Friday, September 08, 2006

Game Report: Dragons vs. Swallows - Kawakami hates Salami

Hey, don't forget that there's book club on Saturday even though I won't even be aware that it's actually Saturday at the time. Talk to Gomez though, not me, sorry.

Today I went to Nagoya, where it rained a lot. We did see Nagoya Castle, which was pretty cool, or at least cooler than Osaka Castle. Afterwards, we went to the Nagoya Dome, which was pretty cool as well, and I won't know for another two days whether or not it's cooler than the Osaka Dome.

We got tickets in the upper deck, front row, sort of out in right field but still technically not in outfield seating. It was a great view for watching but not for taking pictures -- on the other hand I'm not sure there's anywhere IN the dome that's good for pictures since they have a gigantic fence up all around the infield, and it's indoors so it's not particularly great light for far shots, either.

After a stop in the Dragons shop where I picked up a Kawakami #11 t-shirt (god, I really LOVE this shirt actually -- I can totally see myself wearing it often when I get back, if I don't gain any weight), we went into the stadium, and saw the Chunichi Dragons take on the Yakult Swallows, in what was a pretty slow and somewhat depressing game.

Since I like the Dragons and the Swallows equally, I figured I'd follow the words of a wise man who once said, "Let us root, root root for the home team," and cheered for the Dragons, and as a result, for my second straight game, the team I was cheering for lost by a score of 6 to something, due to a grand slam by the opposing team, as the Swallows won the game 6-3. Gaaahhhh.

Kenshin Kawakami was pitching for Chunichi, and he's actually a rather good pitcher -- probably one of the best in the Central League -- but he really wasn't all that good tonight. The first inning, he got himself into trouble with the bases loaded after Akinori Iwamura doubled, and he walked Ramirez and Miyade, but fortunately Tanaka popped out to end that threat.

The Dragons had one good offensive inning, really -- the first. Araki and Ibata singled, Fukudome moved along Araki with a fielder's choice, and then Tyrone Woods batted him in. Unfortunately Alex Ochoa and Masahiko Morino both ended the inning with runners on first and third.

Kawakami handled the Swallows okay in the second, but then the third... ugh. Norichika Aoki -- who I generally like a lot as well -- hit a solo home run to right field, bringing it to 1-1, which would have been okay if not for Adam Riggs following it up with a double, and then Iwamura walked. Alex Ramirez struck out, and during Ryuji Miyade's at-bat, Riggs and Iwamura pulled off a double steal (Tanishige threw to second; maybe he should have thrown to third). Miyade walked after all -- there were a lot of full counts in this game. Tanaka struck out, but with two outs and the bases loaded, Masakazu Fukukawa, who may have hit about five home runs in his entire lifetime, came up to bat, and... hit a grand slam to left field. Yeah.

I should stop and explain that the Swallows fans do this crazy ritual where they break out umbrellas, mostly green or Yakult-embossed, and do this bizarre umbrella dance, whenever a run is scored or a home run is hit or whatnot. And in the third inning, they had a lot of umbrella dancing to do.

Shiroishi grounded out after that, but the score was 5-1 when the dust settled at the end of the third inning.

The Swallows pushed ahead another run off Kawakami in the fifth, though at least it wasn't earned -- Tanaka singled, and then Fukukawa singled again, and unfortunately I didn't write down exactly what happened, but Tanaka scored off a throwing error by the left fielder during Fukukawa's single. I think. I was mostly good at keeping score, but occasionally got distracted by random things, and there's no real replay or relisting of the game events at these places.

The Dragons, who had been set down 1-2-3 in every inning after the first, finally did some stuff again in their half of the 6th. Araki led off with a single, and Ibata singled again -- good stuff always follows that sequence. Kosuke Fukudome flew out to right, and then Tyrone Woods hit into a double play, except that rather than throwing to shortstop Shiroishi covering second, Tanaka chucked the ball into left field, allowing Araki to score easily and Ibata and Woods to take an extra base (to be fair, Woods was nearly caught at third once Riggs retrieved the ball and fired it there). Ibata scored while Alex Ochoa was busy grounding out, and unfortunately Morino grounded out as well to end the inning.

No other scoring occurred in this game. Heck, aside from a Kosuke Fukudome triple in the 8th, and a sweet play by Adam Riggs which involved him stopping a grounder and then sliding into first base to make the out, and a pretty decent snag-and-spin by Tyrone Woods as well... I'm not sure anything else really happened.

(Sorry this is so incoherent, there's a guy behind me waiting to use the computer and so I'm sort of rushing through my scorecard and game notes)

Some random stuff:

They have ball girls at the Nagoya Dome, only they don't sit out by the foul lines and get stray balls -- that's handled by guys -- what the ball girls do is, they seem to serve the umpires, so to speak, bringing out new baseballs and also bringing them cups of water and whatnot, sort of like the bat boy would in most American baseball parks.

Akinori Iwamura is a really good third baseman and a really good hitter and stuff.

Masato Kobayashi is a lefty sidearmer and was thus pretty fun to watch, but unfortunately wasn't left in particularly long.

Oh, get this! I got to see Masao Kida, ex-Mariner, pitch the 7th inning for Yakult, and I got to see Shingo Takatsu, ex-WhiteSox, pitch the 9th! How neat is that? They both did really well, which would have been a lot happier for me if I had been rooting for Yakult, I'm sure. I'll have to switch sides when I'm at Meiji Jingu next week ;)

There were a lot of oldskool DDR-related songs playing at the dome for whatever reason. Offhand we noticed "Dancing All Alone", and "", and others I forgot to write down, and the kicker was that Hirokazu Ibata uses the Japanese cover of the song "Run To You", one of the oldskool Korean songs from Pump It Up (it's the one that goes "bounce with me, bounce with me!", if you play/played the game) as his at-bat intro music. The fans clap their thundersticks appropriately to the beat of it, too.

Yeah, so I had a lot of fun yelling and screaming and clapping at this game even though I didn't know any of the songs this time. I sat next to a girl who seemed pretty into baseball and she knew all of them, and so I just followed along with what she was singing a lot of the time.

For dinner, I ended up getting a burger and fries and a soft drink and it all cost 700 yen, which is actually probably much cheaper than it would at Safeco, oddly enough.

Scoring this game was a pain in the ass sort of like scoring a National League game is, because the Dragons kept putting in the pitchers and pinch hitters between the 7th and 9th spot. Also, I suck at writing certain kanji, especially names like Iwase and Tanishige.

Okay, I better go before I get kicked off here. I should be heading to Hiroshima tomorrow. Bye!

EDIT 12/1/2006> Photo set for this day is now up here!

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