NISHINOMIYA, HYOGO PREF. – Lefty Atsushi Nomi became the first pitcher to beat Yomiuri this season, throwing a five-hit shutout in the Hanshin Tigers’ 2-0 victory over the Giants on Tuesday at Koshien Stadium.
The Giants had started the season with seven wins and a tie, equaling a franchise record for winning decisions to start the season.
Matt Murton went 3-for-4 and broke up a scoreless pitching duel with an RBI single off Giants youngster Ryosuke Miyaguni in the sixth. Murton, who was flayed in the media a year ago for comments that were misrepresented in the press regarding Nomi, embraced the pitcher on the postgame heroes’ podium and said, “Nomi, I love you!” in Japanese.
With two outs in the sixth, Murton singled in Yamato Maeda from second and took second on the throw home. He then scored on a single by Kosuke Fukudome.
Nomi (1-0) walked none and struck out 10 before a crowd of 44,019 at the Tigers’ first home game this season at their historic ballpark.
“I knew there would be a lot of fans here tonight, so I wanted to go at full throttle,” Nomi said. “The Tigers fans are an X-factor for us. I figured we’d score sooner or later, so I kept battling.”
Miyaguni (0-1), who will turn 21 next week, was the Giants’ Opening Day starter. He held Hanshin hitless until two outs in the fourth inning.
Tsuyoshi Nishioka helped set up the first run with a leadoff double. A poor bunt by Maeda doomed Nishioka near third. The speedster, however, stayed in a rundown, allowing Maeda to advance into scoring position and score on Murton’s single.
Dragons 5, Swallows 0
At Nagoya Dome, Chunichi turned back the clock to beat Tokyo Yakult behind 42-year-old catcher Motonobu Tanishige and 47-year-old southpaw Masahiro Yamamoto (1-0). Tanishige had three hits, including a pair of doubles and drove in two runs, while Yamamoto threw six innings of one-hit ball.
Tanishige moved to within 18 hits of 2,000 in his career. Yamamoto extended his record as the oldest starting pitcher to earn a win in Japanese pro baseball at 47 years, 7 months. The oldest player to win a game is Hall of Famer Shinji Hamazaki with the Hankyu Braves, who won in relief at the age of 48 years, 5 months in 1950.
Carp 9, BayStars 2
At Yokohama Stadium, Hiroshima hammered Yokohama southpaw Enyelbert Soto (0-1) for nine runs in three innings en route to winning back-to-back games for the first time this season.
Leadoff man Ryosuke Kikuchi reached base four times and opened the scoring on Brad Eldred’s first-inning RBI single. The Carp scored four runs in the first and five in the third, while right-hander Kan Otake (1-1) allowed two runs in 7 2/3 innings.
The BayStars’ Tony Blanco hit his Japan-best sixth home run in the sixth.
Eagles 9, Fighters 1
At Tokyo Dome, Tohoku Rakuten ace Masahiro Tanaka (2-0) allowed an unearned run on five hits and no walks over seven innings to beat Hokkaido Nippon Ham behind a bottom-of-the-order explosion that lifted the Eagles back into first place.
Rakuten No. 6 hitter Casey McGehee went 3-for-5 and No. 7 man Ginji Akaminai contributed with two homers and three RBIs. Catcher and No. 8 hitter Motohiro Shima opened the scoring with a two-out, second-inning homer that plated McGehee and Akaminai.
Buffaloes 2, Hawks 1
At Fukuoka’s Yahoo Dome, new Orix right-hander Shun Tono won his PL debut, allowing a run in 5 2/3, while the Buffaloes managed two runs on just three hits. Another new Buffalo, Yoshio Itoi, broke the ice with a third-inning RBI single
Tono, acquired from the Yomiuri Giants in a November trade, surrendered six hits, while walking two batters and striking out five.
Marines 3, Lions 2
At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Lotte’s Katsuya Kakunaka tied the game 2-2 in the seventh with an RBI single, while Seibu relievers followed by hitting Tadahito Iguchi and Josh Whitesell to push across the go-ahead run.
Seibu submarine right-hander Kazuhisa Makita left with a one-run lead after six innings, but reliever Shuichiro Osada (0-1) surrendered three straight two-out singles as Chiba Lotte came from behind.
New Fukuoka Softbank Hawks import Vicente Padilla was deactivated on Tuesday due to stiffness in his right forearm, the Pacific League club announced.
Padilla, a former major league rotation mainstay, allowed three runs in five innings in his Japan debut on April 4, but was scratched from his scheduled start six days later.
The 35-year-old Nicaraguan has a career record of 108-91 with five big league clubs.
Expecting a large crowd when popular Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters rookie Shohei Otani takes to the mound in an Eastern League game on Thursday, the Chiba Lotte Marines have moved the game to their home ballpark, the EL announced Tuesday.
The popular rookie pitcher has been playing right field in the Fighters’ Pacific League games, but has yet to pitch for the first team in a regular season game. The announcement that Otani would pitch caused Lotte to shift the venue from its tiny minor league facility in Urawa, Saitama Prefecture, to QVC Marine Field in Chiba.
Since Lotte’s top team is scheduled to take the field against the Seibu Lions there at 6:15 p.m., the minor league game’s start has been moved from 1 p.m. to 11 a.m.
“We think there will be an incredible crowd,” said Lotte’s director of business operations Nobuhira Hayashi. “We looked into what we could do to cope at Urawa, but it is just too difficult, and as the home team, we are responsible for security.”
Balentien back on field
Two-time Central League home run champ Wladimir Balentien returned to the field on Tuesday in a game between the Tokyo Yakult Swallows’ Eastern League club and an independent league team.
Balentien has not been activated this season by the Swallows since he suffered a thigh injury during the World Baseball Classic while playing for the Netherlands. On Tuesday, he batted third as the designated hitter in a game against Niigata Albirex BC.
The Swallows, who opened a three-game series against the Chunichi Dragons at Nagoya Dome on Tuesday, will be at Tokyo Dome over the weekend, when Balentien is expected to rejoin the team.
“If his leg is OK, then we should have him from the Tokyo Dome series,” Swallows manager Junji Ogawa said.