Sunday, October 08, 2006

Short, Sweet, Sad, and Softbank

If you haven't already heard, Buck O'Neil died Friday night. From all accounts, he lived a long, happy, and fulfilling life, even including things like playing in a minor-league all-star game earlier this year, at the age of 94. The staggering amount of baseball history he was witness to is pretty amazing. You can read some of his history here or here.

That said, today the Yankees got knocked out of the ALDS by Jeremy Bonderman and the Tigers. I was helping some friends out with stuff, and we checked on the game, saw Posada was at-bat with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, and I said, "Oh look! It's the Yankees last and best chance, Jorge Posada!" and boom, he hit a two-run homer. I shut up, and the game ended shortly thereafter.

On the other hand, the postseason schedules will continue to be eastcoasteriffic as the Mets swept the Dodgers out of the NLDS.

The Padres did NOT get themselves swept out of the NLDS, beating the Cardinals 3-1. You have to wonder what sort of crazy day it is when the only hits the Cards manage are 2 each by Little Davey Eckstein and Ickle Ronnie Belliard, and So Taguchi is the only man on either side to hit a home run, but hey, whatever. Chris Young gets major Marinerd points for being ninety feet tall and graduating from Princeton. Anyway, the only division game on tomorrow will be the Cards-Padres, Woody Williams vs. Chris Carpenter. Not looking encouraging for the Pads, but who knows?

As I mentioned, the Seibu Lions and Softbank Hawks are playing the first stage of the Pacific League playoffs in Japan this weekend. I listened to last night's game and tonight's over internet radio, and OH MY GOD WHAT A PITCHING DUEL IT WAS YESTERDAY. Talk about the game of the year. They had the best pitcher in Japan, Kazumi Saitoh, going against the other best pitcher in Japan, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and it was, as promised, an astounding duel.

Both Saitoh and Matsuzaka went the complete game, Saitoh throwing 115 pitches in 8 innings, Matsuzaka 137 in 9. Matsuzaka didn't walk anyone, but he did HIT four batters, which was odd for him as he hit three batters ALL YEAR. Saitoh was magnificent, allowing only three baserunners in the first six innings and striking out 7 in that time. The Lions turned double plays in the first and fourth innings, and I was joking that the Hawks hadn't turned any because you can't get double plays when your pitcher doesn't let anyone get on base! Of course, then he walked Alex Cabrera, who was immediately erased when Kazuhiro Wada hit into a double play.

The 7th inning was where all the action was in the game. Matsuzaka struck out Shibahara and Tanoue to start off the top half of the inning, but Yuuichi Honda singled after that, and miracle of miracles, so did Naoki Matoba. Munenori Kawasaki was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and then Naoyuki Ohmura, who is usually good with RISP, grounded out to first, ending the inning. Doh. The Lions' heart of the order strung together three hits in the bottom of the 7th -- Hiroyuki Nakajima and Alex Cabrera singled, and then Kazuhiro Wada, undoubtedly annoyed at his earlier GIDP, hit a line drive to left field for a double, scoring Nakajima, and despite Saitoh retiring the next three batters, two on strikeouts for a total of 9 on the evening, the Hawks couldn't score anything off Matsuzaka in the 8th or 9th -- heck, he got STRONGER as the night went on, as he struck out 5 of 6 batters faced in those last two innings, for a total of 13 strikeouts for the evening. Even weirder, 9 of those strikeouts were in the last 4 innings, and the other 4 were in the first 5. Either way, it was pretty likely that whichever side could manage to scrape one run together would win, and it happened to be that the Lions won 1-0.

I'm rooting for the Hawks to win this weekend, but that's mostly because I think the Fighters will have a way easier time against them than they would the Lions. (This is based purely on the fact that the Fighters were 7-13 against the Lions this year but 12-8 against the Hawks.) Fortunately, they indulged me tonight by beating the Lions 11-3. I thought the radio announcer was literally going to explode when he was calling Nobuhiko Matsunaka and Julio Zuleta's back-to-back home runs in the 9th inning. Matsunaka had a fine game, going 3-for-5 and knocking in 5 runs. Let's hope he can get it out of his system this weekend :)

Tomorrow, Fumiya Nishiguchi, whose name cracks me up, takes the mound for Seibu. He's been good this year, but not as mind-bogglingly good as people thought he was last year. He's also been iffy against the Hawks. Fortunately for him, the Hawks have Hayato Terahara on the mound, who's got great raw talent, but is still figuring out how to be a pitcher. He's been iffy against the Lions this year, but then again, he's been iffy against everyone, and you never know if he's going to go out there and get lit up, or if he's going to go strike out 10 in 6 innings. So, it should be an interesting game if nothing else.

Something that is way freaking cool is that the Yokohama Bay Stars actually list their players' at-bat music. So I can indeed confirm all the songs I thought I heard were infact the songs I thought I heard.

And absolutely completely randomly, Bobby Valentine mentions the latest addition to the menu of the fast-food chain Lotteria -- the Bobby Burger. Oh my. It has pineapples on it.

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