Tomoyuki Sugano lost his bid for the first shutout of Japan’s new imperial era but still managed to go the distance as the Yomiuri Giants beat the Chunichi Dragons 5-1 in the Central League on Wednesday afternoon.
On the first day of action in Japan’s Reiwa Era, Sugano (4-2) struck out 10 batters, reaching 1,002 for his career, and walked one. He allowed four of his seven hits in the ninth inning, when the Dragons scored their only run.
“I wanted a shutout, although it’s a win just the same. I’ll do my best next time,” Sugano told a sell-out crowd of 46,345 at Tokyo Dome. “I was told (my strikeout total before the game), and I was thinking about it every inning trying to get it over as soon as possible.”
The Giants opened the scoring in the first after Daisuke Yamai (2-2) loaded the bases on two singles and a hit batsman — as Mexican Christian Villaneuva became the era’s first player to be hit by a pitch.
Singles by Yoshiyuki Kamei and Daikan Yoh made it 2-0. Another run scored on a groundout, and Kamei scored on a delayed double steal.
The Giants made it 5-0 in the second when captain Hayato Sakamoto hit the first homer of the new era.
BayStars 5, Swallows 1
In Yokohama, the BayStars blew open a rookie pitcher’s duel with a four-run sixth, while Shinichi Onuki (2-1) allowed a run over 6⅓ innings in a win over lefty Keiji Takahashi (0-1) and Tokyo Yakult.
Tigers 6, Carp 2
At Hyogo Prefecture’s Koshien Stadium, rookie Koji Chikamoto’s two-run, fifth-inning single helped Hanshin rally for a win over the defending league champions.
Marines 4, Buffaloes 0
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Hideaki Wakui (2-1) threw seven scoreless innings and Daichi Suzuki drove in three runs as ChibaLotte beat Orix.
Tsubasa Sakakibara (1-2) allowed a pair of runs — one earned — over seven innings for the Buffaloes.
Fighters 7, Lions 2
At Tokorozawa’s MetLife Dome, Hokkaido Nippon Ham right-hander Mizuki Hori pitched 2⅓ innings to lead a six-pitcher procession that shut down the powerful Seibu lineup.
Kensuke Kondo drove in a pair of runs for Nippon Ham in the win.
Eagles 9, Hawks 0
At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, SoftBank’s Shota Takeda (2-2) became the era’s first player ejected for hitting a batter in the head with a pitch during the second inning.
Zelous Wheeler, who he hit, later scored three runs and drove in two for Rakuten in the victory, which snapped a five-game losing streak. Wheeler finished 2-for-3 at the plate.