Thursday, April 16, 2009

04/05 Opening Weekend in Nagoya: Finale

Hello again all. I’m running a little behind with things on the blog here so I'm hoping to get caught up within the next few days. On Sunday April 5th , I found myself back at Nagoya Kyujyo to see the Dragons play in another exhibition game. This time the Toyama Thunderbirds from the BC League were in town and they squared off in what would be a completely one sided match up for Chunichi. Despite that, it was a great experience and it gave me my first glimpse of the BCL League live and up close. The starting pitchers were Yamato Osanai for the Thunderbirds and Kazuyuki Akasaka for Chunichi. Oh, and before I forget, you can check out the Toyama Thunderbirds of the BCL League at their homepage here.

Honestly, I'm not going to say much about the game itself as this game was brutal as Chunichi called it a day in the second inning which also saw 13 hitters come to the plate as well. Chunichi had 8 runs on 8 hits in the bottom of the second alone and it just went on and on from there. Chunichi scored in every which way possible from errors to home runs. Honestly, it looked like Toyama starter Yamato Osanai was throwing batting practice to Chunichi for the entire time that he pitched.

I mean seriously, I felt really bad for the Thunderbirds and their fans because apparently, the team offered some sort of tour package for the fans as there were two buses from Toyama parked outside of the stadium (one for the players and the other for fans). I can say that I share the Thunderbird's' pain because the day and my entire opening series weekend wouldn't get any better by the time this day was over. You know, coming all this way to see your team play and hopefully win but instead having to watch them be humiliated. But despite all of this, the Toyama fans never stopped cheering for the team even as the lead got bigger and bigger and that's what impressed me the most. The atmosphere of the game was pretty much the same as the previous day against Toyota. You could relax and stretch out a little more. There were however, more people there than the previous day because it was a Sunday and Sunday is the one day of the week where people don’t usually work here in Japan and possibly too because the weather was bright and sunny and it was an all around great day for a baseball game.

Chunichi starter Kazuyuki Akasaka warming up before the game.

Toyama Thunderbirds starter Yamato Osanai.

Toyama Thunderbirds DH Yasushi (Ota).

Toyama third baseman Masayuki Ueda with one of the umpires in the background. Yep, There were only two official NPB umpires at the game (one behind the plate and one at second) so they had 2 trainers or some people from Chunichi man first and third. They actually did a great job.

Chunichi outfielder and DH for the day, Lee, Byung-Gyu at the plate.

And speaking of Lee, today's signature of the day is none other than Lee Byung-Gyu himself. Because as you know, I try to make it a point not to leave a minor league game empty handed.

Toyama right fielder and superstar Daishi (Nagamori). And why is he a superstar you might ask? Well...

Because he has his own banner of course.

Toyama's other banner for outfielder Naoya Fujioka.

The final score of the day. It wasn't pretty as you can see.

The Toyama Thunderbirds thanking their fans after the game.

After the game at Nagoya Kyujyo, I went to the Nagoya Dome for the third and final game of the opening series between the BayStars and the Dragons. The stating pitchers were Futoshi Kobayashi for the BayStars and Wei-Yin Chen for the Dragons. Much like the previous game, Chunichi called it a day early on as they got to Kobayashi early in the game, scoring 4 runs in the first inning. The inning started off with Masahiro Araki fouling out to right. Then, Hirokazu Ibata walked and Masahiko Morino promptly doubled to move Ibata to third. After yet another walk to Tony Blanco and Kazuhiro Wada striking out, new Chunichi superstar Kei Nomoto walked to give Chunichi a 1-0 lead. It wouldn't stop there as Atsushi Fuji would single to short to make it 2-0 and then former Yokohama catcher Motonobu Tanishige would double to center to make it 4-0 Chunichi. Kobayashi would settle down after this and pitch another 3 and 2/3 innings allowing only 1 hit in that time frame until the bottom of the 5th when Tony Blanco would reach base and then proceed to second on an error by Kobayashi and then Wada singled to left to make it 5-0 Chunichi.

Wei-Yin Chen on the other hand, was far worse in my opinion as he walked 5 batters through 6 innings while striking out 4 and allowing 3 hits (ironically, his first hit came off of the bat of Kobayashi as he doubled to deep right in his first at bat). But somehow, Yokohama could not capitalize on Chen's mistakes and score runs. It really was bad baseball by Yokohama as not only could they not score runs but also they had 3 errors in this game to go on top of that and that made me lower my head in shame as I seem to be doing all the time nowadays when I go and see the Stars in action.

The night wasn't over for Chunichi however, as Atsushi Fuji would hit his second home run of the season off of Yokohama reliever Hiroki Sanada in the bottom of the 6th to make it 6-0 Chunichi and that's where the score would end up. If it's not “ippatsu byou” with Yokohama's pitchers, it's always something be it loss of control, too many walks, or hit batters or whatever. But in the end, Wei-Yin Chen would pick up the victory for the Dragons and Kobayashi would take the loss for the Stars. It's also interesting to note that, Yokohama has lost their last seven opening series games as they were swept at the Kyocera Dome by Hanshin in 2008 and lost the final game of the 2007 opening series against Yomiuri at Yokohama.

But, good news Stars fans, as of this writing (09/04/15) the BayStars have won 3 of their last four games so it seems that they may be turning things around despite the fact that it's 2 weeks into the new season. So, that's something to cheer about for Stars fans as the season is still young and there's a lot of time to fix things.

Overall, the trip to Nagoya was fun and I had a great time. This was my second time going on the road to see an opening series and this time around it was much better because I got to see not only my favorite team play but also, I got to see a BC League and an Industrial League play for the first time. I really want to go to a game in each respective league this year and perhaps I will get the chance to do so.

Until then everyone, I'll leave you with a picture of a famous local dish from Nagoya and Aichi Prefecture called “Kishimen” which is a thin noodle that resembles the more thicker udon in taste and texture. I always call it udon's “little brother” just for a laugh.

The world famous "Kishimen". If you ever get a chance to go to Nagoya, please eat it. It's quite tasty.

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