Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pro Yakyu Super Summer Extravaganza Day 8: Nippon Ham vs. Seibu @ Sapporo Dome 08/15/09

Nashida kantoku and Watanabe kantoku before receiving ceremonial flowers.

Hello once again fellow Yakyu fans. Many people view the game in many different ways and feel that some things are more important than others when it comes to the game itself. I tend to think that pitching and defense are the key elements to winning a baseball game with offense coming in a close second. It takes 2 to tango so to speak and you can’t win a game by having just one or the other I feel. And that’s what’s been troubling most teams in NPB this year I feel. Let’s take my 2 favorite teams for example, which are the Yokohama BayStars and the Saitama Seibu Lions in the Central and Pacific Leagues respectively. It’s no secret that Yokohama needs pitching and needs it badly while their offense is underrated I feel. While their offense was sluggish to start the season and has been at times throughout the season, more often than not it’s been the pitching that’s been the main culprit of them losing. From the games I’ve seen from Yokohama recently (see my Hiroshima entries) they’ve had to out hit their opponents to win games and you can’t always do that. Recently, I see something similar emerging from the Lions. Their pitching has been inconsistent it seems and lately, their offense has been struggling as well. So, it came as a big surprise to me when Seibu starter Takayuki Kishi delivered a great pitching performance but the offense could not deliver which totally ruined the game for me.

Takayuki Kishi in the first inning.

Kishi in the wind up before throwing a pitch.

This was the first time in quite some time (5 months or so to be exact) that I had seen Kishi pitch in person. Kishi has really been coming into his own as a pitcher and winning the Japan Series MVP last season has only helped with his development in my opinion. Kishi started out strong by pitching no hit ball through his first 3 innings of work. He even struck out the side in the 2nd much to my delight and the dismay of the Fighters fans at Sapporo Dome. But eventually, Kishi started to wear down and by the bottom of the 8th, the Ham decided to strike.

Kensuke Tanaka started things off with a double to right center field. And after being moved over to 3rd on a sac bunt by Yoshio Itoi (isn’t it odd that Kensuke used to be the one to bunt people over and now he’s the one getting bunted over), Atsunori Inaba was intentionally walked for obvious reasons and Seibu decided to make a pitching change (Koji Onuma). After a grounder to 3rd by Shinji Takahashi lead to a force out at 3rd, Terrmel “Sledgehammer” doubled to deep center to bring in Inaba and Takahashi to make it 2-0 Ham and those were the only runs of the game.

Nippon Ham starter Shugo Fuji minus the shaggy hair.

Fuji again without his trademark hair. I'm not so sure I like the new look to be honest with you.

Kazumasa Kikuchi picked up the win in relief for the Ham while Kishi took the loss and Hisashi Takeda picked up the save for the 2nd time in as many games. Overall, a disappointing game on Seibu’s part as Nippon Ham starter Shugo “Shaggy” Fuji looked hittable but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. Well, that was 2 out of 3 done and there was only the rubber match of the series left to play. And if you thought this game was bad (which it was in my opinion), just wait until you read about the final game of this series. Thanks again for reading everyone and I hope you keep reading and supporting the game.

Oh, since it was "Visitor Cheering Day" @ Sapporo Dome, in addition to my Seibu fan club points I received, Lions mascot Leo came from Tokorozawa for this game. Here he is cleaning his shoes before the game.

One of the grounds crew taking the brush away from Leo. :(

Finally, it was Okawari-kun's birthday as well. So, Happy Birthday to Okawari-kun. Unfortunately, he didn't give us all a birthday present, and by that I mean no home run. :(

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