NAGOYA – Sosuke Genda drove in a trio of Seibu Lions teammates to back some gutsy pitching as Samurai Japan wrapped up the Japan All-Star Series with a 4-1 win over the MLB All-Stars on Thursday.
Japan’s fifth win of the six-game series was the most for a Japanese team in 12 editions of the All-Star competition dating back to 1986, and the host nation’s third series win. Japan is now 2-0 since the series became a Japan national team event in 2014.
Pitching in Nagoya Dome, his home park with the Chunichi Dragons, Shotaro Kasahara (1-0) worked 4-2/3 innings before he reached the tournament’s 80-pitch limit. He allowed four hits and two walks but no runs to earn the win.
“(Catcher Tomoya) Mori called for a lot of fastballs, and from that we were able to set up my changeup and breaking pitches,” the 23-year-old Kasahara said. “I think the experience I’ve gained here is something I can make use of starting from next season.”
MLB starter Brian Johnson (0-1) of the Boston Red Sox, stranded a pair of runners in a scoreless first, but couldn’t get an out in the second. Hotaka Yamakawa, whose two-run double pulled Japan even in the eighth inning of Wednesday’s victory, drew a leadoff walk. Mori and left fielder Shuta Tonosaki singled to load the bases before Genda tripled in his club teammates with a drive into the right-field corner.
“We were on a roll, and I was able to ride that momentum,” Genda said.
Ryosuke Kikuchi of the Hiroshima Carp then brought home Genda with a one-out sacrifice fly off new pitcher Erasmo Ramirez.
Kasahara retired the first six batters he faced. The lefty pitched out of two-on, no-out jams in the third and fourth and left with two outs in the fifth after once more putting two on with no outs. Hanshin Tigers lefty Yuta Iwasada closed out the fifth with a strikeout to keep the MLB side off the board.
“I’m glad I could pitch tenaciously when I got in trouble,” Kasahara said. “I believe my fastball was not fast enough and lacked quality against major league hitters.
“I want to work on that pitch and improve it.”
Iwasada worked 2-1/3 scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out three to keep it a 4-0 game through seven innings. Dragons pitcher Yu Sato, however, lost Japan’s bid for a shutout in the eighth on a leadoff home run by National League Rookie of the Year Ronald Acuna Jr.
Sato then loaded the bases with one out, but pitched out of trouble. The right-hander got Chris Taylor of the Los Angeles Dodgers to go down swinging on a 3-2 slider out of the zone for his third strikeout of the inning.
Yokohama BayStars closer Yasuaki Yamasaki closed out the game and the series by striking out Acuna Jr. in a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his second save.
Samurai Japan earned ¥50 million ($353,000) in prize money, ¥40 million for the series victory and ¥2 million for each game won.
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