Baseball: Buffaloes shut out Swallows to take 3-2 Japan Series lead

Yakult starter Yasuhiro Ogawa was nearly as good. The Game 1 winner gave up four singles, two walks, one intentional, and a hit batsman over six innings.

Ogawa also had the Swallows’ best at-bat against Yamasaki, a 10-pitch third-inning walk, which went for naught thanks to two good catches in center by Nakagawa.

The Buffaloes broke the scoreless deadlock in the sixth. Ryo Ota singled for the second time and was sacrificed to second. With two outs, Orix’s Game 5 hero, Masataka Yoshida, was walked intentionally.

Yutaro Sugimoto, who singled in the only run in Orix’s 1-0 Game 4 victory, again broke the ice with a two-out RBI single.

“It was another tough game, where runs were hard to come by,” Orix manager Satoshi Nakajima said.

“I figured they were going to walk Yoshida, so I was praying one of the batters coming up after him would get a hit, because otherwise we wouldn’t win, and he (Sugimoto) did.”

With the lead in hand, Yuki Udagawa, Yoshihisa Hirano and Soichiro Yamazaki each struck out two in a scoreless inning.

Yutaro Sugimoto of the Orix Buffaloes hits an RBI single in the sixth inning against the Yakult Swallows in Game 6 of the Japan Series at Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium on Oct. 29, 2022. (Kyodo)

Ogawa worked six innings, and the game remained 1-0 until the ninth. Closer Scott McGough, whose throwing error on Thursday contributed to three ninth-inning runs, made another bad throw, leading to two unearned runs.

With a three-run lead, Jacob Waguespack worked a 1-2-3 ninth against the heart of Yakult’s order to earn his second save of the series.

Swallows cleanup hitter Munetaka Murakami, who this year became Japan’s youngest Triple Crown-winning hitter, drew two of Yakult’s five walks, but is now hitless in the last three games.

Yamasaki started in place of Orix ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto. The winner of the Sawamura Award as Japan’s most impressive starting pitcher for the second straight year, left Game 1 due to discomfort in his left oblique muscles.

Hiroya Miyagi is slated to start against Yakult’s Cy Sneed in Game 7.