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Sugano makes impressive debut for Giants

Teams settle for 1-1 tie

by Jason Coskrey

Staff Writer

Tomoyuki Sugano was as good as advertised in his long-anticipated professional debut for the Yomiuri Giants, but he still went home without a win.

Sugano held the Hiroshima Carp in check, but the Carp were able to return the favor as Hiroshima and Yomiuri played to a 12-inning, 1-1 tie in front of 44,272 on Saturday night at Tokyo Dome.

“He had pretty good life on his fastball,” Carp outfielder Fred Lewis said of Sugano. “He was pretty good. I think he’s got a bright future.”

Sugano, Giants manager Tatsunori Hara’s nephew, was originally drafted by the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters in 2011, but didn’t sign with the Fighters and sat out the 2012 season in hopes of re-entering the draft and being chosen by the Kyojin.

He got his wish last season, and on Saturday became the first Yomiuri rookie since 1965, the first year of the draft, to start one the Giants’ first two games to open a season. He struck out nine over seven innings of one-run ball, allowing five hits and walking one, but finished outside of the decision.

“It looks like he has pretty decent stuff,” said Carp first baseman Brad Eldred. “Obviously he’s a guy we’re going to have to figure out what he has. First time seeing him. We’ll see what we do in the future.”

The Carp’s Ryuhei Matsuyama and the Giants’ Jose Lopez drove in the only two runs of the game. The tie was a new experience for Lewis, who is in his first season in Japan.

“I’ve never seen that before,” Lewis said. “To come up empty like that, and not to get the W, all I can say is, it is what it is.”

Carp center fielder Yoshihiro Maru doubled to begin the fourth and remained at second while Sugano struck out Eldred and Lewis. The rookie couldn’t make it three-for-three to end the frame as Matsuyama came up with an broken-bat RBI single to put the Carp ahead 1-0.

A one-out single from Shuichi Murata and two-out RBI double by Lopez helped the Kyojin pull even in the bottom of the sixth, with neither team able to gain an advantage from that point on.

The two teams will close out their season-opening series with their aces on the mound. Kenta Maeda will get the start for the Carp, while 2012 Japan Series MVP Tetsuya Utsumi is set to toe the rubber for the Giants.

Swallows edge TigersKYODO

Lefty Masanori Ishikawa came within one out of a shutout as the Tokyo Yakult Swallows held off the Hanshin Tigers 1-0 to win their first game of the 2013 regular season on Saturday.

Ishikawa (1-0) allowed three hits, struck out four and walked three in a 127-pitch outing at Jingu Stadium. Tony Barnette struck out Brooks Conrad swinging for the final out to pick up the save.

Kazuhiro Hatakeyama drove in the sole run on an attempted double play grounder to shortstop in the first inning. The Tigers squandered a one-out, bases-loaded opportunity in the first. In the battle of lefties, Hanshin starter Minoru Iwata (0-1) pitched one-run ball over seven innings.

BayStars 4, Dragons 2

At Nagoya Dome, Alex Ramirez hit a two-run single to cap a four-run third inning and moved within four hits of his 2,000th career milestone as the BayStars beat Chunichi and won their first two games of the season for the first time in 13 years.

Daisuke Miura (1-0) held the damage to two runs and five hits in seven-plus innings. He struck out four and walked two.

Dragons starter Yudai Ono (0-1) fell apart when he issued consecutive walks to start the third.

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Eagles 3, Hawks 1

At Fukuoka’s Yahoo Dome, Akihisa Makida hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer run in the fourth inning, Brandon Duckworth (1-0) pitched seven effective innings of one-run ball, and Tohoku Rakuten defeated Fukuoka Softbank to get its first win of the season.

Seiichi Uchikawa went 3-for-4 with an RBI single for the Hawks, who rapped out seven hits through the fifth but were held hitless the final four frames. Hiroki Yamada (0-1) took the loss.

Lions 4, Fighters 2

At Tokorozawa’s Seibu Dome, lefty Yusei Kikuchi dug himself in and out of trouble over 5 1/3 shutout innings, Hideto Asamura went 2-for-2 with two RBIs, and Seibu staved off Hokkaido Nippon Ham.

Kikuchi (1-0) allowed runners on in each inning he pitched, yielding four hits while striking out six and walking four. Brain Wolfe (0-1) limited the damage to two runs in six innings but was tagged for the loss. Shogo Akiyama hit a solo blast in the sixth.

Marines 5, Buffaloes 4 (12)

At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Kazuya Fukuura hit a sacrifice fly with one out in the 12th inning, lifting Chiba Lotte to its second consecutive sayonara win.

Pinch hitter Josh Whitesell tied it 4-4 with a sac fly in the eighth, forcing extra innings. Orix outhit Lotte 15-10 but stranded 14 runners. Cleanup man Lee Dae Ho led off the second with a homer to the stands in left and went 3-for-6 with two RBIs for the Buffaloes.