Tuesday, March 31, 2009

3/28 Seibu vs Yakult: Yakult Strikes Again

Hello again everyone. So, on Saturday, I decided to stay “close to home” and go to a Lions pre-season game at the Seibu Dome. It wasn’t really that close to be honest as the Seibu Dome is about an hour and ten minutes from where I live but still, it’s the closest stadium to where I live so I was happy not to have to go that far. The Saitama Seibu Lions faced off against the Tokyo Yakult Swallows in a brutal match up for the Lions as you will see in a minute. Last week on Thursday (March 26th) the Swallows made an example of the BayStars by pounding them 10-1 at Jingu Stadium and Yakult pretty much continued their dominating ways in this game as well.

But before I go on about the game, I’d like to point out that the Seibu Dome has a different look this year as the team (or whomever) has added some new seating areas to the stadium. This is a welcome change to the Seibu Dome in my opinion and was probably long overdue in the eyes of many.

The first area of seats are called the “Field View Seats”. Very catchy name I know but regardless, the seats are located right next to the bullpen area on each side of the stadium and are basically the same thing as the “Excite Seats” at the Tokyo Dome or better yet, they are the same thing as the "Field Reserved Seats" at Skymark Stadium in Kobe. They are 4000-4500 per ticket and will be hard to come by in my opinion as the Seibu Fan Club gets to buy tickets in advance and will probably purchase these seats almost always.

The second area of seats are the “Dugout Terrace” and are for groups of 5 people. They are pretty much the same thing as the "Picnic Boxes" at Chiba Marine Stadium but closer to the field. And also too, Seibu has added an area within the stadium itself too. This new area (1st and 3rd base side naturally) features new restaurants and daycare facilities among other things and it looks really awesome to be quite honest with you. Here's a link with some official photos courtesy of Seibu: Official Photos

Now, onto the game itself. The game was brutal for Seibu as they looked bad despite getting 7 hits in the game. Granted, Seibu didn't have Kataoka or Nakajima in the line up but still, they got beat really bad. The starting pitchers for the day were Takayuki Kishi for Seibu and Shohei Tateyama for Yakult. Tateyama pitched a great game for the Swallows whereas Kishi not so much. Ok, despite winning the MVP award in the Japan Series last year and probably putting on one of the best pitching displays I’ve ever seen, Kishi has looked not so good during the pre-season this year. He didn’t make the cut for “Samurai Japan” and has left me (and many others I assume) scratching their heads. The best way I can put it is that Takayuki Kishi is an enigma. Kishi ended up giving up 5 runs in the game yet somehow managed 8 strikeouts. I really just don't get it but that's Kishi for you.

Kishi managed to pitch the first 2 innings with ease but he ran into trouble in his next 2. New acquired Swallow Jamie D’Antona hit his 4th home run of the preseason with a solo shot to right. D’Antona really impressed me during these 2 games at the Seibu Dome as he hit well and played all around great baseball. He should be a great player for Yakult this year.

Then, in the top of the 4th with 2 men on, Aaron Guiel hit a 3 run home run to right to make it 4-0 Yakult and from there, the Swallows never looked back.

In the top of the 6th, Yoshiyuki Noguchi hit a sacrifice fly to left and Yasushi Iihara came in to score from third to make it 5-0 Yakult. Seibu managed to score their only run of the game in the bottom of the 6th when Taketoshi Gotoh singled to right to drive in Takumi Kuriyama from third to make it 5-1 Yakult.

Yakult, however, was not finished for the day as they added 3 more runs in the top of the 8th. Yakult managed to load the bases on a walk, an error by Seibu third baseman Takeya “Okawari” Nakamura, and a failed double play attempt by Seibu first baseman Takayuki Shimizu. After that, Yakult scored a run on a passed ball by Seibu catcher Kousuke Noda and after that, Hiroyasu Tanaka singled to left to drive in the other 2 runners which made it 8-1 Yakult and that's where the game ended up.

Shohei Tateyama picked up the win for the Birds while Kishi was stuck with the loss despite almost getting into double digit strikeouts. All in all, it was a great first game at the Seibu Dome for the year and plus, I got to cheer for the Swallows which is something I never do. Perhaps, in my free time I'll work on practicing their cheer songs a little more. Oh and if you want to find out more about the Swallows, you can go visit my friends Garrett, Chris, and Dave over at Tsubamegun Central as I like to call it. They do a good job of covering the Birds and their blog is well worth a look in my opinion.

Seibu fans going crazy at the start of the game.

Yakult fans cheering their team while some fans prepare to cheer for their local celebrity right fielder by holding Canadian flags.

Former Yomiuri Giant now Saitama Seibu Lion Takayuki Shimizu. The crowd loves him despite his past and I think he will help the Lions out this year.

1 comment:

  1. It's great that all these stadiums are doing renovations. Sendai, Chiba, Seibu, and even the Tokyo Dome. And the new Zoom^2 Stadium in Hiroshima even has a BBQ area (equivalent to the picnic/terrace areas). At least it looks like NPB will no longer be stifled by any more cookie cutter domes!

    Oh, and it's odd that Seibu's been playing in their spring training unis, but they already debuted their new regular season threads in the games against the WBC national teams. Odd.