CHIBA – The Yokohama BayStars scored the tie-breaking run on lefty reliever Takahiro Matsunaga’s wild pitch in the eighth inning and staved off the Chiba Lotte Marines in a 4-1 win on Saturday afternoon.
Takehiro Ishikawa was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and after a failed bunt, Tony Blanco went up the middle with his second line single of the game to put runners at the corners. With two outs and Hiroyuki Shirasaki at bat, Matsunaga (2-2) threw a slider into the dirt to bring home the go-ahead run for a 2-1 lead.
In the ninth, rookie Tomo Otosaka added a pinch-hit solo home run to right field in his first career at-bat. Shigeo Yanagida’s two-out RBI single capped the scoring.
“I tried to stay as relaxed as I could in the at-bat,” said the 20-year-old Otosaka, who connected on a 1-2 fastball from star Lotte reliever Naoya Masuda. “I felt grateful for the opportunity I was given by the manager. It was my first at-bat, so I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t passive, and I was determined to swing early in the count.”
Yokohama starter Guillermo Moscoso held his opponents hitless until the fifth inning, when the Marines tied it.
“It was a tough game but we played aggressive baseball today,” said BayStars manger Kiyoshi Nakahata. “Otosaka produced a result. I wanted to give him a chance. That home run was a game decider for us,” he said.
Yokohama cleanup hitter Blanco’s RBI single opened the scoring in the first in front of a weekend afternoon crowd of 24,840 at QVC Marine Field.
Sho Aranami led off the game with a single to left, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt to first and came home when Blanco lined a two-out single up the middle on a high fastball over the plate from rookie right-hander Ayumu Ishikawa.
Moscoso flashed brilliance early on as he retired the first five batters he faced before issuing a two-out walk to Shunichi Nemoto in the second.
Nemoto was caught stealing to end the inning, and Moscoso retired the next six men he faced before yielding a fifth-inning leadoff double to Toshiaki Imae. Katsuya Kakunaka’s sac bunt moved Imae to third, and he trotted home on Nemoto’s ground single up the middle to tie it 1-1.
Moscoso gave up three hits and one run in six strong innings, while Ishikawa struck out seven and allowed one run and five hits, also in six innings.
“Today I threw too many pitches in the strike zone, but from the middle innings I was able to go for broke and get my arm action moving. Had I been pitching like that from the start, the game would’ve developed differently,” Ishikawa said.
The Marines had a chance in the seventh, when Imae reached on an error. Yokohama second baseman Ishikawa made a fine diving play to stop a groundball up the middle but threw over the head of first baseman Blanco.
Lefty reliever Masanori Hayashi issued a one-out walk before Yuki Kuniyoshi (1-0) came in and struck out the next two batters to end the Lotte threat. The Marines were limited to three hits.
Lions 5, Dragons 1
At Seibu Dome, Takayuki Kishi (6-2) threw one-run ball over seven innings, Ernesto Mejia hit a two-run homer and Seibu routed Chunichi to win three straight for the first time this season.
Yudai Kawai (1-1) was tagged for the loss.
Eagles 3, Carp 0
At Sendai’s Kobo Stadium, Andruw Jones delivered a tiebreaking three-run homer in the ninth inning off Katsuhiro Nagakawa (1-3) for Tohoku Rakuten’s walk-off victory over Hiroshima.
The CL-leading Carp suffered their first walk-off defeat of the season.
Fighters 3, Tigers 1
At Sapporo Dome, Juan Miranda hit a sayonara two-run homer with two outs off Yuya Ando (2-2) in the ninth inning, lifting Hokkaido Nippon Ham past Hanshin, which lost its third in a row.
Lefty Atsushi Nomi held the Fighters to one run over eight innings but lacked run support.
Swallows 11, Hawks 4
At Yafuoku Dome, Wladimir Balentien homered twice as Tokyo Yakult crushed Fukuoka Softbank in an 18-hit onslaught in support of Chris Narveson (2-4), who pitched three-run ball in an 11-strikeout effort over seven innings.
Kenichi Nakata (5-3) was hammered for 10 runs in 1-2/3 innings and took the loss.
Giants at Buffaloes (late)