Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Fabio Castillo pitches Lions past Hawks to win NPB debut


Fabio Castillo pitched into the seventh inning to earn the win in his Nippon Professional Baseball debut as the Seibu Lions beat Pacific League champion Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks 2-1 on Wednesday.

The Lions have won all five of their games this season. They started off their 2018 campaign by sweeping the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters in a three-game series and defeated the Hawks 7-4 on Tuesday.

Before 19,986 at Saitama Prefecture’s Metlife Dome, just across the border from Tokyo, Castillo did not allow a runner until the sixth inning. He gave up one run, while allowing four hits and two walks, and striking out five in 6⅔ innings.

“I feel great, I tried to do my best here. In the first couple innings, I tried to get strikeouts and be consistent,” said the 29-year-old from the Dominican Republic, who played with the Los Angels Dodgers in the majors before joining the Lions over the winter.

“(The fans) are really loud. I want to know how they get so much energy,” he said. “Starting from today, I’ll just be ready for my next game.”

Lions catcher Tomoya Mori went 3-for-4 and drove in both Seibu runs. With two runners on base, he hit an RBI single to center off Rick van den Hurk (0-1) in the bottom of the first. In his next at-bat, he led off the fourth with a solo home run to right.

“I didn’t hit yesterday, so I wanted to contribute to the team. I knew that the ball was a bit high, but I’m glad I got the hit,” Mori said. “(Castillo) had good pitching, so I told him during the game that he doesn’t have to change anything.”

Castillo was perfect until Seiji Uebayashi’s one-out single in the sixth. However, Castillo struggled in the seventh. A leadoff walk to Yuki Yanagita and a Seiichi Uchikawa single put runners on the corners and Alfredo Despaigne’s sacrifice fly made it a one-run game. After a single and an out, Castillo was pulled in favor of lefty Shogo Noda, who got out of the inning with a strikeout.

Shota Takekuma loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth but got Uchikawa to fly out to preserve the lead. Closer Tatsushi Masuda worked a 1-2-3 ninth to record his third save.

Fighters 5, Eagles 2

At Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, Kensuke Kondo’s ninth-inning, two-run double broke a 2-2 tie as Hokkaido Nippon Ham defeated Tohoku Rakuten for the second straight day.

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