With Yomiuri putting a new emphasis on doing more running and working opposing pitchers into deeper counts to get away from the wait around for the three run homer approach of past years, they are more balanced offensively and that was exemplified Wednesday when seven players drove in at least one run in a 12-1 defenestration of Yokohama at Tokyo Dome. Norihito Kaneto started for the Giants and went eight innings of one run, six hit ball for his third straight win and the team's lefthanded starters have now taken each of their last ten decisions.
Takeharu Kato started for the Bay Stars and lasted only three innings of eight run, seven hit ball and walked four while striking out the same number to decline to 1-1.
Yomiuri rightfielder Yoshinobu Takahashi walked to begin the bottom of the first and continued to the plate when leftfielder Yoshitomo Tani doubled down the leftfield line. Third baseman Michihiro Ogasawara got an 86 mph fastball and blasted it 440 feet over the centerfield wall for a 4-0 lead.
While Kaneto was no hitting Yokohama over the first three innings, Yomiuri expanded its disparity with them in the last of the third when Kato walked both shortstop Tomohiro Nioka and catcher Shinnosuke Abe. Centerfielder Damon Hollins socked a Kato delivery into the leftfield stands for a three run homer. Second baseman Ryota Wakiya doubled to the wall in right and, one out later, Takahashi singled to center to usher Wakiya home to raise it to 8-0.
Kaneto's no hit baid was broken up by a two out single in the fourth, but it would be the Stars only knock through five.
In the sixth, though, an infield hit by Yokohama backup leftfielder Masaaki Koike and second baseman Toshihisa Nishi's single to left had Yokohama threatening with nobody out. However, a groundout, a popup and a strikeout cashiered the rally.
Following Kato's departure, Kazuya Takamiya spun two scoreless innings on a hit. But in the sixth, rookie Kentaro Takasaki was summoned form the bullpen and walked Takahashi, who was pinch run for by Takahiro Suzuki. Tani singled to left and was pinch run for by Shigeyuki Furuki. One out later, first baseman Seung-yeop Lee went yard halfway up the rightfield bleachers and it was 11-0. Nioka singled to right and was pinch run for by Makoto Kosaka. One out later, reserve centerfielder Kenji Yano laced a shot up the leftcenter alley and Kosaka sped around the bases to the plate to hike it to 12-0.
Yokohama rightfielder Seiichi Uchikawa cracked a solo homer with one out in the seventh to terminate the shutout possibility for Kaneto and first baseman Takahiro Saeki and catcher Ryoji Aikawa each singled to left. But a popup and a groundout put the kabosh on that and six of the next seven men would be banished without incident to wrap it up.
Of the 31 hitters Kaneto faced, 19 were retired on infield outs and three on strikeouts in completely suffocating the Bay Stars bats.
For Yomiuri, Lee was 1-5 and is at .276. Hollins was 2-3 and is at .313.
Chunichi rightfielder Kosuke Fukudome homered twice and drove in three runs to help the Dragons get past the Hiroshima Carp 5-1 at Nagoya Dome Wednesday. Yuichi Hisamoto started for Chunichi and went 4.1 innings of one run, two hit ball on 72 pitches in a no decision as he was pulled due to reaching his pitch count limit. So reliever Yuya Ishii picked up the win after twirling 1.2 shutout innings om a hit and a walk, his first of the year.
Takahiro Aoki started for the fish and finally had a bad outing, as he was roughed up for four runs on seven hits in 5.2 innings to fall to 0-4.
While Hisamoto was perfect over four, Chunichi pulled in front in the bottom of the fourth when Fukudome smoked a shot over the leftfield wall that got out in the blink of an eye for a 1-0 lead.
Hiroshima countered in the top of the fifth, as centerfielder Shigeru Morikasa singled to right and rightfielder Shigenobu Shima doubled to left to lend Morikasa enough time to circle the bases for the 1-1 tie. Afer catcher Yoshikazu Kura grounded out, Aoki was next, but Dragons boss Hiromitsu Ochiai pulled Hisamoto anyway and Ishii elicited a groundout and a strikeout to end the inning.
However, the Nagoya crew nosed ahead again in their ups, as third baseman Norihiro Nakamura torqued a slider on the inner half of the plate into the leftfield stands to make it 2-1.
The Carp put two on with one out in the sixth, but that was liquidated on a double play ball and the nine Hiroshima batsmen after that were dispensed with in order to ice it for the Dragons.
In the bottom of the sixth, second baseman Masahiro Araki singled to left and Fukudome creamed a delivery from Aoki into the rightfield seats to stretch it to 4-1. They eventually loaded the bases with two outs in the inning and that didn't turn into anything.
Two innings later, Chunichi centerfielder Byung-kyu Lee beat out an infield roller with two gone against Victory Marte and Nakamura singled to center. Shortstop Hirokazu Ibata doubled to left and Lee found paydirt for a 5-1 advantage. A walk packed the sacks, but further scoring was blocked on a strikeout.
Hiroshima has now dropped thier most recent four contests.
