Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Japan Series, Game 3: Liveblogging

(Edit: Coherent recap here. I'm just leaving the liveblog post up for amusement value.)

Ugh, this sucks. I have no Japanese radio feed today, nor any TV, nor much of anything. Just following Westbay's broadcast in English at Pro Yakyu Live! and Yahoo Gameday here. I took a nap from 11pm-1:30am so we'll see how long I stay up. Kanemura's NOT starting so maybe I'll actually follow the whole game.


Araki 2B Morimoto Hichori LF
Ibata SS Tanaka Kensuke 2B
Fukudome RF Ogasawara 1B
Woods 1B Seguignol DH
Morino 3B Inaba RF
Ochoa CF Shinjo CF
Tatsunami DH Inada Naoto 3B
Tanishige C Takahashi? C
Inoue LF Kaneko! SS

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Asakura (13-6, 2.79) Takeda Masaru (5-2, 2.04)

I am essentially transcribing Michael Westbay's broadcast of the chat with some extra details thrown in from Yahoo and SportsNavi and my Fighters-fandom and whatnot, but hey, I have no idea if anyone else in the world is providing an almost-realtime English gameday transcript of the Japan Series, so.

First inning, top: Araki is up to bat... lines the ball up the middle for a single. Ibata hits the ball foul in firstbase territory and Ogasawara calls for it and makes the catch. During Fukudome's AB, Araki steals second base.. and Fukudome singles to center and Araki pulls a Hichori and runs around and scores. Tyrone Woods strikes out swinging on a sinker low and away for the second out. Morino hits a long fly ball to left field and Hichori Morimoto comes in and makes the catch. Score is now 1-0 Dragons, and 13 pitches for Takeda.

First inning, bottom: Hichori leads off the second by hitting a ball up the right side past Araki. Kensuke Tanaka predictably squares to bunt and Tanishige tries to throw Hichori out at second but way too late, so now there are runners at first and second. Ogasawara stands in... by the way, it's HIS BIRTHDAY TOMORROW!!!! and he hits a double off the left-center wall!!!! YEAH! Hichori scores, Kensuke scores, and it's now 2-1 Fighters! Seguignol hits the ball over Tyrone Woods at first, Fukudome comes in and gets the ball and throws in and holds Ogasawara at third base. Inaba hits the ball to right-center and Fukudome makes the catch... Ogasawara tags up at third and SCORES! Woo! Sac fly RBI for Inaba and the score is now 3-1! Okay, Inaba was the first out, and now Shinjo comes to bat with a runner at first. Shinjo dribbles the ball up the right side, Araki throwing to Ibata for the force on Seguignol and second and then also making the relay to first base in time to get Shinjo on the double play, the first one in the Series. Score is now 3-1 Fighters! and Kenta Asakura has thrown 21 pitches in the inning.

For two random points, apparently 1) Shinjo's batting average goes up astronomically with the number of fans at the Sapporo Dome, and 2) I need to add this into my team outlooks but I was reading BBM this morning and they called Chunichi's defense not only the best in the NPB but also their absolute strongest suit. Oddly I think they came to the same conclusion I did, since they mentioned everyone on Chunichi by name except Morino and Woods. As for the Fighters, they also pretty much said the same thing I did, praising Kaneko more than the rest, also noting Ogasawara's amazing ability to stretch himself around at the corners. Anyway...

Second inning, top: Alex Ochoa comes up grounding weakly to the left side and Kaneko comes in for it and throws to first for the out. Kazuyoshi Tatsunami, current Japanese active hits leader, hits a double into the right-center gap. Tanishige strikes out and Inoue grounds out to shortstop. Score is still 3-1 and Takeda's thrown 26 pitches through two.

Second inning, bottom: Naoto Inada leads off the inning (heh heh, I DID warn everyone about the Inaba-Inada-Ibata confusion), and eventually flies out to left. Takahashi hits a pop foul towards the first-base dugout and Tanishige runs it down and makes the catch in the spacious foul territory of the Sapporo Dome, which may infact be larger than the Oakland Coliseum. And here comes Kaneko, who grounds out to first as Woods makes the play unassisted. Score is still 3-1 and 33 pitches through two for Asakura.

Third inning, top: Araki leads off the inning by striking out on a pitch in the dirt. Ibata grounds out to short, and Fukudome flies out to Shinjo and that's 36 pitches for Takeda through three, still 3-1.

