Saturday, September 5, 2009

Pro Yakyu Super Summer Extravaganza Day 9: Nippon Ham vs. Seibu @ Sapporo Dome 08/16/09

Okawari-kun is feeling down because of the Lion's recent string of losses.

There are a few old sayings in the English language that go as follows:

“The third time’s the charm.”

“If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.”

So, what do these have to do with this game? Well, it seemed that after 2 attempts at taking down the mighty Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, the Saitama Seibu Lions FINALLY had Nippon Ham’s number. But, things aren’t always as they seem, as I would soon find out in this game. Also too, it was Yu Darvish’s birthday so that made the stakes even higher in this game.

The starting pitchers for this game were Ryoma Nogami for the Lions and Masaru Takeda for the Ham. If there is a light at the end of the tunnel for Seibu in regards to pitching, then they have something special in Nogami in my opinion. He really impressed me with the way he pitched and showed a lot of potential. If he can stay the proverbial course and keep making his starts, I feel he has the chance to become something really special. But for this game, he started out decent by only giving up 5 hits in 5 and 2/3 innings of work although one of those hits was a 3 run home run.

Ryota Nogami. My hope is that he one day becomes a great pitcher for Seibu.

Nogami after throwing a pitch.

Seibu’s struggling offense got off to a hot start by pounding Nippon Ham starter Masaru Takeda early on. After Takumi Kuriyama was hit by a pitch in the top of the 1st, Hiroyuki Nakajima walked to put runners on first an second for G.G. Sato who doubled to left center and put Seibu up 2-0. Following that, Kuriyama added another run in the top of the 3rd via a home run to center (which was the first of the series too) and made it 3-0 Lions. In the 6th, G.G. Sato added his third RBI of the game with another double to left center which brought Okawari-kun in all the way from 1st base to make it 4-0.

Masaru Takeda. He got hit early in the game but was saved by Inaba & Company later in the game.

Takeda again.

Be it the Miso ramen that most were eating in Sapporo Dome or the weather which was a little on the hot side, the Fighters started to heat up. In the bottom of the 6th, Eiichi Koyano smacked a 3 run home run to left center to make it 4-3 and just like that, the Fighters were back in the game. But not to be outdone, Okawari-kun hit a 2 run home run of his own in the top of the 8th to widen Seibu’s lead to 6-3 and I thought that was it. There couldn’t possibly be any way that the Ham could come back and win, could there?

Nippon Ham catcher Shinya Tsuruoka at the plate.

Now here's a face I haven't seen in quite a while. I didn't recognize Masanori Hayashi here at first because he wasn't wearing a certain black, orange, and white uniform that had a #13 on the back. Also too, he's got a goatee thing going on. Pretty hard to tell from the picture but it's there.

Hayashi on the mound. Since he's been doing pretty well for the Ham and so has Nioka (that's debatable I guess), would it be safe to say that the Ham got the better end of the trade they made in the off season with you know who?

In the bottom of the 9th, after a walk to Kensuke Tanaka, Yoshio Itoi doubled to left and that brought Atsunori Inaba to the plate, which also brought everyone in the dome to their feet as well. Inaba proceeded to please and shock the crowd by smacking a 3 run home run to right center on a well played 9 pitch at bat which tied the game at 6-6 which almost blew the top off of Sapporo Dome and silenced the visitor's cheering section.

We then went to the bottom of the 10th where Yoshiro Sato walked to get on base for the Ham. After that, Satoshi Nakajima hit a sacrifice bunt back to pitcher Chikara Onodera who tried for the out at second but was unsuccessful and that put runners on first and second. Then, after a pitching change by Seibu (Jonah Bayliss), Kensuke Tanaka eventually hit a single to first which loaded the bases and the winning run came on a wild pitch while Yoshio Itoi was batting to give Nippon Ham a walk-off victory and a sweep against the Lions.

It seems that the Seibu manages to shoot themselves in the foot one way or the other these days by either having bad pitching or a dead offense. Whatever their problem is, September is almost upon us and the "Road to Climax" will officially begin where every game will count just as much if not more because of the pennant race. I know that the Ham will be a lock for the post season this year but my main question is what about the Lions? I guess only time will tell.

Kuriyama crossing the plate after his home run in the 3rd.

Koyano crossing the plate after his home run in the 6th.

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