Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Rookie Lion Wataru Matsumoto beats Buffaloes in pro debut

Kyodo

Wataru Matsumoto worked five innings to win his pro debut for the Saitama Seibu Lions in a 9-3 Pacific League victory over the Orix Buffaloes on Sunday.

The 22-year-old Matsumoto, the Lions’ first pick in last autumn’s draft, allowed two runs on four hits and two walks, while striking out one at Kyocera Dome.

The Lions opened the scoring with some tenacious batting against first-year right-hander Tyler Eppler (0-2), who gave up three runs over 3⅔ innings. Seibu catcher Tomoya Mori went 3-for-5 with a double and a seventh-inning grand slam to put the game away.

“Having received this opportunity, I was keen just to pitch for all I was worth from the get-go,” Matsumoto said. “Getting the early lead allowed me to just focus on my pitching.”

Matsumoto (1-0) only faced two tough spots, pitching out of a two-on, one-out jam in the second and allowing just two runs in the fifth, when he surrendered three hits and a walk.

“I was struggling a bit toward the end of my outing, but I pulled through by just focusing on throwing it to Mori’s mitt,” Matsumoto said. “My only thought was to have good arm action and execute my pitches.”

Lions leadoff man Shogo Akiyama, who will likely seek a major league job next season as a free agent, went 4-for-4 with a walk and scored two runs.

Hawks 4, Fighters 2

At Kagoshima Stadium, home runs from Yurisbel Gracial, Keizo Kawashima and Alfredo Despaigne lifted the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks to a 4-2 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters in a game called on account of rain after five innings.

Eagles 10, Marines 5

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Hideto Asamura and Zelous Wheeler each homered for the second straight day, when their back-to-back, seventh-inning solo shots broke a 5-5 tie as the Tohoku Rakuten Eagles beat the Chiba Lotte Marines 10-5. The homers came off lefty reliever Takahiro Matsunaga (1-2), who had not allowed a run since April 14.

CENTRAL LEAGUE

Carp 5, Tigers 1

At Nishinomiya’s Koshien Stadium, Ryosuke Kikuchi went 4-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs, while Makoto Aduwa (2-1) threw seven shutout innings as the Hiroshima Carp beat the Hanshin Tigers for their seventh straight victory.

Dragons 5, Giants 4

At Nagoya Dome, Dayan Viciedo’s two-run, fifth-inning single brought the Chunichi Dragons from behind in a win over the Yomiuri Giants. Dragons closer Hiroshi Suzuki nailed down his league-leading 13th save thanks to a game-ending double play after he allowed a home run and two singles in the ninth.

BayStars 7, Swallows 0

At Jingu Stadium in Tokyo, Yokohama BayStars lefty Haruhiro Hamaguchi (2-1) escaped jams in the first and ninth innings, retiring 22 straight in between, in a two-hit shutout of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows that completed a three-game series sweep.