Third inning, bottom: Hichori leads off the inning by striking out. Kensuke Tanaka pounds a pitch deep to left field but Inoue goes back and makes the catch at the warning track. Ogasawara gets to a full count before grounding out to second. Asakura seems to be settling down, 46 pitches through three and the score is still 3-1.

Fourth inning, top: Tyrone Woods hits a monster of a hit to left field, Hichori Morimoto coming up with it barehanded and firing it to second base to hold him to a single. Morino hits a hard grounder up the middle but Kensuke Tanaka's in position to get it and he throws the ball to Kaneko covering second, getting Woods on the force, and Kaneko fires it to first to double off Morino for the second double play of the evening and of the series. What was that about Fighters' infield defense? :) Oops... spoke too soon as Alex Ochoa grounds the ball past a diving Inada and a running Kaneko for a single to left. Tatsunami fouls off a whole bunch of pitches, before hitting a line drive to center for a base hit. Runners at first and second, two outs, Tanishige at bat... ha, after getting behind on the count 3-0 and a visit from pitching coach Mike Brown, Masaru Takeda throws three straight strikes and gets Tanishige swinging! Karaburisanshin! 57 pitches for Takeda through four.

Fourth inning, bottom: Seguignol takes a walk on five pitches while the TV coverage is still on commercial break, and manager Hiromitsu Ochiai comes out to the mound to have a chat with Asakura. Inaba grounds into a double play, Ibata to Araki to Woods, so there's two outs with Shinjo coming to the plate. Guess this means he can't GIDP again, at least.... instead, he weakly grounds to first, Tyrone Woods making the play unassisted. Still 3-1, and that's 54 pitches for Asakura through four.

It's at this point that I realize I haven't been wearing my Fighters gear and go put put on my cap and my home replica jersey :)

Fifth inning, top: Inoue gets an infield single as he grounds it off past second and Kensuke Tanaka gets the ball but not in time to throw. Araki grounds up the middle, Kaneko coming in and getting the ball left of second base, flipping it to Tanaka right ahead of a sliding Inoue (who was already going on the play), then firing to first to double Araki as well, GIDP 6-4-3! Ibata is up and... he grounds up the left middle as well, Kaneko coming in and throwing to first, stepping on second on the way in. Takeda's thrown 65 pitches through five.

Fifth inning, bottom: Inada leads off and grounds out to third. With a full count, Shinji Takahashi hits a fly ball out towards shallow left field along the line, Morino and Ibata running out for it but they don't get there and Inoue is playing too far in to get it, base hit! Kaneko pops out to right. Hichori Morimoto hits a low line drive right to Araki, who catches it for the third out. Finally, a stranded baserunner! Still 3-1, Asakura's thrown 70 pitches through five.

Sixth inning, top: Fukudome hits a chopper to second base, which flies out of Kensuke Tanaka's glove into center, where Shinjo fields it, but not before Fukudome slides into second, for what's being called a double. At this point Hillman comes out and makes a pitching change.

Masaru Takeda: 5 IP, 8 H, 1 ER, 4 K, 0 BB, 70 pitches, well, hopefully 1 ER.

Hisashi Takeda comes in to pitch and Satoshi Nakajima comes in as the catcher. Tyrone Woods takes 7 pitches to get to a full count (though it sounds like he may or may not have checked a third strike), Takeda tries to pick Fukudome off second but fails, and then STRIKES OUT WOODS yay. Morino grounds up the middle, Kensuke Tanaka fielding it and throwing to get him out at first; Fukudome moves to third base, with two outs. Alex Ochoa pops up into foul territory on the first-base side and Ogasawara makes the catch, cementing Masaru Takeda's line at 1 run. Score's still 3-1 Fighters, Hisashi Takeda throwing 11 pitches this inning.

Sixth inning, bottom: Kensuke Tanaka takes the first pitch he sees and grounds it to Tyrone Woods, who makes the unassisted play. Ogasawara takes the first pitch HE sees and grounds it up the middle, where Ibata scoops it up and fires it to first. Seguignol does NOT swing at the first pitch but instead ends up grounding out, first base to pitcher, after four pitches. Asakura got out of that inning quickly, for a total of 76 pitches after six innings. Score is still 3-1 Fighters.

Seventh inning, top: Tatsunami flies out to Shinjo-land. Tanishige also hits the ball to Shinjo-land, but for a single, Hichori Morimoto making the play in front of Shinjo. Inoue grounds to first, where Ogasawara charges inwards, gets the ball, fires it to Kaneko covering second, and then runs back to cover first and get the relay for a 3-6-3 double play! Exciting! I ♥ Ogasawara! 22 pitches for Hisashi Takeda through 2 innings and the score still at 3-1.

