Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Carp rookie Sho Yamaguchi shines in first start as Swallows drop 14th straight

Hiroshima hurler holds Yakult to one hit in seven innings

Kyodo

Rookie Sho Yamaguchi allowed one hit over seven scoreless innings in his starting debut on Thursday in the Hiroshima Carp’s 13-0 victory over the Tokyo Yakult Swallows.

The Swallows were handed their 14th straight loss.

At Jingu Stadium, Yamaguchi located his fastball and slider early on, establishing a good rhythm. Once he started mixing in his curve and splitter and then busting in with fastballs, the Yakult hitters looked fairly uncomfortable against the right-hander.

“Before the game, coach (Shinji) Sasaoka told me to just focus on one batter at a time. I want to do my best so I can do just that next time,” said Yamaguchi, the Carp’s second-round draft pick in 2017.

The Swallows’ first hit came with two outs in the seventh inning, when Yamaguchi broke Munetaka Murakami’s bat, with the teenage slugger getting enough energy on it to loft the ball over shortstop for a single.

Yamaguchi followed by striking out Wladimir Balentien before leaving the game.

“If I thought about not allowing a hit, my game would fall apart,” Yamaguchi said. “So to keep that from happening I didn’t think about it.”

Hiroshima opened the scoring in the first against Yasuhiro Ogawa (1-7) on Xavier Batista’s 13th home run, a two-out solo shot. Reserve catcher Yoshitaka Isomura, making a rare start, doubled home two more runs in the inning.

Carp shortstop Kosuke Tanaka, who has struggled at the plate this year, singled in a run in the three-run fifth and belted a three-run homer in the sixth.

Batista added a two-run home run in the ninth.

BayStars 8, Dragons 1

At Nagoya Dome, Jose Lopez belted a first-inning grand slam, and lefty Katsuki Azuma (3-1) struck out 10 in a complete-game effort as Yokohama trounced Chunichi.

Tigers 5, Giants 2

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Fighters 8, Marines 0

Hawks 5, Buffaloes 4