While Tomoaki Kanemoto finally took a day off--well, most of it anyway--it was business as usual for his Hanshin Tigers teammate Craig Brazell.
On a day that saw a little baseball history made as Kanemoto's NPB record consecutive-game streak without missing an inning ended at 1,492, Brazell jacked an eighth-inning three-run homer out of ballyard as the Tigers doubled up on the BayStars 8-4 at Yokohama Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
"In that situation I was just looking to get the ball up in the air," said Brazell, who also had a pair of doubles on the day and drove in four runs. "I wasn't going up there thinking home run, but I was able to get it out of the ballpark."
With Takashi Toritani and Kenji Jojima on base after a walk and a single, Brazell crushed a Kentaro Kuwahara pitch on the outer half of the plate, sending it over the bleachers in right-center field onto a tree-lined walkway.
"I guess the wind was blowing right today," said Brazell of his monster shot, his seventh home run of the season.
Kodai Sakurai also had three hits for Hanshin, driving in a pair of runs, and Ken Nishimura (2-0) got the win, working one scoreless inning in relief.
Starter Yuya Ando went five-plus innings for the Tigers, allowing four runs on seven hits. Tomoyuki Kubota was credited with a hold after working a scoreless eighth and closer Kyuji Fujikawa pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to finish it off.
Daisuke Hayakawa drove in all four runs for the home team. Hayakawa, who moved to Yokohama from the Lotte Marines during the offseason, was 3-for-4 at the dish. His two-run single put the Stars up 2-0 in the bottom of the third inning and he nailed a two-run homer to right off Ando in the bottom of the fifth to give Yokohama a 4-2 lead.
A Sakurai RBI single up the middle in the top of the sixth scored Brazell from second to make it a 4-3 game before Brazell went deep in the eighth to put Hanshin ahead for good. In the ninth, Takahiro Arai drove in a run with a bloop RBI single to right and Jojima hit a sacrifice fly to left to cap the scoring.
Kuwahara (1-1) took the loss. He gave up three runs on three hits and walk in one-third of an inning. Yokohama veteran Daisuke Miura got the start Sunday, giving up three runs on eight hits over six frames.
The biggest news of the day, however, came before the game when Tigers skipper Akinobu Mayumi handed in his lineup card. For the first time since July 1, 1999, when he was with the Hiroshima Carp, 42-year-old veteran outfielder Kanemoto's name was absent from the starting lineup.
Kanemoto, whose right shoulder has been bothering him all season, did make a pinch-hit appearance Sunday, grounding out to second in the eighth inning as his batting average dropped to .164.
"He's been a fixture in this lineup for a long time, and some other lineups as well," said Brazell, referring to Kanemoto's streak. "He's been at it since before I even started playing baseball. He's been a great player for a long time and he's still great. He's got some good baseball left in him."