Baseball: Hotta and Polanco help the giants get past the swallows

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Kenshin Hotta of Yomiuri Giants serves against Yakult Swallows during their Central League match at Jingu Stadium in Tokyo on August 5, 2022. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Kenshin Hotta threw an impressive seven innings aided by a huge catch and two homers from longtime Pittsburgh Pirate Gregory Polanco as the Yomiuri Giants defeated the Central League-leading Yakult Swallows on Friday defeated 9:5.

Hotta (2-2) facilitated a two-hit, two-walk run at the historic Jingu Stadium while scoring six in his first win since making his pro debut on March 31.

“I didn’t do anything to build on that first win so I’m pretty happy with that,” said the rookie. “I was hoping to give the team some momentum in the first game of the series.”

The Giants took a second inning lead when catcher Takumi Oshiro hit a two-run home run. However, Hotta allowed Domingo Santana a solo home run in the home half before loading the bases with an out.

The right-hander beat out Swallows pitcher Yasuhiro Ogawa (5-6) but then gave up a drive on the left gap.

With his long stride, Polanco caught up to rob batting leadoff man Yasutaka Shiomi of a three-run double. Polanco scored in the fourth to make it 3-1. After Ogawa was out of the game, he hit his 16th homer in the seventh with a man in a five-time Giants breakout.

“The fact that I was able to penetrate deep into the game boosted my self-confidence. It wasn’t just the offense (from Polanco) but also the great fielding behind me,” said Hotta, who retired the last 17 batters he faced.

Zelous Wheeler landed at the top of ninth place for the Giants, who got a scare in the home half after Jose Osuna blasted a grand slam and two runners caught with an out.

Elsewhere in the CL, the Hanshin Tigers beat the Hiroshima Carp 3-2 and the DeNA BayStars beat the Chunichi Dragons 4-2.

In the Pacific League, league-leading Seibu Lions won for the second consecutive year on a walk-off home run by “Sayonara,” while Seiji Kawagoe finished 10th in a 4-3 win over the Lotte Marines.

The Orix Buffaloes came from behind with a triple homer from Yutaro Sugimoto to beat the Nippon Ham Fighters 5-2 while the SoftBank Hawks beat the Rakuten Eagles 7-3.

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