SENDAI – Takahiro Norimoto moved past Hall of Famer Hideo Nomo in the NPB record books on Thursday by striking out 10-plus batters in seven consecutive games.
The 26-year-old Norimoto (7-1) fanned 12 in eight innings for the Tohoku Rakuten Eagles in their 3-2 interleague win over the Yomiuri Giants before 25,040 at rainy Kobo Park Miyagi. The right-hander allowed six hits and a walk and finished his night with 129 pitches.
Although the Giants were able to put the bat on his fastball early on, Norimoto began throwing his changeup for effect and started getting swings and misses. He struck out his sixth batter to lead off the sixth, and whiffed his ninth with his 114th pitch of the evening. Norimoto wrapped up his evening by striking out the side in the eighth.
“Of course, I was aware that I needed just one more strikeout, but I also was conscious that they could come back, and more than anything, I wanted to win,” Norimoto said.
“We hadn’t won five straight this season and we’d never started interleague winning three straight games, so I really wanted this won.
Norimoto, who has led the Pacific League in strikeouts in each of the past three seasons, didn’t fan his first batter until Yomiuri had loaded the bases after two were down in the second inning. He then struck out Seiji Kobayashi to end the threat.
Four batters and four strikeouts later, Shinnosuke Abe grounded a high pitch up the middle for a single and Shuichi Murata teed off on a high, hanging slider and hit it well back into the left field stands for his second home run of the season.
Rookie Giants lefty Shun Ikeda, making his first start after 19 relief appearances, worked aggressively against the high-powered Eagles offense. The 24-year-old limited the hosts to four hits and two walks over five scoreless innings, while striking out six.
Right-hander Seiji Tahara, however, blew the lead on three pitches in the sixth. After a leadoff single by Zelous Wheeler, Japhet Amador unloaded on a fat first-pitch fastball that arrived low and in and launched it into the stands in left.
Sidearm southpaw Masahiko Morifuku (1-3), one of the Giants’ numerous offseason acquisitions, took over and promptly surrendered a single to Ginji Akaminai. A sacrifice and a booming triple by Takero Okajima put the Eagles in front for the first time.
Morifuku settled down and got through the seventh, and Scott Mathieson and Arquimedes Caminero prevented the Eagles from running away with it as they had in the first two games of their interleague series.
Lefty closer Yuki Matsui pitched out of a two-on, no-out jam in the ninth. Pinch runner Shinnosuke Shigenobu was picked off second for the first out and the last two Giants batters were retired easily as Yomiuri lost its seventh straight.
Fighters 5, BayStars 3
At Sapporo Dome, Hokkaido Nippon Ham designated hitter Kensuke Kondo doubled in two runs and Sho Nakata hit a two-run homer in the third off Yokoham starter Shoichi Ino (2-4) as the Fighters led for good.
Lions 4, Carp 2
At Tokorozawa’s MetLife Dome, Seibu snapped its four-game losing skid and halted Hiroshima’s seven-game winning streak with a comeback victory.
Sosuke Genda singled in the go-ahead run and Hideto Asamura followed with another RBI single in the fifth off Akitake Okada (5-2), who suffered a complete-game defeat.
Dragons 5, Hawks 1
At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, Chunichi’s Alex Guerrero homered for the fourth straight game, hitting a solo shot in the fourth and an RBI single in the sixth off Fukuoka SoftBank starter and former Dragon Kenichi Nakata (4-5).
Guerrero slugged his 14th homer in the eighth off former big leaguer Ryota Igarashi.
Buffaloes 3, Swallows 2
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Tokyo Yakult starter Yoshinori Sato (1-2) issued three straight walks to present Orix with the game-tying run before reliever Ryo Hirai walked in another run in the sixth.
Brandon Dickson (5-3) allowed two runs on four hits over seven innings as the Buffaloes won their fourth straight.
Marines 8, Tigers 1
At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Daichi Suzuki and Shunichi Nemoto hit back-to-back, first-inning RBI doubles as Chiba Lotte rallied to beat Hanshin.
Marines starter Yuki Karakawa (2-6) worked seven innings of one-run ball.