NISHINOMIYA, HYOGO PREF. – Rookie Kairi Shimada’s 10th-inning, two-out single lifted the Hanshin Tigers to a 4-3 walk-off win over the Yokohama BayStars on Saturday.
With the loss, the BayStars, currently in fourth place in the Central League standings, fell 1½ games behind the third-place Yomiuri Giants in their campaign to secure the final spot in the Climax Series for the third-straight year. Should the Giants win their remaining game or the BayStars lose any of their three remaining games, the Giants will grab the league’s final playoff spot.
The Tigers loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the 10th at Koshien Stadium, before Shimada drove in the run. It was Shimada’s first career RBI.
Ryutaro Umeno led off the inning with a single against right-hander Edison Barrios (2-5) and advanced to second before Barrios allowed another single to Yuto Morikoshi. With two outs and first base open, the BayStars intentionally walked leadoff hitter Kento Itohara.
Yokohama left-hander Katsuki Azuma, a top candidate for this season’s CL Rookie of the Year Award, struggled and gave up three early runs to the Tigers. But Neftali Soto tied the game with a seventh-inning, three-run home run. His 39th homer tied him with Hiroshima’s Yoshihiro Maru for the CL lead.
Azuma surrendered a run on back-to-back doubles to Umeno and Naomasa Yokawa in the second inning.
In the third, Shimada reached on a one-out, two-base throwing error and scored on a Kosuke Fukudome single. Shimada then tripled in the fifth and came home on another Fukudome single.
Eagles 8, Marines 1
At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park, Zelous Wheeler homered twice and drove in four runs in Tohoku Rakuten’s win over Chiba Lotte.
Eagles starter Takahiro Norimoto (9-11), who lasted seven innings, retired the last 16 batters he faced after allowing a second-inning run.
Hawks 8, Lions 3
At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, second-place Fukuoka SoftBank ended league champion Seibu’s regular season on a sour note, although Lions shortstop Sosuke Genda became the first shortstop in either league to play every inning of his team’s games for his first two seasons.
Genda, who already broke Japan’s 70-year-old record for shortstop assists in a season, on Saturday broke the 55-year-old record for double plays with his 112th.