FUKUOKA – Orix rookie Daiki Tajima impressed in his pro debut as he pitched the Buffaloes to an 8-4 win over the reigning Pacific League champion Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks on Saturday.
Before 39,530 at Yafuoku Dome, the Buffaloes’ top draft pick last autumn shook off the jitters to go five innings, allowing a run on one hit and three walks. The 21-year-old right-hander struck out four.
After Tajima surrendered a first-inning homer to Keizo Kawashima, the rookie began throwing his breaking balls for strikes and located his fastball to keep the Hawks’ powerful lineup in check.
“I’m so happy and now that it’s over, so relieved,” said Tajima, who benefited from homers by teammates Stefen Romero and Chris Marero. “The skipper told me, ‘Good job,’ so now I’m keen to do well in my next start.
“I was so nervous at the start and couldn’t shake the butterflies. But as the innings progressed, I was able to pitch my way. My focus was on getting a win for the team, and that allowed me to just execute my pitches.”
Veteran Hawks right-hander Shota Takeda, however, struggled with his trademark slider and curve, and the Buffaloes punished him. The visitors tied it on two fat pitches in the third. Rookie center fielder Yuma Mune doubled and scored on a bloop single by slugger Masataka Yoshida.
Yoshida singled to open Orix’s three-run sixth. He scored on Romero’s homer. Eiichi Koyano, who reached three times, then walked and scored after singles by Marero and Takahiro Okada.
The Buffaloes blew the game wide open in the seventh, when Mune opened with another double and Koyano walked to load the bases. Marero then crushed what looked like a 1-0 batting-practice fastball from lefty Livan Moinelo.
Trailing 8-2 in the ninth, Buffaloes reliever Hirotoshi Masui looked unconvincing in his Orix debut.
Having lost closer Yoshihisa Hirano to the Arizona Diamondbacks through free agency, the Buffaloes signed Masui away from the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters. The right-hander allowed two runs on three hits before getting out of the inning.
Marines 6, Eagles 2
At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Chiba Lotte’s Mike Bolsinger allowed a run in 6-2/3 innings in his Japan debut and Seiya Inoue homered twice in a win over Tohoku Rakuten as former Chicago White Sox player Tadahito Iguchi earned his first victory as manager.
Lions 7, Fighters 2
At Sapporo Dome, Shinsaburo Tawata threw six scoreless innings to outduel Nick Martinez, while Shogo Akiyama scored twice and drove in two to pace Seibu past Hokkaido Nippon Ham for the second day in a row.CENTRAL LEAGUE
Swallows 5, BayStars 3
At Yokohama Stadium, former big leaguer Norichika Aoki and young shortstop Taishi Hirooka each drove in two runs as last year’s last-place team, Tokyo Yakult, beat Yokohama for the second straight day.
Carp 6, Dragons 2
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, lefty Kris Johnson allowed a run in seven innings and drove in two runs to lead defending league champion Hiroshima to its second win of the season over Chunichi.
Giants 8, Tigers 4
At Tokyo Dome, Kazuma Okamoto reached base five times, homered, scored twice and drove in five runs and former Boston Red Sox closer Koji Uehara threw a 1-2-3 eighth as Yomiuri rallied to beat Hanshin.
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