Thursday, March 30, 2006

Hawks-Lions semi-liveblogging

My foot hurts, so I skipped volleyball tonight and napped the evening away. I ended up waking up at 1am and couldn't get back to sleep.

This would normally suck, except that since I'm actually conscious for the Softbank Hawks - Seibu Lions game broadcast tonight, I've been treated to an absolutely fabulous pitching duel between Daisuke Matsuzaka and Tsuyoshi Wada. I really like Wada -- beyond being a pretty intelligent, cute, left-handed, and well-spoken young guy, you have to admire a pitcher who wants to face the other teams' aces.

As I write this, the score is currently 2-1 Hawks in the top of the 8th, and not for lack of trying for more runs, but the pitching has been impeccable. The only run Wada gave up in 6 innings was a home run over the center field wall to the Lions shortstop Nakajima, striking out 7 and walking 3 among 4 hits. He was relieved by Fujioka, who also is pitching pretty well.

Matsuzaka is still out there pitching in the bottom of the 8th now, having thrown 118 pitches through the first 7 innings. Ouch. Sadly, one of the runs scored against him was when he walked ex-Mariner Jolbert Cabrera with the bases loaded. And in the time it took me to write the last two paragraphs, Matsuzaka got out of the 8th inning 1-2-3, now having thrown 129 pitches total, as the bottom of the Seibu lineup comes up at the top of the 9th and tries to score some runs for him yet again. (His line for the evening: complete game, 8 IP, 129 pitches, 9 hits, 2 runs, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts) It's looking like it may be yet another one of these seasons for Matsuzaka where he's cursed by lousy run support, doesn't it?

With closer Mahara out on the mound for the Hawks, I'd normally say the game's just about over, although catcher Matoba (who has still been referred to ninety times in this broadcast as "Johjima's replacement blah blah") just barely barely missed throwing out Takaki at second off Kuriyama's bunt, and here goes another completely non-subtle bunt by Hosokawa, so one out, runners on second and third. This doesn't look good... oh WOW, he struck out Hirao. Talk about a huge strikeout. Akada's out there as the last great hope for Seibu, and... fouls one off... watches a strike go by on the outside corner... takes a ball... the announcers show a closeup on Matsuzaka in the dugout, as they say he must be thinking, "just get me a hit, dammit!"... takes a ball, slightly high... fouls off another one far into the stands... and FOOM, Akada just watches a 150km/h (about 93 mph) fastball jump by him over the plate. Game over, 2-1 Hawks, shiroboshi to Wada, kuroboshi to Matsuzaka. Tough luck, but dang, what beautiful pitching.

Game heroes are pitchers Wada and Fujioka, and... catcher Matoba, who hit the double that knocked in the Hawks' second and ultimately game-winning run. Heh. Matoba's actually pretty funny in his interview, I wonder if he feels a need to fill in for Johjima's charisma :)

(You know what's weird? Hearing them play "吠えろライオンズ", one of the Lions songs, over the loudspeaker... at the Fukuoka Dome, where the Hawks are the home team. I heard it a billion times last year watching Lions home broadcasts, but that's normal.)

Hum, the Marines-Fighters game is still going on, with the Marines up 6-3 in the 7th inning, but it's past 4am here now, so I'm hoping I can grab a few more hours of sleep before heading off to work, now.

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