Saturday, August 22, 2009

Pro Yakyu Super Summer Extravaganza Day 7: Nippon Ham vs. Seibu @ Sapporo Dome 08/14/09

Hello again everyone. For the second leg of my Pro Yakyu Super Summer Extravaganza, I decided to get away from the greenhouse that is Kanto and Honshu and decided to head north to Hokkaido where it is much cooler. And while here, I decided to catch a great deal of Fighters games at Sapporo Dome and Asashikawa in the Dohoku region of Hokkaido. I came to Hokkaido once 2 years ago and saw a couple of games at Sapporo Dome but I really didn't enjoy them cause I didn't know much about the Pacific League at that time. But this time around was different. I actually knew who the players were and knew the teams a bit better so I was able to enjoy the games more and overall had a great time. And also too, the Fighters were facing the Lions so that helped out a lot as well. So for my first game I was in for quite a treat. Now, they say that a picture is worth a thousand words so can you guess what this picture means:

That's right. My first game in, I got to see this guy on the mound for the Ham. Now on the one hand, I was extremely excited to see one of the best pitchers that I'll probably ever see in my lifetime. But on the other hand, you know the one that roots for Seibu, I was cursing up a storm because it seems that you have a better chance of getting struck by lightning these days than you have of beating Darvish at Sapporo Dome.

Darvish was his normal dominant self for most of the game only allowing 5 hits over 8 innings while giving up 2 runs and striking out 12 while Kazuyuki Hoashi was just not good. Although Hoashi gave up only one run in the contest, he allowed 6 hits over his first 3 innings over work and by the time he departed in the 4th inning, he had already thrown 86 pitches. Not good for a team that desperately needs pitching.

As for the scoring, it seemed that the Ham found their groove early in the game with their hitting and scored runs at various times throughout the game. Atsunori Inaba put the Fighters on the board first with an RBI single to center with one on in the bottom of the 3rd to make it 1-0. But the Lions continued the "Lucky Seven" theme in the top of the 7th when Hiroyuki Nakajima singled to center and Okawari-kun doubled to left. Then, Yoshihito Ishii singled to shallow center to make it 1-1 and promptly after that, GG Sato singled to 2nd to make it 2-1 and it seemed that Darvish was in trouble. But he eventually rebounded and pitched another inning and with some help from the Ham's offense. Atsunori Inaba added another run in the bottom of the 7th on a sacrifice fly to right with one on to make it 2-2. In the bottom of the 8th, Makoto Kaneko drove in the final run for the Ham on a RBI single to shallow center to make it 3-2 and give Nippon Ham the win.

So while the loss was disappointing because Seibu blew a comeback attempt, it really came down to the fact that they just couldn't get anything going against Darvish and by the time they did, Nippon Ham had gained enough steam that allowed them to come back. So while, I could forgive Seibu for this loss, I couldn't forgive them for what was about to happen in the next game.

New Seibu reliever Jonah Bayliss pitching in his first game in Japan I believe.

Nakajima doing his best Darvish impression before the game.

Kazuyuki Hoashi.

Yu Darvish. Enough said.

Yu Darvish thinking.

Yep, it's Darvish again.

Darvish. I mean seriously, what kind of Yakyu blogger would I be if I didn't have a post featuring Darvish?

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