The Yokohama BayStars got the performances they needed at the plate and on the mound to beat the Yomiuri Giants.
They just didn’t get them early enough.
Yomiuri’s C.C. Mercedes pitched into the seventh, Yasuhiro Yamamoto drove in a pair of runs and Yomiuri stamped out a ninth-inning rally to beat the reeling BayStars 5-4 in front of a crowd of 43,766 on Saturday afternoon at Tokyo Dome.
The Kyojin got their Golden Week slate of 10 games in 10 days off to a good start with their sixth win in seven games.
“We’ll take it one game at a time,” Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said. “We’re going to play 10 straight days, so I want to feel good while doing it.”
The BayStars, meanwhile, would love to have something to feel good about. The club is currently on a nine-game losing streak, its longest since 2015.
Yokohama made it interesting late. Trailing 5-0 after four innings, the BayStars got a home run from Neftali Soto in the sixth, an RBI double by Yamato Maeda in the seventh and a two-out, two-run single from Yoshitomo Tsutsugo in the ninth.
“It was becoming exciting at the end of the game,” BayStars manager Alex Ramirez said. “We never give up and we came back at the end and we just came up short, but that’s part of the game.”
Giants reliever Ryoma Nogami closed the door after Tsutsugo’s hit, retiring Toshiro Miyazaki to end the game and record his first save in three years.
Falling behind early has become a familiar sight for BayStars fans. The team has been outscored 30-3 in the first four innings during the losing streak. The BayStars have only been outscored 19-17 from the fifth inning on during that span. They’ve allowed their opponents to score first in eight of the nine games.
It was same story against Yomiuri on Saturday. Yokohama held the Giants hitless after the fourth, allowing only a walk and a hit batter, while scoring four runs themselves.
“We hit the last couple of innings, but we were already losing 5-0,” Ramirez said. “In the sixth, that’s when we scored, at that point it was a little bit too late. We gotta get going together early in the game. Once again, we just couldn’t put it together.”
Mercedes had a lot to do with that. The Yomiuri starter held the BayStars at bay with a solid afternoon on the mound, improving to 3-1 this season.
“I’m happy I could help guide the team to the victory,” Mercedes said.
Mercedes allowed two runs on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out six and walked one.
“I think we had good preparation, but it didn’t work out,” Ramirez said. “That’s part of the game.”
Yamamoto connected on RBI singles in his first two trips to the plate and finished 2-for-3 with a walk. Yamamoto has at least one hit in his last three games and in five of his past seven.
“I’ve been focusing on going after the first pitch, and that might be a factor in my good results,” he said.
Takumi Oshiro also drove in a run during the fourth for the Kyojin, who scored two more runs on an error by Maeda at shortstop in the same inning.
Shoichi Ino took the loss for Yokohama, allowing five runs — three earned — in 3 2/3 innings. Ino (2-2) struck out three and walked two.
Miyazaki a former batting champion, continued to struggle at the plate, with his average dropping to .183 after going 0-for-5 with two strikeouts. Ramirez hasn’t decided if a lineup change is in order, but with the team mired in a slump, everything is on the table.
“That’s something that I have to think about,” Ramirez said. “Because Miyazaki has been one of the best Central League hitters for the last two years. He’s never been in this kind of a struggle. Right now, he’s really struggling. Hitters, when they struggle, they start taking pitches around the middle and they start swinging at balls. That’s the sign that we can see.
“Definitely, I have to consider doing something with him for the best of the team.”
Dragons end slide
Dayan Viciedo’s three-run homer in the fourth overturned the lead and the Chunichi Dragons ended a three-game losing streak with a 5-4 win over the Hanshin Tigers on Saturday in the Central League.
Carp 2, Swallows 0
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Hiroshima rookie Hiroki Tokoda (4-1) worked seven innings to outduel Tokyo Yakult’s Yasuhiro Ogawa (0-3).
The Carp have won eight straight.
Marines 6, Eagles 5
At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park, Seiya Inoue drove in a clutch ninth-inning run to help Chiba Lotte snap a three-game losing streak by beating Tohoku Rakuten.
With extra innings looming, Inoue smacked a tiebreaking RBI single with two outs after Eagles closer Yuki Matsui (0-1) issued a walk to leadoff man Takashi Ogino, who scored Lotte’s first and final runs of the game.
Inoue drove in two runs, as did Brandon Laird, who opened the scoring with a two-run double off Rakuten starter Manabu Mima in the first.
Ikuhiro Kiyota led off Lotte’s second with a solo blast, and the Marines tacked on two more runs on RBI singles from Shogo Nakamura and Inoue to make it 5-0.
Marines right-hander Mike Bolsinger gave up home runs to Eigoro Mogi, Jabari Blash and Hideto Asamura. The pitcher was pulled with two outs in the fifth after allowing Ginji Akaminai’s game-tying RBI double.
Yuki Karakawa (1-1) got the win for working a scoreless eighth. Naoya Masuda gave up a hit and a walk in the ninth but stranded the runners for his fifth save.
Rakuten suffered three straight losses for the first time this season and dropped to second place half a game behind the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks.
Lions 11, Buffaloes 7
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Hotaka Yamakawa’s RBI single broke a seventh-inning tie as Seibu topped Orix.
Hawks 5, Fighters 1
At Sapporo Dome, Kodai Senga (2-0) fanned 11 over seven innings and held the home team to a run in Fukuoka SoftBank’s victory over Hokkaido Nippon Ham.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5