Don’t look now but here come Seth Greisinger and the Yomiuri Giants.
Greisinger overcame a shaky start to turn in a solid outing and even laid down a squeeze bunt as the Giants took sole possession of second place in the Central League with a 4-1 win over the Yokohama BayStars on Friday night at Tokyo Dome.
The Giants hurler helped his own cause with a squeeze bunt that scored a run. Greisinger said it was the first squeeze he ever got down in his career.
“In high school I might have had one but I think I missed it,” Greisinger said.
Greisinger (8-6) got off to a rocky start, giving up an early single and committing a throwing error in the first which contributed to Yokohama putting runners on the corners with one out later in the inning.
The Yomiuri starter got out of the jam unharmed by striking out last season’s home run king, Shunichi Murata, and got an assist when catcher Shinnosuke Abe threw out Seiichi Uchikawa attempting to steal second.
Greisinger ran into more trouble in the second, loading the bases with none out. He retired the next three batters in order to again get out of the jam unscathed.
“I knew I had to try and make quality pitches,” Greisinger said. “I had bases loaded with no outs. To tell you the truth I was just trying to get out of there maybe giving up one run or something. Just (trying) to keep us in the ball game.”
Greisinger settled down as the game wore on, retiring the next 10 batters he faced. He threw seven innings, striking out five to win his second straight decision.
“I just tried to pick up my tempo a little,” Greisinger said. “Especially after we got that first run. I wanted to get out there and force them to hit the ball early and hopefully hit it to our guys.”
Yoshitomo Tani got the Giants on the board first with a deep drive that snuck over the wall in right field to give the home team a 1-0 advantage in the second inning.
Yoshinobu Takahashi and Manabu Iwadate followed Greisinger’s bunt in the fourth with a pair of RBI doubles which put the Giants ahead 4-0.
Uchikawa homered off Yomiuri reliever Koji Uehara in the eighth to trim the lead to 4-1.
Yomiuri entered the season as one of the favorites to win the CL, but has been plagued by injuries and a sluggish start, only recently getting back above .500.
The Mighty Kyojin have recently looked more like the team they were expected to be, going 11-5-1 over their last 16 games. They are alone in second place in the CL standings following their win and the Chunichi Dragons’ loss to Tokyo Yakult.
“Greisinger pitched a great game and executed the squeeze so well. That was the key to today’s win,” Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said.
The Yomiuri starter said he wasn’t expecting the squeeze sign and went over to the Giants’ third base coach to confirm the sign prior to the play.
“I thought they were going to give me another bunt sign,” Greisinger said. “I didn’t know it was going to be a squeeze.”
Swallows fly high
NAGOYA, (Kyodo) Yasushi Iihara broke a 2-2 tie in the eighth inning with a pinch-hit two-run single as the Tokyo Yakult Swallows beat the Chunichi Dragons 4-2 at Nagoya Dome on Friday.
Iihara singled to left off Kenshin Kawakami (7-4) after the Swallows loaded the bases with two outs on two singles and a walk. The Dragons ace gave up four runs and 11 hits in eight innings.
Tigers 2, Carp 1 (11)
Lions 12, Buffaloes 4
At Skymark Stadium, Takeya Nakamura homered twice and Hiroyuki Nakajima and Craig Brazell also went deep Friday as Saitama Seibu hammered Orix 12-4.
Nakamura had a leadoff drive in a three-run second inning and capped a five-run fourth with a two-run blast to make it 10-0 after back-to-back solo drives by Nakajima and Brazell off Ramon Ortiz (3-6) in the third.
Fighters 3, Hawks 2
At Sapporo Dome, Yu Darvish matched a league high with his seventh complete game of the season, striking out nine Hawks batters, to help Hokkaido Nippon Ham end a three-game losing streak.
Marines 4, Eagles 0
At Sendai’s Kleenex Stadium, Shoitsu Omatsu’s eight-inning sacrifice fly broke a scoreless deadlock and Shinichi Nemoto put the icing on the cake with an inside-the-park three-run homer in the ninth as Chiba Lotte blanked Tohoku Rakuten.