Orix DH Tuffy Rhodes was just about his team's entire offense Tuesday, as he homered twice and drove in three runs in a 4-2 Buffaloes victory at Sapporo Dome over Nippon Ham. He now has seven on the year, leading both leagues in that category, and dropped last year's Japan Series champs into the Pacific League cellar.
Beneficiary of Rhodes' outburst was Yoshihisa Hirano, who twirled seven shutout innings on five hits and struckout eight for his intial 2007 win.
Yoshinori Tateyama started for the Fighters and was hung with the loss when he was bounced around for four runs and five hits in six innings and is now 1-1.
Buffs third baseman Greg LaRocca singled in the first with two outs and Rhodes nine ironed a sinker down in the zone near the foul pole in right for a 2-0 lead.
Nippon Ham had two on and nobody out in the second, but a pair of groundouts and the whiff short circuited that.
Tateyama walked Rhodes in the fourth and was liquidated on a 5-4 force off the bat of first baseman Hirotoshi Kitagawa. Rightfielder Shinji Shimoyama singled to right and Kitagawa rambld to third. Shortstop Keiji Obiki grounded to second and Kitagawa crossed to make it 3-0.
Nippon Ham got doubles in both the fourth and fifth and they were left standing around on groundouts and strikeouts.
Rhodes turn came around again in the sixth and he pummled a slider into the rightcenterfield seats to improve it to 4-0.
Hirano was perfect in both the sixth and seventh and Shuji Yoshida was entrusted with the baseball for the eighth. Centerfielder Hichori Morimoto doubled to right and moved ot third on a groundout. Leftfielder Tomochika Tsuboi grounded to short and Morimoto dashed across to slice it to 4-1.
Lance Carter succeeded Yoshida and was greeted by rightfielder Atsunori Inaba's jack to right before two flyouts and a groundout brough the curtain down for Carter's third save. Carter's ERA, though, is 6.43.
The Fighters have scored just 38 runs in 14 games. Do you think they miss Michihiro Ogasawara?
For Nippon Ham, DH Fernando Seguignol was 0-4 and is at .268. Third baseman Andy Green was 0-4 and is at .178.
For Orix,. LaRocca was 1-4 and is at .404. Rhodes was 2-3 with a walk and is at .273. He needs 33 more homers for 400.
Softbank DH Brian Buchanan collected three hits and a sac fly for four RBIs to lend support to starter Nagisa Arakaki, who put his cleats on the neck of the Chiba Lotte Marines at Fukuoka Dome Tuesday with eight innings of one uneraned run ball on seven hits and eight strikeouts for his second win in a 13-1 wipeout. Rightfielder Hiroshi Shibahar awas right behind Buchanan with three RBIs of his own.
Naoyuki Shimizu started for Lotte and was detonated for nine runs, five earned, on eight hits in three innings for his ninth straight loss in confrontations with the Hawks and he is 0-2 on the new year after being hit hard in his last two assignments.
Arakaki was wild in the second, walking a pair with two gone, but second baseman Shunichi Nemoto struckout and that was the last time that the Marines were in it.
In the home ups, third baseman Hiroki Kokubo singled to left and Shibahara doubled off the leftfield wall. Buchanan singled to center and it was 1-0. Catcher Katsuki Yamazaki grounded to shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who gunned it home to nail Shibahara. The runners advanced on a groundout and centerfielder Naoyuki Omura singled to left to send them scurrying home to enhance the advantage to 3-0.
In the third, leftfielder Hitoshi Tamura, back from an injury, singled to right and first baseman Nobuhiko Matsunaka doubled against the rightfield fence. Kokubo singled to left for an RBI. One out later, Buchanan flied out to right and Matsunaka tagged up and slipped across to make it 5-0.
