|Photo credit: @n_524_photo|
The Saitama Seibu Lions had an undefeated week against the Orix Buffaloes and Chiba Lotte Marines combining for 4-0. They have a three-game lead on the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters while still in front for the Pacific League pennant.
The first game against Orix involved Shinsaburo Tawata facing Chihiro Kaneko. Ernesto Mejia started the scoring with a two-run HR in the third.
Tawata looked like he woudl struggle most of the night, but continued to strand runners thanks to good defense behind him. His only run allowed was a HR to Stefen Romero in the 6th inning.
Tomoya Mori and Takeya "Okawari-kun" Nakamura erased any doubt on this game with home runs as the Lions pulled away late. Tawata went the distance for all nine innings, pitching his seventh career complete game and 10th win of the season.
Lions 7, Buffaloes 1
Game two had Ken Togame facing Brandon Dickson. This had the makings of a disaster from the start, where Togame allowed three runs early on through HRs by Romero and Masataka Yoshida for a 3-0 Orix lead in the first. The Lions got a run back with a timely from Hotaka Yamakawa and the bats showed life for most of the time against Dickson.
Togame couldn't learn from before, as Romero recorded as second HR of the night off him. The Lions tied it up at 4-4 off a timely double from Mori and single from Takumi Kuriyama to make it a new ballgame. However, Togame struggled again in the 4th and a run scored off a sacrifice fly to put Orix ahead again.
Hatsuhiko Tsuji didn't mess around afterwards, putting Hiromasa Saito in to take 2.1 innings in relief. The Lions bullpen didn't allow a run for the rest of the night behind Katsunori Hirai, Shogo Noda, Neil Wagner and Deunte Heath. Despite showing life, the Lions bats failed to score, but a last gasp chance came in the 9th off Hirotoshi Masui. Mori hit a sac fly to tie it at 5-5 in the bottom of the 9th, sending it to extras.
Heath struggled with two base runners, but Mori's defense was able to pickoff a runner and prevent anything from happening. The bottom of the 10th belonged to the Lions, where Okawari-kun reached base and secured a modasho. After a bunt sent him to second, it was up to Hideto Asamura with two outs. He hit a gapper on the first pitch for a sayonara victory, giving the Lions their 50th win of the season.
Lions 6, Buffaloes 5 (10 innings)
-Ken Togame was taken off the roster after the game for infielder Haruka Yamada.
The last game had Andrew Albers facing Yusei Kikuchi, where the latter was bumped up in the rotation. This was a classic pitcher's duel as both Kikuchi and Albers continued to strand runners all night long. Orix in particular had a runner on third base many times, but only scored once in the seventh inning on a timely hit from Koji Oshiro. Shuta Tonosaki hit a solo HR in the 5th inning as the Lions only run in nine innings.
This one went to extra innings where Deunte Heath allowed a runner to reach third base, but he stranded it as Stefen Romero popped out to centerfield. Okawari-kun started a rally again with a single and Fumikazu Kimura bunted him to second base. Tomoya Mori came in as a pinch hitter for Ginjiro Sumitani and delievered with a sayonara hit off the wall, giving the Lions their fourth win in a row.
Lions 2, Buffaloes 1 (10 innings)
The week remained in Kanto as they traveled to Chiba to take on the Marines. Brian Wolfe faced Mike Bolsinger. This game was rained out due to a typhoon hitting the area and they postponed it in the early morning.
Chiba stuck with Bolsinger to start while Daiki Enokida pitched on Sunday. This had the makings of a high scoring affair, but it was a key "base hit" that dropped into the outfield off a ball from Shuta Tonosaki. Taiga Hirasawa and Shogo Nakamura miscommunicated and it was a four-run third inning for the Lions.
Despite all of this, Enokida loaded the bases and left in the fourth inning. Hiromasa Saito was called on to clean it up and allowed nothing on his own in that frame with a key strikeout. He loaded the bases again and gave up a run in the 5th, but limited the damage to keep it a 6-3 game.
Takumi Kuriyama, Hideto Asamura and Shogo Saito had timely hits throughout the night with the latter piling it on the 9th inning as the Lions took the stand alone game. As a result, H. Saito earned his first career win.
Lions 9, Marines 3
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