There was a healthy combination of power hitting and pitching this past week, so why don’t we review the best of both worlds in this update? First up, the hitters.
Kazuma Okamoto of the Yomiuri Giants hit home runs in four straight games early in the week, becoming the first player to double-digits this season. He got one in each game against the Baystars (two wins and a loss) and another in his final at-bat Friday against the Tigers in a losing cause.
Hotaka Yamakawa of the Saitama Seibu Lions also hit four in the past week. He made each of them count, as his team won all three games in which he went yard, including Sunday, when his solo shot in the ninth was the deciding run. He now has nine on the year to lead the Pacific League.
An unexpected source of power and offense this season has been the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, who got four jacks from youngster Yuma Imagawa. The outburst saw his total output this season triple to six. His mate Arismendy Alcantara also deserves mention here, not because of his one home run this past week, but because of what he did last Sunday (April 24). He became the 20th player in NPB history to hit home runs from both sides of the plate in the same game. Finally, one more outstanding Fighter this season has been Go Matsumoto, who maintains a .415 average through five weeks of baseball.
Speaking of hitters who are on a roll, we must also mention Masataka Yoshida of the Orix Buffaloes, who has reached base 17 times this past week (including three home runs), bringing his on-base percentage up to a ridiculous .464 on the year. We should also mention that he is hitting an other-worldly .545 with runners in scoring position.
On the other side of the equation are some starting pitchers who deserve props for the shutouts they tossed (though only one was for a complete game). Shuta Ishikawa (Hawks) shut out the Lions for 5 2/3 innings and his bullpen finished the job on Tuesday in a 3-0 win.
Iori Yamasaki (Giants) blanked the Baystars for six innings on Thursday to help his team to a 7-0 win. Two days later, Cy Sneed (Yakult Swallows) blanked the Baystars for six innings and the Swallows bested the Baystars 2-0.
Daichi Ohsera (Hiroshima Carp) threw a complete-game two-hitter against the Chunichi Dragons on Friday night. However, Yuya Yanagi got revenge for his team in the last game of the series, silencing the Carp for seven innings and earning the W in a 3-0 victory.
The pitchers’ duel of the week goes to Jacob Waguespack (Buffaloes) and Kona Takahashi (Lions), neither of whom allowed a run while on the mound. The former stepped down after five innings, while the latter lasted eight. It was the Buffaloes who got the win.
Tidbits: The Giants lost both ace Tomoyuki Sugano and captain Hayato Sakamoto to injury over the weekend. They also got swept at home by the Tigers for the first time in nine years… Shogo Akiyama (former Lion, released by the Cincinnati Reds) has apparently agreed to a minor-league deal with the San Diego Padres amidst rumors that he would return to Japan… The Tigers hit into a triple play on Wednesday, which was partly made possible because Yoshio Itoi, who was on second base when a liner to first created two outs, thought the third out of the inning had already been recorded.
Good Week: Tigers (5-0), Eagles (4-0-1), Swallows (3-0)
Bad Week: Carp (1-4), Hawks (1-4), Baystars (1-3)