Shimizu then opened the door himself in the fourth when he fumbled second baseman Yuichi Honda's ground ball for an error and he walked Omura. Reserve shortstop Munenori Kawasaki laid down a bunt. Shimizu decided to go to third with it and threw wide of the bag and everybody was safe. Tamura walked to force Honda in and knock Shimizu out og the game. Koji Takagi climbed the hill and struck Matsunaka out, but Kokubo singled to center for another RBI. Shibahara doubled to leftcenter and cleaned up the community. Buchanan doubled to the wall in center and Shibahara cruised in to put it at 11-0. This also helped to elevate Buchanan's average with runners in scoring position to .500. He is definitely providing him with production that they weren't getting out of the DH spot in 2006.
Lotte had two on with two out in the fifth and a popup undermined that. Softbank then splattered two more on the big board in the sixth when Kokubo walked against Satoru Komiyama and Shibahara doubled to leftcenter. Buchanan singled to left and Kokubo trotted in to make it 13-0.
Matsunaka misplayed backup catcher Tasuku Hashimoto's grounder in the eighth and rightfielder Matt Watson singled to right and the runners advanced on a wild pitch. One out later, Leftfielder Takeshi Aono grounded to short and Hashimoto crossed to put it at 13-1. Arakaki surrendered one more single before obtaining the third out and handing it off to rookie Morifuku to mop up in the ninth.
In their story about this game, Hochi Sports went on at length about Tamura's return and totally glossed over anything that Buchanan did. Talk about sloppy reporting!
For Lotte, Watson was 1-4 and is at .267. Zuleta was 1-4 and is at .277.
For Softbank, Buchanan was 3-4 with a sac fly and is at .340.
It was 50 degrees and raining at Miyagi Prefectural Stadium Tuesday, but Seibu starter Hideaki Wakui endured the elements and went the distance on a run and five hits and 130 pitches to preserve a 4-1 victory over Rakuten. Like his sempai (senior) on the club, Fumiya Nishiguchi, Wakui is now 3-0.
Kanehisa Arime started for the Eagles and didn't get out of the third before manager Katsuya Nomura opted to go to the pen. He was ultimately charged with three runs on five hits in 2.1 innings and is 1-2 as a result.
Rakuten had two on and one out in the second and that was disappeared on two groundouts.
The Lions then had some fun with Arime in the third, as catcher Toru Hosokawa singled to left and third baseman Takeya Nakamura thundered the first pithc he saw into the leftfield seats for a 2-0 lead. One out later, second baseman Yasuyuki Kataoka singled to right. Shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima doubled to right and Kataoka flashed around the basepaths to the plate to put it at 3-0.
In the bottom segment, though, Eagles rightfielder Koichi Isobe tripled to left with two outs and eased in on third baseman Jose Fernandez' double to left to pare it to 3-1. Wakui then struck the next four men out on the way to retiring 17 in a row until Fernandez' single to center with one gone in the ninth and a game ending double play.
Lions rightfielder Takahiko Sato reached on an infield hit in the fourth and went to second on a groundout. One out later, Hiroyuki Oshima, pinch hitting for centerfielder Tomoaki Sato, singled to right to slingshot Sato in with hsi team's fourth run. It was academic, because Wakui was just too dominant over the last two thirds of the contest.
For Seibu, first baseman Alex Cabrera was 1-3 with a walk and two strikeouts and is at .235.
For Rakuten, Fernandez was 2-4 and is at .229. First baseman Kevin Witt was 0-3 with two strikeouts and is at .175. Leftfielder Ric Short was 1-3 and is at .333.
team official indicated that they intend to draft Osaka Toin High slugger
Sho Nakata on the first round this fall.
Rakuten The Eagles are preparing to take legal action against the owner of an internet fan club for pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. The site reportedly includes photos illegally taken from the team's homepage as well footage of the righthander without the permission. He was alos reportedly selling Tanaka-related souvenirs. After the site came to the attention of Rakuten, it closed, but right now the Eagles lawyers still seem intent on making it a legal matter.
Softbank The team lost shortstop Munenori Kawasaki when he broke a finger on his righthand during pre-game infield drills. He will be gone at least a month.