Sunday, October 16, 2005

Chiba Chokes, Softbank Surges

This is extremely uncool. (EDIT: At the time, the link went to the playoff recaps, which showed Lotte winning their first two and losing their second two against the Hawks. Now, it is once again cool.)

So, I watched the first hour or two of the third game of Second Stage, and it seemed to be going well. They were up 2-0 in the 4th or 5th inning when I went to sleep. Submariner Shunsuke Watanabe was pitching a hell of a game (and continued to - he came out with a line of 7 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K). Fukuura batted in two more runs on a double to make it 4-0 in the 8th.

We're three outs away from having the Marines sweep the PL Playoffs, and Masahide Kobayashi, the awesome closer, comes in. Should be in the bag, right? Wrong. First, Jolbert Cabrera gets a single. Tony Batista pinch-hits, flying out to second. Noriyoshi Ohmichi comes up and hits the ball back to Kobayashi, who apparently made a throwing error allowing Ohmichi to reach safely, and Cabrera goes to third. Ohmura hits a single, scoring Cabrera. (4-1) Kawasaki, who's been hitting well this series, gets a single, loading the bases. Arakane hits a single, scoring Ohmichi and Ohmura. (4-3) Katsuhiko Miyaji grounds out to first, advancing Kawasaki and Arakane. Two outs, first base is open, and slugger Matsunaka is up, so Bobby Valentine decides to have Kobayashi intentionally walk him and pitch to Zuleta with the bases loaded. Unfortunately, that doesn't work out so well, Kobayashi chokes and can't throw a strike, and Zuleta walks in the tying run. (4-4). Jolbert Cabrera, who led off the whole mess, grounds out to end the inning.

It was totally like the Astros-Braves game all over again. Marines can't score in the top of the 10th, and the Hawks chain together a series of hits in the bottom of the 10th, Kawasaki driving in the winning run. 5-4 Hawks.

Then, I actually figured out a nap schedule to watch the fourth game, but ended up waking up at around 5am, just in time to look up and see yet another Hawks win, 3-2. This time, Lotte had the other Kobayashi, Hiroyuki, starting for them. He pitched the whole game, going 8 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, but... 2 HR, both to Julio Zuleta. Ack. And the second one was only a 2-run homer because he'd walked Nobuhiko Matsunaka. Tsuyoshi Wada, the rookie phenom of two years ago, started the game for the Hawks, but only lasted four innings, so the win went to Shintaro Yoshitake.

Sigh. The next game is "tonight" in Japan, meaning another 2am here, and I doubt I'll get to watch this one either. I hope the Marines win, I really do.

I'm going to a friend's house later today to watch a few Tivo'ed ALCS/NLCS games. Maybe those'll cheer me up. I saw part of the CWS-ANA game on TV on Friday night while I was out, and Jon Garland pitched a heck of a game. It shouldn't be, but it is, pretty impressive that the Sox have had three consecutive complete game wins pitched - by Buehrle, Garland, and Garcia. Just think, a hundred years ago in the 1905 World Series, Christy Mathewson by himself pitched three complete game wins. In the same week (October 9, 12, and 14). And they were all SHUTOUTS. Infact, in the entire 1905 World Series, the only time either team went to the bullpen was when Red Ames pitched the last inning of Game 2 for the Giants. It's amazing how the game has changed...

Oh, yesterday I spent some time sorting my 2005 Topps baseball cards. This year I decided I wasn't getting a single pack of cards, just was going to hold out until I found the factory set. Well, had the factory set for $50, so I decided to go ahead and get them. It's always really amusing to go through an entire year's set of cards and see what's happened, but for some reason this year amused me moreso than others, for several reasons:

- The Mariners "top prospects" card features Justin Leone and King Felix
- Our "Draft Pick" cards are of Bobby Livingston, Wladimir Balentien, and Matt Rogelstad
- Our manager card is Bob Melvin
- All the series 1 cards have the Expos on them, and the series 2 cards have the Nationals, but it's the same team
- Adrian Beltre has a Dodgers card. Richie Sexson has a Mariners card.
- ...Jason Kendall has a Pirates card. A.J. Pierzynski has a Giants card. Podsednik has a Brewers card.
- They list "Boomer Wells" and "Flash Gordon" as the players' names, with no indication as to their real names.
- Lew Ford's card back info is all like "Lew is the Twins' resident nerd. He got a 1400 on his SAT's and graduated with a degree in computer science and engineering before becoming a pro baseball player." See, kids? School is cool!

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