Usually when the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters face another Pacific League team at Tokyo Dome, they’re the home team.
This time, the Fighters were cast in the unfamiliar role of visitors at the Big Egg. Not that it stopped them from making themselves right at home.
Yushi Shimizu, Oswaldo Arcia and Sho Nakata homered and a bullpen pressed into service on short notice held back the Seibu Lions lineup in Nippon Ham’s 7-2 victory on Tuesday night.
With his mother in the stands, Shimizu connected on a two-run homer off Seibu starter Ken Togame in the sixth inning that turned a 3-1 lead into a more comfortable 5-1 advantage.
“I wanted to put more runs on boards, so I tried to hit in a good spot,” Shimizu said. “I’m really happy I could hit a home run in front of my mother, who came to cheer for me.”
The home run was the Nippon Ham catcher’s fourth of the season. Nakata also connected on his fourth of the year, salvaging a 1-for-5 night, which included three strikeouts, with a solo shot in the seventh that gave his team a 6-1 cushion.
“It’s a good feeling,” Nakata said. “The Seibu lineup can really get going once they flip the switch, so it’s good to have any kind of lead. I’m glad we were able to get another run.”
Arcia’s fourth-inning solo home run was his first of the season and first in Japan.
The Fighters were forced to turn to the bullpen with one out in the third after starter Naoyuki Uwasawa was thrown out for throwing a dangerous pitch. Uwasawa hit Sosuke Genda with a 144-kph fastball that struck the Seibu shortstop in the front of the helmet. Genda returned to the clubhouse briefly but remained in the game.
Relievers Taisho Tamai, Toru Murata, Naoki Miyanishi, Takahiro Nishimura, Michael Tonkin and Toyuki Tanaka combined to hold Seibu to two runs the rest of the way. Murata, who threw 2 2/3 innings of relief, was credited with the win.
Nippon Ham has won three out the four games it’s played at Tokyo Dome this season, as many as the Yomiuri Giants, the building’s regular tenants, have in nine games.
The Lions were hosting their first-ever NPB game at Tokyo Dome. The team posed for a photo prior to the game and brought out singer Shigeru Matsuzaki, the ambassador for their 40th anniversary (of the franchise’s move to Saitama) celebrations this season, to sing the national anthem before the game and the Lions team song after the contest.
The club wore the home version of its 2004-2008 uniforms, white with blue stripes around the shoulders and down the legs and “Lions” across the front in big, blue letters, and gave them out to the Seibu fans in attendance to create a whiteout in the stands.
Lions catcher Tomoya Mori, who finished with a game-high three hits, drove in a run for Seibu in the fifth and designated hitter Takumi Kuriyama added an RBI single in the eighth.
Togame allowed five runs, four earned in 5 2/3 innings to fall to 1-2 in three starts.
The team will move to Seibu’s MetLife Dome to resume the series on Wednesday night. Hirotoshi Takanashi (0-1) will take the mound for the Fighters, with Fabio Castillo (1-1) pitching for the Lions.
Matsuda, Yanagita power Hawks
Nobuhiro Matsuda and Yuki Yanagita each hit a two-run homer off tough Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles right-hander Takayuki Kishi (1-1) and Yuito Mori notched his first save of the season as the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks defeated the visitors 5-3 in the Pacific League on Tuesday night.
Marines 5, Buffaloes 3
At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Ayumu Ishikawa (3-0) allowed three runs — two earned — on nine hits over the distance, Orix mistakes contributed to a three-run Chiba otte fifth inning and the Marines broke a 3-3, seventh-inning tie on Yudai Fujioka’s two-run home run.
Giants 3, BayStars 2
At Niigata’s Hard Off Eco Stadium, Yomiuri right-hander Shun Yamaguchi threw a five-hitter and snapped his former team’s eight-game win streak by beating Yokohama.
Yamaguchi (2-0), who struck out a career-high 14 and issued three walks, allowed the host BayStars to overcome a 1-0, third-inning deficit, but allowed just one batter to reach over the final 6-1/3 innings.
“I’m relieved to have won,” Yamaguchi said. “I owe a debt to the position players for scoring and for establishing a good rhythm in the game. Pitching coach (Masaki) Saito said, ‘I want you to finish the job in the ninth,’ and I am glad I was able to do that.”
The Giants took the lead against 21-year-old right-hander Satoshi Iizuka on Alex Guerrero’s second home run of the season, a second-inning solo shot.
But Yokohama rallied after two were out in the bottom of the inning. Yamato Maeda singled, Yoshitomo Tsutsugo walked and the BayStars took the lead on RBI singles by Jose Lopez and Toshiro Miyazaki.
Iizuka left after allowing his fifth hit of the game, a two-out Kazuma Okamoto single in the sixth. Lefty Edwin Escobar (0-1) entered to pitch to left-handed-hitting veteran Yoshiyuki Kamei, who hit his second homer of the season.
“It was lucky for me that they changed pitchers,” said Kamei, who had made outs in his first two at-bats against Iizuka.
Carp 7, Swallows 4
At Hiroshima’s Kure Stadium, Hiroshima leadoff man Kosuke Tanaka drove in three runs and his second RBI single broke a 2-2, fourth-inning tie in a win over Tokyo Yakult.
The Carp’s third-straight win lifted them into first place in the Central League.
Tigers at Dragons — ppd.
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