Friday, August 14, 2009

Pro Yakyu Super Summer Extravaganza Day 5: Lions Classic @ Seibu Dome 08/05/09

Seibu reliever Koji Mitsui watching Seibu's chances of going to the Climax Series this year go up in smoke. No just kidding, he's watching a fly out while warming up in the bullpen.

Lucky Seven. This is what we in American call "The 7th Inning Stretch". But in Pro Yakyu, it's called "Lucky Seven". Now, why do I bring this up? Well, lately whenever I go to see the Lions, magical and great things happen in the 7th inning. I can't explain it so, I'll let the game report here do the talking for me.

So, I headed back to Seibu Dome after a bad night in Omiya the previous day in hopes of a little redemption. The starters for the game were Hideki Sunaga for the Ham and Kaz Ishii for Seibu. Today was a good day at the Dome as I got to see "Good Ishii" today. You see, it seems every time I go to Seibu Dome, I end up seeing Kaz Ishii pitch and usually it's not good. But today he was ok as he managed to keep Seibu in the game through 7 innings by only giving up 2 runs on 4 hits. But on the other hand, you know it's either going to be one extreme or the other with Ishii so I guess you can call that a good thing. Also too, I was lucky enough to sit right next to the Seibu bullpen in the "Field View Seats" section so in this blog entry, I decided to upload shots of some of Seibu's relievers among other things.

The game didn't have a lot of scoring and like the previous night, the Fighters got on the board in the top of the 5th. Termell Sledge walked to start things off and as per protocol was them moved over to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt by Eichi Koyano. Then, Tomohiro Nioka singled to center which brought in Sledge from 2nd to make it 1-0 Fighters. The, catcher Shinya Tsuruoka promptly doubled to right to make it 2-0 Nippon Ham and that's where the score stayed until the bottom of the 7th.

Nippon Ham outfielder Hichori Morimoto on first after getting on base in the 3rd inning.

Hichori taking a breather at second during a visit to the mound by Seibu's pitching coach.

Tomohiro Nioka. It's still really strange for me not seeing him in an orange, black, and white uniform with #7 on the back. But at the same time, it's almost natural to see him in the gossip columns one way or another these days.

After the customary "Jet Balloons" were let off in the bottom of the 7th, the real fireworks started a bit early for us Lions fans tonight. Hiroyuki Nakajima started things off with an infield single to short and then was moved over to 3rd on a double to left by "Okawari" Nakamura. After a pitching change (Kazumasa Kikuchi) by Nippon Ham and a strike out by pinch hitter Yoshihito Ishii, G.G. Sato singled to center to cut the Ham's lead in half and make it 2-1. Tomoaki Sato then hit a grounder to 3rd which 3rd baseman Tomohiro Nioka tried to make a fielders choice out at home but was unsuccessful and that tied the game at 2 a piece. Then, after back to back RBI singles by Taketoshi Gotoh and Tsumitani Ginjiro, the Fighters made another pitching change (Shintaro Ejiri) and the next batter, Yasuyuki Kataoka, was hit by a pitch. But it really didn't matter as Takumi Kuriyama drove in the final run of the inning on a sacrifice fly to center and Hiroyuki Nakajima grounded out to short to end the 5 run 7th inning for the Lions. Excellent batting and waiting on pitches were the key here. Seibu showed that they still can drive in runs and make it count.

Koji Onuma.

Takuya Hara playing catch in between innings.

Tetsuya Iwasaki and Chikara Onodera held the Fighters scoreless over the 8th and 9th to lead the Lions to victory after what seemed like an eternity. But despite the fact the Nippon Ham lost, I thought that starter Hideki Sunaga was brilliant as he pitched no hit ball through 6 innings. Pitching in general has been a thorn in the side of Seibu all season but they got it done in this game. But, in the games to follow, the problem reared it's ugly head once again as things didn't go so smoothly during the rubber match of this Lions Classic series.

Jun Yamamoto looking like he had just woke up before the game.

Guess who?

TADA! It's interim Seibu closer and all around bad ass Chikara Onodera who has probably one of the best theme songs in all of Japanese baseball. One of my favorite Seibu players no doubt.

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