3 win extended the Swallows’ undefeated streak to five games, and they pushed it one further on Sunday, thanks in part to back-to-back jacks from Osuna and Domingo Santana.
Sunday: The Carp looked to be in control of the rubber match against the Giants, bringing an 8-2 lead into the bottom of the eighth. That lead evaporated as the Giants exploded for six. However, the red helmets pieced together a run against Giants interim closer Kota Nakagawa, and they held on to win 9-8.
The Tigers and Baystars played a real barnburner to end the weekend with a bang. The lead changed hands four times, and import outfielder Jerry Sands delivered the crushing blow with a go-ahead two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh. He currently leads the Central League with 20 RBIs. The Tigers won 7-5.
Good week: Swallows (4-0-1), Buffaloes (4-1-1)
Bad week: Lions (0-5-1), Baystars (1-4-1)