As always, there was plenty of action on the field, and even a little bit of big news away from the ballpark as well! And as you’ll see, the Pacific League standings are knotted about as tight as they have ever been before. Let’s peek in on the action from the past week of baseball!
Tuesday: The Saitama Seibu Lions used three straight home runs (Tomoya Mori on his 8th pitch, Hotaka Yamakawa on his 13th pitch, and Nien Ting Wu on his 3rd pitch) to put away the Chiba Lotte Marines by a 3-2 score at Belluna Dome. It was the first time in three seasons that the Lions accomplished the feat. The last two times they did it (2018 and 2019), they won the PL pennant. Their .5275 win percentage has them in a three-way tie for first place with the SoftBank Hawks (.5284) and the Orix Buffaloes (.5270).
Wednesday: The Yomiuri Giants had themselves a home run party at Tokyo Dome at the expense of the Yokohama DeNA Baystars. Naoki Yoshikawa hit a solo shot in the second, Adam Walker hit a grand slam and Gregory Polanco hit a three-run shot in the fourth, and Sho Nakata and Polanco each hit two-run homers in the sixth. As a team, they hit for the “home run cycle” and won 18-3.
Thursday: Chunichi Dragons’ outfielder Kosuke Fukudome announced retirement from professional baseball at the age of 45. The NPB elder statesman played for 11 seasons with the Dragons before playing three seasons in MLB (Chicago Cubs, etc.). He returned to NPB at the age of 35 and had 8 rather successful seasons with the Hanshin Tigers. He returned to his pro roots in 2021 and is finishing his career with the Dragons and having collected 1952 NPB + 498 MLB hits, 285 NPB + 42 MLB home runs, and 1078 NPB + 195 MLB RBIs. Now that’s an impressive career!
Friday: Fukudome’s Dragons blew their slim 1-0 ninth-inning lead against the Giants but won in extras at Tokyo Dome, 3-1. The game-winning run was scored on a squeeze play, as Toshiki Abe pulled the trigger, allowing Yuki Okabayashi to score from third. The Dragons are the only NPB team that is undefeated when leading through eight innings.
Saturday: The offensive barrage of the season took place at Jingu Stadium, and it did not involve the home team. The Hiroshima Carp scored an NPB season-high 12 runs in the top of the third inning (including home runs by Shota Dohbayashi, Shogo Sakakura and Takashi Uemoto that accounted for 7 runs). They actually were in danger of blowing that lead entirely in the bottom of the fourth but slammed the door before too much damage was done, and tacked on insurance later to win 15-7.
Sunday: It was a day for the pitchers to shine. Four games ended in shutouts as…
- Kaito Yoza and the Lions shut down the Nippon-Ham Fighters 3-0,
- Yuji Akahoshi and the Giants throttled the Carp 7-0,
- Junya Nishi and the Hanshin Tigers silenced the Dragons 5-0, and
- Yasuhiro Ogawa and the Swallows blanked the Baystars 1-0.
And with that win, the Swallows got themselves a magic number of 11 to clinch the CL pennant.
Finally, NPB named its players of the month for August, and they are as follows: