Newcomer Edgar Gonzalez smacked a two-run homer and doubled in another run to back a solid outing by starter Shugo Fujii as the Yomiuri Giants topped the Hiroshima Carp 6-1 on Wednesday afternoon in preseason action at Tokyo Dome.
Gonzalez, who also reached base on an error, connected for a two-run home run in the fourth off Carp starter Takeshi Komatsu, a line shot to left just inside the foul pole. The former San Diego Padres infielder hit an RBI double to right-center off reliever Masaki Hayashi in the fifth, two batters after reigning Central League MVP Alex Ramirez had doubled in a run when he clobbered a Komatsu delivery off the wall in center.
"Edgar fits in very well with this club," Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said after the game. "Playing second base you have to make many small, subtle plays that don't necessarily show up in the scorebook. Gonzalez has also been hitting the ball well and he's going to be an excellent asset for the Giants."
Michihiro Ogasawara and Yoshitomo Tani also doubled in runs for Yomiuri, both off Carp reliever Mike Schultz in the seventh.
Fujii, a veteran left-hander who joined the Giants from the Nippon-Ham Fighters in the offseason, allowed just one run on two hits through six innings. He fanned four and walked one.
Closer Marc Kroon worked a 1-2-3 seventh inning for Yomiuri, his first live action since closing out Game 6 of the Giants' Japan Series victory back in November. Kroon had several bone chips removed from his pitching elbow over the offseason but he came out firing on Wednesday. His first pitch was clocked a 152 kph.
"The anticipation was the hard part, to finally get out there," Kroon said. "It was everything I expected--it's baseball, it's pitching and it's fun. Pitching is all about confidence. The more innings you can get under your belt, the more batters you face, boosts your confidence. Today was definitely something to build on."
Tigers 8, Swallows 7
At Tokyo's Jingu Stadium, Hanshin's Kodai Sakurai belted a pair of home runs and Craig Brazell also went yard as the Tigers edged Yakult.
Aaron Guiel was 3-for-3 for the Swallows with a pair of home runs and three RBIs while Jamie D'Antona had a pair of hits, including a two-run tater.
Tigers starter Casey Fossum had a rough outing. He allowed all seven runs (six earned) on 10 hits--including three home runs--through just four innings.
Swallows starter Ryo Kawashima didn't fare much better. The right-hander allowed seven runs on 11 hits over six innings. He also gave up three longballs.
BayStars 5, Dragons 3
At Yokohama Stadium, Terrmel Sledge was 2-for-3 with a solo home run and Jose Castillo drove in two runs on a pair of doubles as the BayStars beat Chunichi.
Castillo boosted his average to .414 this spring while Yokohama leadoff hitter Takehiko Ishikawa went 2-for-3 to up his average to .500.
Former Lotte Marines right-hander Naoyuki Shimizu allowed one run on eight hits over six innings to pick up the win for Yokohama.