For Chunichi, first baseman Tyrone Woods was 1-4 and is at .284. Lee was 1-4 and is at .307. Both Franklyn Gracesqui, who still has yet to surrender an earned run, and Santiago Ramirez each prodiced a flawless frame, Ramirez shrinking his ERA to 1.98.
Hanshin starter Tsuyoshi Shimoyanagi assembled six strong innings of one run, three hit pitching and shortstop Takashi Toritani drove in two runs with a sixth inning triple that effectively put it away in a 7-2 victory over Yakult at Koshien Stadium. Shimoyanagi is now 2-2 while Swallows starter Kazuhisa Ishii, who went six innings of six run (three earned) ball on nine hits and 107 pitches is presently on a three decision loss string.
Hanshin centerfielder Norihiro Akahoshi singled to center with one out in the first and, one out later, leftfielder Tomoaki Kanemoto struckout, but the ball went to the backstop for a wild pitch and Kanemoto reached while Akahoshi ended up at third. Third baseman Makoto Imaoka singled to left for a 1-0 lead. Rightfielder Lin Wei-tzu doubled to right and Kanemoto came around to make it 2-0. Catcher Akihiro Yano struckout to bog things down.
Yakult first baseman Kazuhiro Hatakeyama took Shimoyanagi to the downs in left in the second to trim it ti 2-1.
But the Tigers retaliated in their turn with a single to center by second baseman Kentaro Sekimoto, who advanced to second on a sac bunt. Toritani beat out a dribbler and Sekimoto went to third. Akahoshi flied out to left and Sekimoto tagged up and hustled in to put it at 3-1.
The Swallows had two on and two out in the fourth, but that was interdicted on a flyout. They would generate only one more hit through eight.
Ishii supressed Hanshin on a hit from the third through the fifth. In the sixth, though, Imaoka singled to right and Lin singled to center. Yano laid a sacrifice bunt down. However, Ishii attempted to go to third with it and his peg pulled third baseman Yasushi Iihara off the bag and the sacks were packed. Sekimoto flew out to right and Imaoka tagged up and crossed. One out later, Toritani went gapping to rightcenter and Lin and Yano both turned on the afterburners for home on the three bagger to tear it open to 6-1. Akahoshi grounded out to second to strand Toritani.
Tigers first baseman Andy Sheets conked a pitch from Masato Hanada into the centerfield seats in the seventh and it became 7-1.
Shinobu Fukuhara made his second relief appearance beginning in the eighth and was perfect in that inning, but in the ninth, centerfielder Norichika Aoki singled to center and went to third on a single to center by leftfielder Alex Ramirez. Rightfielder Aaron Guiel grounded out to first and Aoki crossed to make it 7-2. A grounder to short and a strikeout put it to bed. Fukuhara was clocked at 91mph.
Fukuhara's wife Eiko had a baby Tuesday and Fukuhara hasn't been able to return home to see it.
Imaoka had his first four hit effort in two years to left his average to .322.
For Yakult, Ramirez was 1-4 and is at .342. Guiel was 1-3 with a walk and is at .180.
For Hanshin, Sheets was 1-4 and is at .272. Lin was 2-4 with two strikeouts and is at .371.
Chiang Chien-ming was demoted to the minors Wednesday and Satoshi Fukuda
and recently signed lefty Tetsuya Yamaguchi have been brought up. Fukuda
will make his first pro start on May 1st against Chunichi while Yamaguchi
will be used in middle relief. In Fukuda's most recent start in the Eastern
League, he had a no hitter going into the eighth before it was broken up
and he touched 95mph. Fukuda thus far has been a reliever at the top level.
In addition, Koji Uehara may be called up on the 28th and used as the closer for a limited time while Kiyoshi Toyoda will be sent down.
Miscellaneous Padres ace Jake Peavy struckout nine in a row Wednesday, one short of the MLB record originally set by Tom Seaver. The Japanese record is nine and it has been done twice, the last time being by Yutaka Enatsu in a 1971 all star game.
Boston righthander Daisuke Matsuzaka threw 84 pitches as a tuneup for his next start against the Yankees on the 27th.
His fellow Japanese, Hideki Okajima, was perfect in the eighth Wednesday against Baltimore in a 6-1 victory.
Chicago White Sox second baseman Tadahito Iguchi was 1-4 Wednesday in a 6-2 loss to Detroit.
Seattle centerfielder Ichiro Suzuki was 0-2 with two walks Wednesday against Oakland in a 2-0 victory. Catcher Kenji Johjima smacked a solo homer in three at bats.
St. Louis outfielder So Taguchi was 0-1 Wednesday against Cincinnati.
The Japanese players association will meet on the 27th to discuss the Takumi Nasuno signing bonus and the scouting scandals.
Three more high schools have been revealed to have offered athletic scholarships in violation of Japan High School Bseball Federation rules. They are Tsuruga Kehi High, which is a well known program, and Sakurada Minami High. Tsuruga's baseball program administrator has resigned. Also appearing to be engaged in this behavior was Fujii Gakuen Samukawa High. They have withdrawn from their prefectural spring tournament as a result.
Two guys that Baseball Tonight left off the all glasses team: Ryne Duren and Brian Downing.