CHIBA – Daichi Suzuki hit the first two homers of the Pacific League season, driving in four runs in the Chiba Lotte Marines’ 12-2 whipping of the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles on Tuesday afternoon.
Prior to Suzuki’s first shot, the pitchers of the six PL teams had not allowed a ball over the fence in 179 innings since the start of the season on Friday.
“I’ll make sure to save tomorrow’s newspaper,” said Suzuki, who hit six home runs last season, when he was reminded that he now leads the league.
The game, however, was essentially over before Suzuki belted his first one out to right in the sixth inning. With the game tied 1-1 in the sixth, Suzuki walked with two outs against lefty Wataru Karashima (0-1), who surrendered a single and loaded the bases with another walk before leaving the game.
Right-handed reliever Takaaki Yokoyama, who has been tasked this spring by new Rakuten manager Masataka Nashida with shutting the door in the middle innings, missed with a 1-0 two-seamer, that Yoshifumi Okada lifted to center. Rakuten’s new outfield alignment, however, showed it is still a work in progress as a catchable ball went for a three-run triple.
Left fielder Zelous Wheeler and center fielder Kazuo Matsui, who had failed to communicate smoothly on a fly ball to left in the second, once more crossed paths. Although Wheeler got out of Matsui’s way, the center fielder seemed to have one eye on his teammate as he lunged for the ball and just missed.
Yokoyama stayed in the game for the seventh inning and got hammered for six runs, three earned. Suzuki followed an RBI triple by Katsuya Kakunaka with a two-run homer that made it 7-1, and back-to-back errors helped three unearned runs score in the inning.
Ayumu Ishikawa (1-0) allowed a run on four hits and three walks over seven innings to earn the win.
Lions 6, Hawks 2
At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, ace Takayuki Kishi (1-0) threw seven scoreless innings and Takeya Nakamura homered and scored three runs as Seibu spoiled southpaw Tsuyoshi Wada’s return to Fukuoka SoftBank after four seasons in the United States.
Wada, a former Chicago Cub, allowed four runs in six innings to take the loss.
Fighters 13, Buffaloes 3
At Sapporo Dome, slugging Hokkaido Nippon Ham ace Shohei Otani went 2-for-3 with a home run and a career high five RBIs as the Fighters buried Orix in their home opener.
Giants 6, BayStars 2
At Yokohama Stadium, Luis Cruz and Garret Jones each went deep for the second time this season for Yomiuri, while Aaron Poreda (1-0) worked seven scoreless innings to spoil Yokohama’s home opener.
The game was the first matchup between former teammates and rookie managers Yoshinobu Takahashi of the Giants and Alex Ramirez of the BayStars.
Tigers 6, Swallows 2
At Jingu Stadium, Shintaro Fujinami (1-0) threw 8-2/3 innings, while Mauro Gomez scored twice and drove in four runs for Hanshin against Tokyo Yakult.
The Swallows remained NPB’s only winless team, losing their first four games for the first time in nine years.
Dragons 4, Carp 2
At Nagoya Dome, Ricardo Nanita’s two-run, sixth-inning double tied it, and Shuhei Takahashi’s run-scoring double put Chunichi in the lead for good as the Dragons came from behind to down Hiroshima and win their home opener.