To reach his latest milestone, Alex Ramirez went back to where it all began.
Ramirez became the second foreign player to hit 20 home runs in 10 consecutive seasons with a solo blast in the fourth inning that helped the Yomiuri Giants defeat the Tokyo Yakult Swallows 5-1 on Tuesday night at Jingu Stadium.
“It’s a blessing to be able to hit 20 home runs in 10 consecutive seasons,” Ramirez said.
Ramirez now has 20 home runs in each of his 10 seasons in Japan and 307 in his NPB career. Tuffy Rhodes was the only other foreigner to achieve the feat.
“It’s one of the reasons I have been here this long,” Ramirez said. “I have been consistent. I play hard and I give my best every time I step on the field.”
Ramirez spent most of his career at Jingu Stadium with the Swallows, where he played from 2001-07.
“I hit my first home run here 10 years ago,” Ramirez said. “Now I hit the home run to give me 10 straight years with 20 home runs here. To be able to do it in front of my ex-fans . . . I really appreciate them and all they have done for me.”
The milestone was the latest triumph in what has been a superb career for Ramirez.
“I look at what I have accomplished, and it takes a lot of dedication,” Ramirez said. “I hope the other foreign guys and the younger players can look to that.”
Ramirez’s homer gave the Giants reason to celebrate, but they got a scare in the ninth inning.
Leading 5-1, the Giants sent closer Marc Kroon to the mound to nail down the win. Kroon retired the first two batters easily, but suffered a leg injury during his delivery to the third batter of the inning, Kazuki Fukuchi.
“I felt like I had a cramp in my leg,” Kroon said. “I felt it when I came down. It felt like it just cramped up on me.”
The Yomiuri trainers came out and Kroon took a couple of practice pitches before being removed from the game. Kiyoshi Toyoda replaced him, eventually retiring the Swallows to end the contest.
Asked if he thought the injury was serious, Kroon didn’t have an answer.
“I don’t know,” Kroon said. “I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.”
Yomiuri’s Hisayoshi Chono broke out of a slump with a big night at the plate. Chono finished 2-for-4 with a two-run homer and three RBIs. The rookie entered the game batting .132 in 11 contests this month, but is 5-for-13 (.385) in his last three games.
Yomiuri starter Shun Tono improved to 9-2 on the season, tying Hiroshima Carp ace Kenta Maeda for the Central League lead in wins. He threw six innings and allowed one run on five hits and struck out five.
Kyohei Muranaka (4-6) got the start for the home team, allowing three runs on three hits. Muranaka walked two and struck out four in 6 1/3 innings.
Dragons beat ‘Stars
YOKOHAMA (Kyodo) Tony Blanco, Masahiko Morino and Kazuhiro Wada each homered as Chunichi came from behind, Hitoki Iwase picked up his career 252nd save to put him in a tie for 2nd place on the all-time list and the Chunichi Dragons defeated the Yokohama BayStars 5-2.
Morino had a tying sac fly in the sixth inning before Blanco hit a two-run blast with two outs for a 3-1 lead against Daisuke Miura (3-5). Morino and Wada had back-to-back homers in the eighth for insurance.
Tigers 13, Carp 7 (11)
Lions 5, Eagles 3
At Sendai’s Kleenex Stadium, Takayuki Kishi threw six effective innings as Saitama Seibu beat Tohoku Rakuten for its fourth straight win.
Fighters 7, Hawks 0
At Fukuoka’s Yahoo Dome Masaru Takeda threw his first career shutout and Makoto Kaneko drove in three runs as Hokkakido Nippon Ham beat Softbank for its fourth straight win.
Buffaloes 9, Marines 1
At Chiba Marine Stadium, Hiroshi Kisanuki pitched one-run ball over eight innings and Hisao Arakane and Alex Cabrera drove in three runs each as Orix snapped its three-game losing streak with a win over Chiba Lotte.