The bad news is that in the blink of an eye, the 2021 NPB season is already more than 10% done. The good news is that there are still nearly 130 games to be played! And given the excitement we saw this past week, particularly from the pitchers, it is going to be a great season!
Tuesday: Hiroshima Carp sophomore pitcher Masato Morishita threw a complete-game shutout, blanking the Yakult Swallows 2-0.
Eagles’ veteran righty Takayuki Kishi became the first player ever to have a 10-decision win streak for two different teams. His first one was with the Seibu Lions.
SoftBank Hawks’ ace Kodai Senga made his 2021 debut a little later than the team had hoped, and it looks like his second start of the season will not be for several months. The righty twisted his ankle while quickly reaction to a come-backer in the fifth inning of the Hawks’ match with the Nippon-Ham Fighters. He got the win, though, going 5.2 innings and allowing just 3 hits.
Wednesday: Hanshin Tigers rookie Masashi Itoh got his first career win, throwing 7 innings of 1-run ball against the suddenly struggling Yomiuri Giants.
Thursday: Yakult Swallows rookie Yasunobu Okugawa also got his first career win, though it was not as convincing as Itoh’s. The 19-year old gave up 5 runs in 5 innings but got a boatload of run support as his club downed the Carp.
Also impressive on this night were the Ryota Takinaka-led Eagles, who two-hit the Lions, and the Yuki Takahashi-led Giants, who three-hit the Tigers.
Friday: Shintaro Fujinami of the Tigers picked up his first win in nearly a year, giving up 2 runs in 7 innings against the Baystars. It was his teammate, rookie Teruaki Sato, who stole the show, though. He hit a ball clear out of Yokohama Stadium in right-center, leaving everyone at the stadium with their jaws on the ground.
Carp ace Daichi Ohsera outdueled Giants’ ace Tomoyuki Sugano. Only two runs scored, both of them solo homers in the first inning (Ryosuke Kikuchi and Seiya Suzuki) but that was enough as Ohsera went six strong, scattering six hits and letting no one score, while striking out six.
Saturday: The Eagles started out very poorly against the Hawks and found themselves behind 0-7 early on. They flipped the score, even earning a lead, but surrendered the tying run in the latter innings. The game ended tied 8-8.
The Tigers became the first NPB team to record 10 wins on the season, as Koyo Aoyagi and the bullpen three-hit the Baystars and won 4-0. They would complete the sweep on Sunday.
Sunday: The Giants avoided setting a new franchise low of 15 straight games without double-digit hits. They pistol-whipped the Carp 9-0, racking up 12 hits in the process. They also received great pitching from Nobutaka Imamura.
Finally, the Hawks and Eagles barely avoided a weekend of all ties, as the Hawks bettered the Pacific League leaders by the slim score of 2-0. They scored one run off rookie Takahisa Hayakawa in the 4th and another in the final inning of the game. Five pitchers combined to complete the shutout.
Good week: Tigers (5-1), Hawks (4-0-2), Eagles (3-1-2)
Bad week: Giants (2-4), Baystars (2-4), Lions (2-4), Buffaloes (1-3-2)