OSAKA – Second-year catcher Yuichi Adachi drove in three runs on two hits to help the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles defeat the Orix Buffaloes 7-0 on Saturday.
The day’s lone game started out as a pitchers’ duel between two right-handed rookies — Rakuten’s Shoma Fujihira, 19, and Orix’s Taisuke Yamaoka, 22 — until Adachi’s two-run triple broke the deadlock in the sixth inning at Kyocera Dome.
In the top of the ninth, Ginji Akaminai hit a two-run triple of his own and the Eagles scored two more runs off errors before Adachi drove home the team’s seventh run.
Fujihira (3-4) picked up the win after tossing two-hit ball over six innings, striking out six while walking one and hitting a batter in his 92-pitch effort.
Yamaoka (8-11) took the loss as the two runners he left on base scored after Mamoru Kishida relieved him with no outs in the sixth.
Rakuten, third this year in the Pacific League, will play the second-place Seibu Lions in the first stage of the Climax Series starting next Saturday at MetLife Stadium.
Fourth-place Orix, meanwhile, presented Takahiro Okada with a special award worth ¥99,999 (about $890) to commemorate his “missing” hitting NPB’s 100,000th home run last week.
Chris Marrero, who hit the milestone shot on Sept. 29 shortly after Okada hit the 99,999th, handed the prize in an apologetic gesture as the 12th-year slugger’s homer that day would have been No. 100,000 — which comes with an NPB bonus of ¥1 million — had the American’s home run in his Japan debut counted.
On June 9, Marrero hit what would have been a two-run home run, but overstepped home plate and his feat was downgraded to an RBI triple.