Miles Mikolas turned in a very good start for the Yomiuri Giants for the second consecutive week. This time, he even got something to show for it.
Mikolas struck out 10 over eight shutout innings, got a big assist from his offense and left Tokyo Dome with the winning ball after the Giants’ 4-1 victory over the Seibu Lions in an interleague game in front of a crowd of 44,348 at the Big Egg on Thursday.
“Mikolas’ pitching has been improving,” Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said. “Tonight, he threw his best game and deserved to win.”
It was a win Mikolas (1-2) had probably been looking forward to since the season began. He’d pitched very well in his last outing, throwing seven-plus innings of one-run ball against the Hanshin Tigers on May 21, but entered Thursday’s game with a pair of losses and a 4.03 ERA after five starts.
“I know that the Giants have many good pitchers, so I know that if I didn’t start to do well, that I could lose my job,” said Mikolas, who lowered his ERA to 3.16. “But the confidence I had in myself never wavered. I think it’s important for all pitchers to be very confident in themselves.
“I knew that I had confidence, but I needed to show what I was capable of. I think the last two games have really shown the way that I should be pitching and the way that I know that I can continue to pitch.”
Giants reliever Hirokazu Sawamura recorded the final three outs and made sure the winning ball found its way to the Yomiuri starter.
“Sawamura is a great teammate,” Mikolas said. It was nice of him to save the ball for me.”
Mikolas’ other teammates lent him a helping hand earlier in the game.
Giants first baseman Leslie Anderson hit his third home run of the season, a solo shot, and Yoshinobu Takahashi had an RBI single. Both players finished with a pair of hits.
“That was a typical Anderson home run,” Hara said. “He had a good swing and put the ball in the right-field stands.”
Yomiuri second baseman Yasuyuki Kataoka, who spent his first nine seasons with Seibu, chipped in with a two-run double.
The Lions didn’t have many answers for Mikolas, recording just five hits off the left-hander.
Mikolas found a lot of success with his breaking balls, especially against the more dangerous hitters in the Seibu lineup, and said that helped him keep the Lions off balance for most of the night.
“When I’m throwing my breaking balls for strikes, they always have to be ready for an off-speed pitch,” Mikolas said. “If I have my good fastball that day, especially when they have to look for breaking balls in the zone, it can make them late on the fastball.
“If I’m throwing my good fastball, it can definitely be a little overpowering, but I think if I’m only throwing my fastball for strikes, they’ll be ready for the fastball. But if I’m throwing everything else for strikes, they have to kind of be on their toes more.”
Lions slugger Takeya Nakamura went down swinging three times against Mikolas. Nakamura finally made contact in the ninth, hitting a solo home run, his 12th of the year, off Sawamura.
“I do remember that particular hitter hit a home run off me in the preseason (on March 14 at Seibu Prince Dome), so I was a little more cautious, and I tried to get back at him a little more I guess,” Mikolas said of Nakamura.
Lions starter Fumiya Nishiguchi (0-1) hasn’t historically had much success at Tokyo Dome and nothing was different on Thursday. The 42-year-old pitcher took the loss in his first start of the season, allowing four runs on six hits in four innings. Nishiguchi, seldom used in recent seasons, hasn’t recorded a win since beating the Orix Buffaloes on June 23, 2012.
Anderson got the scoring started with his solo homer in the second.
“I’m glad I was able to give us the lead and score first,” Anderson said. “I think Miles got more confident after that.”
Takahashi added his run-scoring single in the fourth and Kataoka rubbed salt in the wound with a two-run double later in the inning.
Mikolas and Sawamura took it home from there to give the Giants the victory.
“Miles pitched a really great game,” Anderson said. “I’m happy for him that he finally got his first win.”
Yanagita belts two HRs
Yuki Yanagita hit a pair of solo homers to give him 10 on the season as the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks defeated the Chunichi Dragons 7-2 on Thursday.
Yanagita led Softbank’s comeback from a run down to beat Chunichi behind Shota Takeda (4-2), who allowed a run in six innings.
Marines 12, Carp 10
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Chiba Lotte hammered former CL Rookie of the Year Yusuke Nomura (3-3) for 10 runs — eight earned — in six innings and held on to beat Hiroshima.
Buffaloes 4, BayStars 3
At Yokohama Stadium, Brandon Dickson (6-3) threw seven scoreless innings and singled and scored a run as Orix held off Yokohama, which scored three runs in the ninth off closer Yoshihisa Hirano.
Swallows 7, Fighters 4
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Tokyo Yakult’s Shingo Kawabata and Mitch Dening each drove in a pair of runs in support of lefty Yoshihisa Naruse (2-5) in a win over Hokkaido Nippon Ham.
Naruse allowed four runs — two earned — in 7-1/3 innings to snap a five-game losing skid.
Tigers 4, Eagles 3 (11)
At Koshien Stadium, a night after hitting a two-run sayonara home run, Kosuke Fukudome had two RBIs and drove in the winning run by drawing a bases-loaded walk in the 11th inning as Hanshin overcame a three-run deficit to beat Rakuten.