|Photo credit: @Naoto_524_photo|
The Saitama Seibu Lions went a combined 1-4 against the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks and Chiba Lotte Marines. They maintain their lead on top of the Pacific League being 4.5 games ahead of the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters and Hawks.
Here is how it all went down:
The first game from Omiya had Fabio Castillo against Kodai Senga. Both pitchers looked solid, but it was some defense that saved the Lions from allowing runs early. From a jumping catch by Fumikazu Kimura to a throw at home plate by Castillo, they didn't allow any damage through seven innings.
Senga didn't allow a hit until the 4th inning, but the Lions bats couldn't break through with several stranded runners. This included a groundout by Yuji Kaneko with runners on and Tomoya Mori striking out with the bases loaded.
The rain played effect on the game as Neil Wagner entered the 8th and gave up a walk and hit to the first two batters he faced. Things unraveled when Shuta Tonosaki couldn't field a slippery ball and the Hawks took a 1-0 lead. A sacrifice fly with the bases loaded made it 2-0.
Shogo Noda tried coming in to get two outs, but ended up walking in a run and allowing another through a hit to put the game away. This would be the first time the Lions were shutout in 2018.
Hawks 5, Lions 0
-Seichi Uchikawa was going for his 2,000th hit, but the error by Tonosaki denied the milestone and he was 0-5.
The series went to MetLife Dome as Shuta Ishikawa faced Ken Togame in a rematch from two weeks ago. Togame gave up a solo HR to Nobuhiro Matsuda to give the Hawks an early lead. Seiji Uebayashi hit a no-doubt HR in the top of the 6th to make it 2-0.
The Lions bats were mostly cold again with minimal chances. Their best opportunity came in the bottom of the 7th, where the bases were loaded, but Takumi Kuriyama grounded into a 3-6-3 double play to end the threat. Ishikawa went 7.1 scoreless innings with two strikeouts, four hits and two walks allowed.
Takuya Kai pulled off a surprise bunt which led to a ball being thrown away and scored a third run for the Hawks to end any hopes. Togame collided with Hideto Asamura, but both players were alright.
This was the second straight night the Lions were shutout and the first loss in MetLife Dome.
Hawks 3, Lions 0
-Seiichi Uchikawa recorded his 2,000th career hit in NPB against Shota Takekuma in the 8th inning. The game was stopped for a brief recognition.
The homestand continued against the Marines where Yasuo Sano started against Hideaki Wakui. It was Sano's first start in nearly a year after recovering from a leg injury. Hideto Asamura started the scoring with a two-run HR in the bottom of the first, but that was all the glory for the night.
Sano was tagged for several runs in the top of the second, where Matt Dominguez hit a three-run HR. The hits kept coming and the Marines continued to bat around the order for a total of eight runs as Sano was taken out with two outs. Sho Ito allowed the inherited runners to score and it put the game away for good.
Asamura hit a second home run for a consolation, but that was it. The mop up bullpen team came in and allowed four more runs to put icing on the cake as the Lions lost their third straight.
Marines 12, Lions 3
The second game had Mike Bolsigner up against Shinsaburo Tawata. Like the previous game, it was over from the beginning where Tawata was hit for five runs in the top of the second, giving up timely hit after timely hit. He didn't even make it out of the fifth after allowing seven runs total on the day.
Even worse was how the Lions stranded the bases loaded in the bottom of the second when Akiyama grounded out. Bolsinger went six innings and allowed only one run for the day. The only run he allowed was on an RBI groundout by Shuta Tonosaki.
Naoaki Matsumoto and Shogo Noda allowed a couple of runs when the game was already out of hand and the Lions lost their fourth straight.
Marines 11, Lions 2
-Kazuki Kaneko was called up and made his NPB debut in the top of the 9th as a defensive replacement at 3B.
The final game of the week had Daiki Enokida against Edgar Olmos. This one had an early score for the Lions as they put four on the board in the bottom of the first. None was more important than the timely double by Tonosaki with two outs.
Olmos was already done by the second inning, where he walked Yuji Kaneko and it was a nightmare from there. He threw the ball away twice to put Kaneko on third base and the run scored on a bloop single by Akiyama in the second.
An infield single by Fumikazu Kimura put another run on the board to make it 6-0 after five innings. The story was Enokida, who pitched seven shutout innings with six strikeouts and allowing only two walks to go with four hits.
Neil Wagner and Tatsushi Masuda pitched scoreless 8th and 9th innings to secure the win, ending a bad losing streak.
Lions 6, Marines 0
-Enokida is on a four-game win streak. By picking up his fourth win of the season, he already matched his win total with the Hanshin Tigers from 2011-2017. He has not allowed a run in 16.2 consecutive innings, where his last came on April 30.
It was a brutal week, but at least it ended on a high note. Enokida is looking like a fine pickup, possibly an asset through four starts, when the expectations weren't even high. Can't win them all and with a shortened week, the pitching rotation can use it to get healthy later.
Brian Wolfe could be back soon while Yusei Kikuchi is hoping to be ready in a few weeks. Are we getting another spot starter again in two weeks? We'll find out.
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