Seventh inning, bottom: Inaba leads off the inning by singling to center! Shinjo bunts back to the mound and runs it out, as Asakura thinks about throwing to second but gets the out at first instead (rather than pulling a Darvish). Westbay very eloquently says, "And now Inaba is standing at second next to Ibata with Inada at the plate." :) Except, umm, it appears that Tomoyuki Oda actually pinch-hit for Inada, and was intentionally walked, and then Yuuji Iiyama came in to pinch-run for Oda. Nakajima doesn't quite get himself hit with a pitch, and then strikes out eventually. Here comes Kaneko with two outs and runners on first and second... and he pops out foul, Tanishige running back to make the catch by the first-base dugout. Bleh. Okay, still 3-1 Fighters, Asakura having thrown 91 pitches through seven.

Eighth inning, top: Araki leads off the inning by grounding out to short. Ibata grounds hard down the rightfield line but Ogasawara makes a diving stop and gets up and makes the play unassisted! I love Ogasawara! And apparently we're having a pitching change now.

Hisashi Takeda's line: 2.2 IP, 1 H, 1 K, nothing else, 30 pitches.

Lefty Hideki Okajima comes in to pitch to Kosuke Fukudome (I called it in the jb.com chatroom, heh) and he STRIKES HIM OUT SWINGING ON THREE STRAIGHT PITCHES!! Nice call by Hillman bringing in Okajima and nice call by Okajima on challenging Fukudome like that!

Eighth inning, bottom: Hichori Morimoto leads off with a blooper single to shallow center. Kensuke Tanaka, who by now really must be suffering Jose Lopez syndrome, bunts him over, 1-3. Ochiai walks out to the mound slowly... and it's a pitching change.

Asakura's line for the day: 7.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R/ER, 2 K, 2 BB, 98 pitches thrown.

Masato Kobayashi takes the mound for Chunichi... AND ON HIS FIRST PITCH HE HITS OGASAWARA IN THE KNEE. THAT IS NOT COOL.

See, I was expecting Ochiai to bring in a lefty, and Kobayashi's a lefty, but he's never had much success yet at ichi-gun, though relatively nice K rates, but a whole bunch of walks and such to go with it as well. Ugh.

Well, Ogasawara gets up and walks to first and is apparently okay, whew. Atsushi Nakazato comes in to pitch for the Dragons. Kobayashi's line is 1 pitch, 1 hit batter, 1 angry Deanna.

Seguignol is up at the plate now, one out, runners at first and second, and Nakazato strikes him out on four pitches... and Ochiai-kantoku comes out to the mound AGAIN? Sheesh. Oh. No, no pitching change, Nakazato is still out there, facing Inaba.


And that is why we love you, Atsunori Inaba :)

Shinjo flies out to right field, but who cares? Score is now 6-1 Fighters and I guess that's 6 pitches for Nakazato, who's probably going to get chewed out when he gets back to the dugout.

Ninth inning, top: Unsurprisingly, closer Micheal Nakamura is on the mound for the Fighters, Hichori has shifted to center, and Toshimasa Konta is in playing left. Tyrone Woods strikes out swinging and then Morino flies out to right, with Alex Ochoa coming up, two outs, nobody on, and down five runs in the ninth.. and he pops up foul and Nakajima makes the catch AND THE FIGHTERS WIN THE GAME!!!!!

Micheal threw 8 pitches in the inning.

For his amazing plays at first base, his RBI double in the first inning which put the Fighters ahead, and for his fighting spirit shown when getting bonked by a pitch in the eighth, the game hero is Michihiro Ogasawara! YAY!

By the way, I want to take this opportunity to say 小笠原選手33歳のお誕生日おめでとうございます!!皆ファイターズファンの一番ヒーローで、ずっとずっと応援する!!明日へも頑張って!!

("Happy 33rd birthday Ogasawara! You're every Fighters fan's top hero, we'll cheer for you forever, good luck tomorrow!")

His birthday is on the 25th -- he's three days younger than Ichiro. I bet it's a big enough present to him that he'll be playing in a Japan Series on his birthday, I bet he never expected that to happen this year!

Alright, I'm going to go write a coherent game summary and then head off to sleep, as it's 5:45am.

By the way, is this a good or a bad format for people, having a liveblog post and a game summary? Should I just put one or the other up here? Is anyone besides the usual suspects reading all this?

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