Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Giants bats support returning ace Tomoyuki Sugano in big win over Marines

by Jason Coskrey

Staff Writer

Yomiuri Giants fans used their cheers to welcome ace pitcher Tomoyuki Sugano back to the diamond.

The Giants players did it with their bats.

Yoshiyuki Kamei, Akihiro Wakabayashi and Shinnosuke Abe all homered and Sugano made a winning return as the Kyojin beat the Chiba Lotte Marines 11-3 in front of a crowd of 44,959 on Sunday afternoon at Tokyo Dome.

“I wasn’t really at my best today, but I did what I could,” Sugano said.

The Giants gave their ace plenty of run support in his return, punishing the Lotte pitchers for 11 runs and 14 hits.

Abe’s homer was a three-run blast while Kamei and Wakabayashi hit solo shots. Daikan Yoh drove in a run with a triple and Takumi Oshiro, who had three hits, Hayato Sakamoto and Yoshihiro Maru each hit RBI doubles. Wakabayashi also recorded an RBI on a groundout and Kamei had an RBI single.

The Yomiuri hitters had a day after a slow start.

“I was surprised to see three straight strikeouts,” Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said, referring Lotte starter Ayumu Ishikawa striking out the side in the first inning. “But they did well in the end. It’s been a while since we looked like that.”

It’d also been a while since the Giants had seen Sugano.

The right-hander had been sidelined after experiencing discomfort in his hip last month and hadn’t pitched since May 15.

“I’m relieved,” Sugano (6-3) said of getting back on the mound. “It wasn’t just me, but I had a lot people supporting me.”

He showed a little rust early, giving up a leadoff double, walking a batter and hitting another in the top of the first. Sugano still managed to keep the Marines off the board, striking out Tsuyoshi Sugano with two outs and the bases loaded to end the inning.

He didn’t allow another hit until giving up a single to Takashi Ogino with one out in the fifth. Sugano then allowed a homer against the next batter, Daichi Suzuki. He still got the win, allowing two runs on three hits over six innings. He struck out seven and walked three.

“He threw well and he got the win,” Hara said.

Ishikawa (3-3) had a rough outing on the mound, giving up six runs in his four innings of work. Ishikawa struck out four and allowed nine hits. The Lotte lefty had won his past three decisions.

Suzuki’s two-run homer off Sugano in the fifth was his second home run in as many days and got Lotte on the scoreboard. The Marines’ other run came off the bat of Shogo Nakamura, who connected on an RBI double in the eighth.

The Giants were part of a big day for Central League clubs during ongoing interleague competition. One day after CL clubs lost five of the six games played, the league bounced back with a 5-1 record against the Pacific League on Sunday.

The Pa League still holds the overall edge with a 20-15 mark against CL teams.

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