Saturday, August 1, 2009
Pro Yakyu Super Summer Extravaganza Day #1: Yokohama vs. Hiroshima @ Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium 07/31/09
Greetings and Good Evening from Hiroshima, Japan everyone. I’m officially on the road for the start of my “Pro Yakyu Super Summer Holiday Extravaganza” in which I will be bringing you Pro Yakyu coverage from almost all parts of Japan. The trip started today (July 31st) when I arrived in Hiroshima for a Carp series against my Yokohama BayStars. But before I go on, I’d like to apologize in advance for this blog. I’m writing this blog entry on July 31st, 2009 but you may be reading this sometime in the distant future. The simple reason for that is because the 旅館 (Japanese style inn) I’m staying at does not have internet access and therefore I can’t update my blog. But rest assured, I just came out of the game a few hours ago so my mind is fresh and brimming with memories of the game. And believe me folks, this game was one to remember when it was all said and done.
Ok, so after eating my daily dose of Hiroshima Okonomiyaki, I headed to the stadium at around 4pm and I could immediately tell that the atmosphere of baseball in Hiroshima had changed. I mean, nothing against the old 広島市民球場 (Hiroshima Municipal Ballpark) but when you walk outside of Hiroshima Station, you can tell that baseball is cool again in Hiroshima and this is in large part because of the new stadium in my opinion. All along the way to the stadium, there are many restaurants and vendors selling various Carp goods and food as well. But the true beauty of going to the new stadium is when you actually walk up to it for the first time. It’s like a breath of fresh air and trust me, if you ever went to the old stadium, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Hands down, Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium is one of the best ballparks in Japan and if I could recommend one stadium to see a game at, this would be it. Don’t let the name fool you as that became secondary after today’s game.
Takuro Ishii having a laugh before the game.
Takuro thinking about the game at hand.
Seiichi Uchikawa walking back to the dugout after warming up in the outfield.
"Hama No Ojisan" Kimiyasu Kudoh signing some things for a few young BayStars fans.
Now as for the game itself, this one was one for the ages in my opinion. It was long yet exciting. It was like pulling teeth because it was very painful to watch at times. It had more twists and turns than a rubix cube. It was the perfect introduction to Mazada Zoom Zoom Stadium for me. The starting pitchers for the game were Yuji Yoshimi for the Stars and Takahiro Aoki (who I’ve seen about 50 times this season already) for the Carp. Both pitchers started out ok with Yoshimi having controls problems through the first couple of innings. Yoshimi’s only mistake was giving up a solo home run to Andy Phillips in the bottom of the 2nd to put Hiroshima on the board first.
Hiroshima lead off hitter Akihiro Higashide at the plate.
Yokohama lead off hitter for the night Tatsuhiko Kinjoh batting right-handed (don't see much of that these days). Kinojh is a switch-hitter too for those out there that didn't know.
And from there things got quiet for the next few innings with both Aoki Taka and Yoshimi each retiring the next nine batters in order. But in the top of the 6th, Yokohama struck back when Seiichi Uchikawa singled to left and then was brought home by and RBI double by Shuichi Murata which tied the game at 1 a piece.
Yokohama starter Yuji Yoshimi warming up in between innings.
Yoshimi pondering what he's going to do next.
Then, things got interesting for the Stars in the top of the 7th when Yuki Yoshimura singled to lead of the inning. After being moved over to second on a bunt by Takehiro Ishikawa, pinch hitter Tatsuya Shimozono walked to put runners on second for the next pinch hitter Dan Johnson. Now honestly, Johnson's batting average has been anything to brag about but he does have 13 home runs on the year, well 14 now because he launched a monster shot to right field which made it 4-1 Yokohama.
But then, things took a turn for the worse. Like a bad movie script, Yokohama's relievers decided to suck and coughed up 4 runs in the bottom of the 8th which gave Hiroshima the lead again. It all started when pitcher Kousuke Katoh decided to hit Takuro Ishii with a pitch (Katoh is now my most hated player on Yokohama for obvious reasons too). After Takuro was checked out by the trainers and was ok thankfully, pinch hitter Jun Hirose doubled to left to put runners on 2nd and 3rd. Now, I fully believe in Karma and what happened next was because of the deadball that happened earlier on in my opinion. Akihiro Higashide hit a routine grounder to short but Takehiro Ishikawa misplayed the ball for an error and Takuro scored from 3rd to make it 4-2. And what happened after that was also due to Karma as well in my opinion. By this time, Hiroki Sanada had replaced Katoh but it didn't matter who was on the mound as pinch hitter Masafumi Suenaga TRIPLED to right center field which tied the game at 4 a piece. But Hiroshima wasn't done yet as Soichiro Amaya singled to center to give Hiroshima the lead which made it 5-4.
But Yokohama wasn't finished as Takehiro Ishikawa singled to second to lead off the top of the 9th. After that, he was moved over to second on a bunt hit by Tatsuya Shimozono. Shimozono then stole second and after a fly out by pinch hitter Shingo Takeyama, pinch hitter Yoshiyuki Kuwahara grounded into a force out at third as Ishikawa was tagged out at home on the play. Then, Hiroshima closer Katsuhiro Nakagawa threw a wild pitch which brought in Shimozono and tied the game at 5 and also Kuwahara advanced to second on the play. Kazuya Fujita then singled to left which put runners on 1st and 3rd and after that, Seiichi Uchikawa hit a grounder to third which Scott McClain misplayed for an error and allowed Kuwahara to score to make it 6-5. Shuichi Murata then singled to right to bring in Fujita and that made it 7-5.
Hiroshima tried to mount a comeback in the bottom of the 9th but could only manage one run on a sacrifice fly by Jun Hirose despite Shun Yamaguchi's control problems and the score ended up at 7-6 on a wild night in Hiroshima. As I said earlier, Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium was great and it was probably the most fun I've had at a baseball game in quite sometime. The atmosphere in Hiroshima is great for baseball as I can't remember it being so lively at the stadium in Hiroshima. If any team needed a turnaround in terms of marketing and attendance, it was the Carp and hopefully, fans can enjoy the new stadium and great baseball for years to come.
Hiroshima closer Katsuhiro Nakagawa sweating bullets so to speak after he had just blown his save chance.
Yokohama closer Shun Yamaguchi sweating bullets so to speak as he was in the middle of his own little jam in the bottom of the 9th.
Game hero Shuichi Murata being interviewed for TV after the game.