There was a lot of great action in the first week of interleague. At present, there really are not any teams that have a clear lead in the standings, but let’s look a little at each matchup so far.
Tuesday – Thursday
The Chunichi Dragons took two of three from the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, losing the first 13-5, but bouncing back with a 7-1 win and then a dramatic back-and-forth 6-5 win on Thursday.
The Yomiuri Giants also took two of three, losing the opener to the Chiba Lotte Marines before pounding four home runs in a 7-4 win on Wednesday and another on Thursday in a 3-2 victory. Kazuma Okamoto hit three home runs in the series.
The Yokohama DeNA Baystars also won their first road series. The first two games in Sendai against the Rakuten Eagles were close, but the rubber match was a convincing 11-3 win, featuring 17 hits (but just one home run).
After losing their opener to the Hanshin Tigers (who stretched their winning streak to nine), the Saitama Seibu Lions calmed down and took the series, winning 4-0 on Wednesday and 4-2 on Thursday.
The Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters took out the Tokyo Yakult Swallows in the first two games, 2-1 and 5-2, but dropped the third game 6-0. Chusei Mannami had two home runs on Tuesday, and Gosuke Katoh had two on Wednesday.
Finally, the Orix Buffaloes used their superior pitching to get past the Hiroshima Carp in two of three at Kyocera Dome. Yoshinobu Yamamoto threw eight shutout innings on Tuesday, Daiki Tajima threw six shutout innings on Wednesday (but the Buffs lost the game late), and Shunpeita Yamashita threw six innings without allowing an earned run.
Friday – Sunday
Because of persistent rain on Friday, only half of the games got played.
The Fighters and Giants completed their series, with the visiting Fighters convincingly winning two of three (8-2 Friday, 10-3 Sunday) while losing on Saturday in a walk-off. Katoh hit two more home runs this series.
The Buffaloes pitchers continued to shine, helping the team win 2 of 3 against the Dragons. Sunday’s game was noteworthy, as Hiroya Miyagi threw a complete-game shutout (two-hitter, 10 strikeouts), while his opponent, fellow Samurai Japan hurler Hiroto Takahashi struck out 13 batters in a no-decision.
This was not even the best pitching matchup of the day, though. At Koshien Stadium, Roki Sasaki allowed just one hit in six innings (fanning 10) but it cost his Marines the game, as Hiroto Saiki threw a complete-game, three-hit (12 strikeout) shutout.
The Hawks took their series against the Carp, in part because former Carp closer Ryoji Kuribayashi got roughed up on Sunday, coughing up three runs in the sixth.
The Swallows might have finally found the mojo they lost in May, winning two straight against the Eagles at their home park.
The Baystars also won both of their games on the weekend, coming back from a 4-0 deficit on Sunday to beat the Lions 5-4. They lost their make-up game tonight, though.
Week two takes place in Pacific League parks, so all the teams get designated hitters! See you again next Monday!
Good Week: Baystars (4-1), Buffaloes (4-2), Fighters (4-2)
Rough Week: Carp (2-4), Eagles (1-4), Marines (1-4)