Lefty Ryosuke Yagi allowed a run in seven innings and got plenty of run support as the Tokyo Yakult Swallows crushed the Hanshin Tigers 13-1 on Monday evening.
Yagi (1-1) scattered seven hits and two walks, while striking out three, and teammates Takahiro Araki and Yuhei Takai each hit a pair of home runs before the home fans at Jingu Stadium. The Swallows were without home run king Wladimir Balentien, who was sidelined by a slight groin injury.
“When you’re without your cleanup hitter, each player has to take care of business the way he’s capable,” Yagi said. ” I accomplished that. My fastball was good tonight. That’s my bread and butter. I was able to show my breaking pitches and set up the fastball.
“The biggest thing was keeping them off the board in the seventh (when Hanshin loaded the bases with two outs). That could have let them back in the game. My goal was just to take care of one hitter at a time, and think about one inning at a time. We have the kind of lineup that can score for you if you can keep the opponents in check.”
The Swallows rapped out 17 hits.
Yakult took the lead in the first. Kazuhiro Hatakeyama, batting in Balentien’s No. 4 spot, promptly brought Tetsuto Yamada home from third with a sacrifice fly off Tigers right-hander Randy Messenger (2-4).
Matt Murton singled with one out in the second, took second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on a single and scored on Kosuke Fukudome’s grounder. The grounder had double-play potential, but first baseman Hatakeyama bobbled the ball and lost his chance for an out at the plate.
The hosts made it 2-1 in the bottom half when Araki turned on a 3-2 fastball and pulled it into the left-field stands.
Messenger’s command went south in the fourth inning, and the Swallows scored three more. Takai opened by belting a hanging first-pitch slider over the center-field fence. Back-to-back walks followed and the runners were cashed in on a single by No. 8 hitter Yuhei Nakamura and a sac fly by Yamada.
Messenger, who tossed a two-hit shutout in his previous start, allowed five runs on eight hits in four innings. He struck out five and walked two.
Kazuo Ito, Hanshin’s fourth pitcher, walked the first two batters he faced in the seventh as Yakult put up three more runs. Ito also gave up Araki’s three-run homer in the eighth inning.
“The guys went to bat with a good plan against Messenger,” Swallows skipper Junji Ogawa said. “We did a good job of generating offense without Balentien and that’s a confidence builder for us.”
Carp 5, BayStars 2
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Bryan Bullington (4-3) allowed eight hits but just two runs over seven innings and Central League-leading Hiroshima came from behind to beat Yokohama.
BayStars starter Kisho Kagami (0-1) surrendered three runs in the fifth after he retired the first two batters.
Giants 3, Dragons 2
At Nagoya Dome, Tomoyuki Sugano improved to 6-0 as he allowed two runs — one earned — in seven innings, and Yomiuri’s batters overturned a two-run deficit to beat Chunichi.
Hayato Sakamoto went 3-for-4, drove in the first Giants run and scored the other two.
Eagles 5, Lions 0
At Seibu Dome, Tohoku Rakuten lefty Takashi Kawai (1-0) showed good command and worked into the sixth inning in his season debut, and three relievers held Seibu hitless to complete a four-hit shutout.
Takero Okajima opened the scoring with a third-inning solo homer, and Andruw Jones cushioned the lead with a two-run, sixth-inning double.
Buffaloes 2, Marines 1
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Ryoichi Adachi singled in the tying run and then scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch as Orix came from a run down in the fourth to beat Chiba Lotte and snap a four-game losing streak.
Takahiro Matsuba (1-0), the Buffaloes’ top draft pick in 2012, worked five-plus innings to win his season debut.
Hawks 3, Fighters 2
At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, Yuya Hasegawa broke a 2-2 tie in with a sixth-inning RBI double, and Fukuoka Softbank exploited an error to score twice in the fourth and went on to snap Hokkaido Nippon Ham’s five-game winning streak.