TOKOROZAWA, SAITAMA PREFECTURE – 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.