YOKOHAMA – Puerto Rico’s Neftali Soto hit a home run in his Nippon Professional Baseball debut as the Yokohama BayStars defeated the Yomiuri Giants 12-8 on Sunday.
In front of 28,962 at windy Yokohama Stadium, Soto went 2-for-5 with a first-inning RBI double and a third-inning solo homer. He played briefly in the majors with the Cincinnati Reds but joined the BayStars in November after two seasons in Triple-A for the Nationals organization.
“It was my first game on the top team and I really wanted to hit, so I’m glad I did so in my first at-bat,” the 29-year-old Soto said. “I was just thinking about getting a hit in all of my at-bats.”
The Yokohama hitters got the better of right-hander Ryoma Nogami (3-2), scoring four runs in the first inning.
Leadoff man Masayuki Kuwahara opened with a single and scored on Soto’s double. Yoshitomo Tsutsugo singled in another run, and Jose Lopez blasted a shot into the left field stands, ruled a foul on review. The Venezuelan, however, drove the next pitch out to center for his ninth home run this season.
“The first was called a foul, so I’m glad that I was able to hit a home run on my second try,” Lopez said. “It’s important to take an early lead, especially against the Giants.”
Nogami retired the next six batters, but struggled again in the third, when Soto homered to open the inning. He allowed the next two batters to reach, and was charged with seven runs on seven hits in two-plus innings.
Right-hander Shimpei Shinohara took the mound and surrendered three straight hits before he put the lid on the five-run frame.
Alex Guerrero blasted two homers for the Giants, and Shinnosuke Abe hit his first homer of the season, a seventh-inning solo shot that reduced the deficit to 10-5.
Yomiuri added two more runs in the seventh and Hayato Sakamoto hit a ninth-inning solo shot, but the BayStars had already put the game out of reach with two more runs in the sixth. The two teams combined for 29 hits.
Yokohama rookie Masaya Kyoyama (4-1) picked up the win after allowing five runs on eight hits and a walk, while striking out two over 5⅓ innings. BayStars shortstop Yamato Maeda doubled twice and tripled and drove in four runs.
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Swallows 4, Carp 3 (11)
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Lions 11, Eagles 0
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Buffaloes 5, Hawks 2
At Yafuoku Dome, Takahiro Okada hit a tie-breaking, seventh-inning solo shot in Orix’s win over Fukuoka SoftBank. SoftBank’s Seiichi Uchikawa was hitless in his three at-bats and remains one short of Japan’s iconic 2,000-hit milestone.
Fighters 6, Marines 1
At Sapporo Dome, left-hander Takayuki Kato allowed a run on five hits and three walks, while striking out three in 6⅔ innings to help Hokkaido Nippon Ham defeat Chiba Lotte for the second straight day. NPB debutant Edgar Olmos (0-1) allowed four runs, two earned, over five innings.
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