As long as there is baseball, there will be exciting games to talk about. Here’s a look at some of the best from this past week:
Tuesday: The Tigers started their series against the Swallows with a Jerry Sands walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth. It was his second straight game with a home run, and he would continue to swing a hot stick all week. The Giants also walked off their game against the BayStars as second baseman Naoki Yoshikawa singled to right with the bases loaded. In the other CL game, Dragons ace Yudai Ohno continued to finish what he started, throwing his fifth straight complete game, this one ending in a shutout. Finally, Buffaloes ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto won for first time in 7 starts, out-slinging Hawks ace Kodai Senga. The Buffaloes scored five runs in their final three innings and the Hawks came up empty-handed.
Wednesday: Down three runs and heading into the ninth, the Eagles put up 5 runs and held off a walk-off attempt by the Fighters. With the bases loaded and one out, speedy center fielder Haruki Nishikawa uncharacteristically hit into a double play to squelch the rally. He was not the only super-speedy center fielder to do this, though, as Koji Chikamoto put an end to the Tigers’ comeback attempt in the same way.
Thursday: The Giants scored 10 in the second inning, many of them against opener Spencer Patton, as they cruised to a 13-4 win and a sweep against the BayStars. The play of the week, perhaps of the year, goes to the mysterious pick-off to first base by Swallows reliever Scott McGough against the Tigers, who had runners on second and third – not first. The fielder was not prepared for the throw, and the balk + error resulted in both runners scoring and the Tigers winning by a 4-3 score.
Friday: The Tigers took a five-run lead against the Giants at Koshien Stadium, and managed to hold on in a nail-biter, 5-4. Ace Yuki Nishi picked up his first win against the Giants in 11 tries, and now only has to beat his former team (the Buffaloes) to have wins against every NPB team. Meanwhile, in Hiroshima, there was no exchange of leads in the slugfest in Hiroshima, but the teams combined for 33 hits and 24 runs as the Carp tied the game in the 4th and 9th innings. It ended in a 12-12 draw.
Saturday: While 33 hits produced 24 runs in Hiroshima, 25 hits combined for just 2 earned runs at hitter-friendly Meiji Jingu, as the Dragons beat the Swallows 3-1 on a catching error in the top of the 10th. Speaking of errors, the Marines completed a comeback against the Hawks in the 7th after Hawks third baseman Nobuhiro Matsuda committed a mistake to start the rally for the visitors. The Marines would go on to sweep the series and are now 25-11-1 against the Hawks since last year.
Sunday: Buffaloes outfielder Masataka Yoshida hit two home runs to help Orix snap their three-game losing streak. He has reached double-digit HRs in each of his first five seasons with the team. Yoshida is also currently riding a 24-game hitting streak and leads the PL in batting average (.379).
Good week: Lions (4-2), Dragons (4-2), Giants (4-1)
Bad week: Swallows (2-4), Carp (1-4-1)