Baseball: Rookie pitcher leads COVID-hit Giants past Tigers

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Iori Yamasaki of the Yomiuri Giants plays in their Central League baseball game against the Hanshin Tigers at Tokyo Dome on August 4, 2022. (kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Rookie Iori Yamasaki pitched eight innings and scored in one run as the Yomiuri Giants defeated the Hanshin Tigers 7-0 in the Central League to go on a four-game losing streak on Thursday.

The Tokyo Dome win was Yomiuri’s first since most of his squad contracted the coronavirus. The Giants canceled six games due to a lack of players, only to get back into action on Tuesday and Wednesday with back-to-back losses.

The Giants knocked out Aaron Wilkerson (5-5) in a five-run second inning when the first-year Tigers import didn’t record an out. Yamasaki, the sixth straight hitter to reach base, scored in Yomiuri’s fourth run to go after Wilkerson.

Yamasaki (3-3) hit five while conceding three hits and missing none. It was the first time he completed the eighth inning. Yamasaki retired the last 15 batters he faced.

“I made good use of my time in the two weeks we didn’t have games. I was able to keep challenging hitters in the hitting zone,” he said.

In the Pacific League, Takeya Nakamura opened the scoring with a two-run homer in the fourth inning and hit a one-out walk-off homer to carry the league-leading Seibu Lions to a 3-2 win over the Orix Buffaloes respectively.

Five different Rakuten Eagles recorded a 10-1 win over the Lotte Marines in Sendai, while the Nippon Ham Fighters and SoftBank Hawks played to a 3-3, 12-inning draw in Sapporo.

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