Jason Standridge pitched a shutout and Takahiro Arai homered for the third consecutive game as the Hanshin Tigers whipped the Yomiuri Giants 5-0 on Tuesday evening at Tokyo Dome.
Standridge (3-2) worked quickly to win his third straight decision in 2 hours, 25 minutes. The 34-year-old, who pitched in the majors for Tampa Bay, Texas, Cincinnati and Kansas City, surrendered six hits and struck out five without issuing a walk as the Tigers closed to within 3 1/2 games of the Central League-leading Giants.
Yomiuri lefty Toshiya Sugiuchi (3-1) allowed three home runs for the first time since July 30, 2006, when he was pitching for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks against the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters at Tokyo Dome. He gave up five runs on four hits and a walk over eight innings.
The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the third, when Akihito Fujii hit a high lifeless fastball into the seats in left for a solo homer. In the fourth inning, Arai came up following a two-out walk by his younger brother Ryota. He hit a 2-1 fastball away into the first row of the right-field seats for a three-run homer.
“Ryota really hung in there to draw a walk, and I didn’t think the pitcher wanted to issue another one,” Arai said.
“I’m hitting well, the atmosphere on the team is good and I think we’re ready to make some noise.”
Arai made it 5-0 in the seventh when he really got hold of one and blasted it into the left-field stands.
Hanshin,which play in spacious Koshien Stadium, entered the game fifth in the CL in home runs with 18.
“When we are at home at Koshien, we build rallies, but at Tokyo Dome, we are able to go to (an) aerial attack,” said Tigers skipper Yutaka Wada, a former infielder who gave Standridge credit for a string of sharp plays by the Hanshin fielders.
“When the pitcher works with that kind of rhythm, it is really easy to play defense.”
BayStars 7, Carp 3
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Yokohama scored three runs in the second inning, when Hiroshima shortstop Ryosuke Kikuchi made errors on back-to-back, bases-loaded groundouts as the BayStars defeated Carp ace Kenta Maeda (3-1) to win their fourth straight game.
Right-hander Shoichi Ino (1-4), a 27-year-old rookie, allowed three runs in five-plus innings on six hits and three walks, and earned his first pro win.
Swallows 6, Dragons 0
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Yakult lefty Kyohei Muranaka (3-1) scattered five hits and four walks over eight innings, and rookie Taichi Ishiyama completed the shutout as the Swallows won their third straight by beating Chunichi.
Lastings Milledge highlighted a four-run eighth inning with a two-run home run, his third of the season. Dragons ace Kazuki Yoshimi (1-4) allowed two runs on six hits and a walk over 4 1/3 innings to take the loss.
Setback for Otani
Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters rookie Shohei Otani left his minor league start on Tuesday after one inning due to a torn finger nail, his team said.
Otani, a highly regarded pitcher in high school, has been employed by the Fighters as an outfielder in the club’s Pacific League games, and so far the right-hander has only pitched in a pair of minor league games.
The 18-year-old allowed an unearned run in one inning in Tuesday’s Eastern League game against the Yomiuri Giants at Giants Stadium in Kawasaki. Although scheduled to go two innings, Otani was yanked as a precaution after one frame, with a damaged nail on the middle finger of his right hand.
Otani walked the first batter he faced. A sacrifice, a groundout and an error conspired to push across an unearned run, although he did punch out former Fighters hero Michihiro Ogasawara swinging.
“I was able to throw some nasty pitches from the set position,” said Otani, who hit 151 kph on the radar gun soon after returning from a sprained right ankle he suffered in the outfield with Nippon Ham’s first team.
“It (my nail) feels trivial. I was told I could throw like I usually do (in my next bullpen).”
It seems unlikely that the nail will keep him from playing in the outfield for the big club, where the left-handed-hitting Otani has seven hits, including two doubles, in 26 at-bats.