So what do you get the manager that has everything on his birthday?
A couple of more outings like the one Chiba Lotte Marines skipper Bobby Valentine got out of rookie Yuuki Karakawa would be a good start.
Karakawa was dominant on the mound and the Marines were effective at the plate as Lotte defeated the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters 8-2 on Tuesday at Tokyo Dome.
“We saw a great young pitcher pitching today,” Valentine said. “I’m very excited every time to see him go out there.
“It’s a great present,” said Valentine, who turned 58 on Tuesday. “Every win is a special win. He said he wanted to pitch well enough for us to get a win today.”
Karakawa (3-0) was in full control of the proceedings from the start, using an array of fastballs, sliders, changeups and forkballs, to keep the Nippon Ham lineup off balance. One of his few mistakes was a changeup to Atsunori Inaba in the fifth inning that the veteran outfielder sent into the right-field seats.
“You’ll give up a home run sooner or later,” Karakawa said after allowing the first home run of his young career. “So I didn’t really get disappointed. Inaba-san is a good hitter and giving up a homer to him is a great honor.”
The 19-year-old hurler struck out nine and allowed two runs on four hits over eight innings to pick up the win. Karakawa has given up two runs and has a 1.13 ERA over 24 innings in three starts this season.
The young hurler got plenty of backup from Lotte’s 3-4-5 hitters, Kazuya Fukuura, Jose Ortiz and Shoitsu Omatsu, who combined to go 5-for-12 with six RBIs. Daisuke Hayakawa, who batted seventh, also had a multi-hit day (2-for-5) and drove in a run with a solo homer.
“This is one of the first times we’ve gotten our No. 3 and 4 hitters to get multiple hits and multiple RBIs in the same game, and there are many more games like that ahead of us,” Valentine said.
Nippon Ham starter Ryan Glynn had a rough day, taking the loss after allowing six runs on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings. Glynn (1-6) also issued four walks, three of which came during a horrific stretch in the fourth.
With a man on and two outs, Glynn walked Takeshi Kanazawa and Tsuyoshi Nishioka to load the bases, then issued a free pass to Shunichi Nemoto to walk in a run during a span that saw him throw nine consecutive balls.
Hayakawa got the Marines on the board with a second-inning homer to right.
Nemoto helped extend the lead to 2-0 after drawing a bases-loaded walk in the fourth before Fukuura’s two-run single and a two-run double by Ortiz made the score 6-0.
Inaba’s sixth home run of the season pulled the Fighters within five in the fifth, but the Marines pushed the lead to 8-1 on Omatsu’s two-run double by Omatsu in the next inning.
Terrmel Sledge followed with a hard-hit ball to shortstop that struck Nishioka in the head and drove in a run to make the score 8-2 in the seventh.
The two squads will meet in the second game of their three-game series on Wednesday when Lotte’s Hiroyuki Kobayashi (1-5) is scheduled to take the mound against Fighters ace Yu Darvish (5-1) at 6 p.m.
Before Tuesday’s game some of the Marines said they wanted to give Valentine a win on his birthday. Unfortunately for the Fighters, Lotte may have that same motivation during the second game as well.
“Tomorrow is my birthday in the States,” Valentine said. “So it’ll still be my birthday if they want to keep track that way. We have a lot of wins stored up. We’re just starting to play the way we can play.”
Hawks beat Lions
MIYAZAKI (Kyodo) Nobuhiro Matsuda homered and drove in the tiebreaking run and left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada (4-0) pitched two-run ball over 6 1/3 innings, leading the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks to a come-from-behind, 4-2 win over the Pacific League-leading Seibu Lions.
Buffaloes 8, Eagles 2
At Fukushima’s Azuma Stadium, Satoshi Nagai threw a wild pitch with runners at the corners, allowing the tying run in the seventh, and Orix capitalized on three errors to tack on four more runs in the frame to rally in a rout of Tohoku Rakuten.
Carp 9, Tigers 3
At Toyama’s Alpen Stadium, Colby Lewis pitched seven shutout innings and helped his own cause with a two-run double, leading Hiroshima to a rout of Hanshin.
Tigers slugger Tomoaki Kanemoto hit his 400th career homer with a two-run shot in the ninth off Ryuji Yokoyama, becoming the 15th player to reach the milestone in Japanese baseball history.
BayStars 4, Giants 3 (10)
At Nagano Olympic Stadium, Toshihisa Nishi singled in the winning run in the bottom of the 10th as Yokohama rallied from a 3-0 deficit to beat Yomiuri.
Swallows 4, Dragons 1
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Aaron Guiel doubled in two runs and Ryo Kawashima threw five effective innings as Yakult beat Chunichi to earn its fourth win in five games.