Sunday, November 12, 2006

Konami Cup / Asia Series, Finals - Fighters vs. Bears

Ok, even though I can't watch this one, and Westbay's actually AT the game so he isn't broadcasting it or anything, I'm going to stay up to see what happens, follow the Gameday tickers online and translate them here. Let's go Fighters!

Also, um, I love these people, who are organizing a "please stay, Ogasawara!" signature/etc campaign. It's the exact sort of thing I'd do if I lived in Sapporo.


Huang CF Morimoto CF
Lu RF K. Tanaka 2B
Lin SS Ogasawara 1B
C.F. Chen DH Inaba RF
Shih 3B Kimoto 3B
Zheng LF Inada DH
Pan 1B Tsuruoka C
F.M. Chen C Konta LF
Chiang 2B Kaneko SS

--------------- ----------------
Hsu (2-4, 2.94) Darvish (12-5, 2.89)

I'm following the game from here and here. It's a little depressing that the Fighters don't actually have a ticker up on their own site, but oh well. If anyone's in Japan and feels like broadcasting or slingboxing the game to me, that'd be great :)

First inning, top: Huang led off the game by striking out swinging. Lu followed that by striking out swinging as well. And... Lin struck out too. Yay Darvish! He threw 14 pitches that inning.

First inning, bottom: Hichori grounded out to short. Kensuke lofted a high pitch for a pop-out to center. Ogasawara hit a hard liner up the first base line but it was snagged by Bears first baseman Pan. Hsu threw a meager 7 pitches that inning.

Second inning, top: Chin-Feng Chen struck out swinging on a low outside slider. Shih struck out swinging on a slider as well. And then for a change, Zheng grounded out to short. Man, for a minute I thought Darvish was going to strike out everyone tonight. He threw 13 pitches that inning for 27 through two.

Second inning, bottom: Inaba grounded out to second. Kimoto hit a "half liner" fly out to short. Naoto Inada got the first hit of the game when he smacked the ball down the third-base line into left field for a double! Unfortunately, Tsuruoka hit a fly ball in foul territory which was caught near first base, stranding Inada at second. Doh. Hsu threw 11 pitches that inning for a total of 18. Still no score.

Third inning, top: Pan continues the trend by striking out swinging on another slider. Feng-Min Chen hits a fly ball in foul territory on the first-base side, Ogasawara making the catch. Chiang struck out swinging. Darvish threw 11 pitches that inning for a total of 38.

Third inning, bottom: Konta grounded to short but Lin booted the ball for an error. He immediately made up for that when Kaneko grounded to short though, firing to Chiang at second and Pan at first for the double play. Hichori grounded back to the mound and that was the inning. Hsu threw 6 pitches that inning for a depressingly low 24 through three.

Fourth inning, top: Huang curbed the no-hitter thoughts with a single to left. Lu bunted him to second. Lin took a low outside 3-1 pitch and walked. Chin-Feng Chen struck out looking at a fastball right down the middle. Shih struck out swinging to end the inning, stranding Huang and Lin at second and first. Darvish has struck out 9 batters through 4 innings -- no joke -- and has thrown 56 pitches, 18 that inning. Still no score.

Fourth inning, bottom: Kensuke Tanaka hit a pop fly out to center. Ogasawara grounded out to second. Inaba also hit a pop fly to center. At least they finally made Hsu throw a couple of pitches, 14 that inning, but still a meager 38 through four. Come on, guys! There hasn't been a full count yet this game on either side.

Fifth inning, top: Zheng flies out to second. Pan hits the ball up the first-base line, where Ogasawara extracts revenge for that play in the first inning. Feng-Min Chen hit a fly ball towards first which Ogasawara caught for the third out. Darvish didn't strike out anyone that inning and he threw 14 pitches for a total of 70 through five.

Fifth inning, bottom: WOW! A FULL COUNT! Kimoto gets to a 3-2 count and hits the sixth pitch to second, grounding out. Naoto Inada, who I had originally thought about jokingly putting quotes around "DH" for, singles to center, and with that second hit is still the only Fighters batter to get a hit at all! Centerfielder Huang makes an error getting the ball in and Inada slides headfirst into second base. Tsuruoka grounds out to short, and Inada can't advance to third. Konta then strikes out swinging to end the chance. Doh.

Three notes here: 1) Hsu threw 16 pitches that inning for a total of 54 through five; 2) apparently he made a good guts pose at the end of the inning; and 3) Konta was his first strikeout victim. Hsu 1, Darvish 9. Yeeeeeah.

Sixth inning, top: Chiang flies out to left. Huang grounds out to third. Lu grounds out to second. I guess Darvish gave up on striking out everything in sight, but that was 9 pitches for the inning, 79 through six. Still no score.

My internet chose this exact moment to totally flake out on me for like fifteen minutes. It's been sporadically doing this all weekend, and it's REALLY annoying, but I have to remind myself that back in the old days, people would get together by the thousands to stand in front of mechanical scoreboards in a shop window downtown or something, and following a Japanese baseball game was absolutely unheard of. So it could be much much worse.

Sixth inning, bottom: My internet dropped JUST as I saw that Kaneko hit a single to left-center! Hichori bunted him over to second. Kensuke apparently pounded a rather nice ball way the hell out to left field but Zheng made a running catch to get it. Fortunately Hichori got back to the bag. Ogasawara was unsurprisingly intentionally walked, and unfortunately, Inaba struck out to end the inning, stranding Kaneko and Ogasawara on base. Hsu threw 16 pitches that inning for 70 through six.

Seventh inning, top: Lin struck out but the pitch got away from Tsuruoka, so it was called a passed ball and Lin got to first base safely. Fortunately then Chin-Feng Chen grounded the ball back to Darvish who threw to second to catch Lin, and Chen was out at first to complete the double play. Shih hit a fly ball to second to end the inning. Darvish threw 8 pitches that inning for 87 through seven. They have a comment here about how Chen is now 0-for-7 against the Japan teams, though he was 6-for-8 against Korea and China.

Seventh inning, bottom: Ooooh, a pitching change. James Fiore comes in for the Bears. Hsu's line: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 70 pitches. Not bad, really.

Kimoto grounded out to third, but they made an error on the play and he was safe at first. Inada, rather than getting another single, bunted Kimoto over to second. During Tsuruoka's at-bat there was a wild pitch and Kimoto advanced to third, setting the stage for Tsuruoka to get an RBI single to right! Fighters score, 1-0! I guess that pissed off Fiore because he struck out Konta and Kaneko after that, though at least Konta got up to a full count first. Fiore threw 20 pitches that inning.

Eighth inning, top: Iiyama comes in to play third for the Fighters. Zheng starts the inning off by walking. I wondered why SportsNavi was hanging, but it appears that a pitching change is in order, and Hisashi Takeda is replacing Darvish on the mound, and Satoshi Nakajima is replacing Shinya Tsuruoka at the plate. Darvish's line: 7 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 10 K, 92 pitches. HOLY CRAP!

Hisashi gets off to a good start by striking out Chung-Wei Pan. Great, my internet is flaking out again. Unfortunately, Feng-Min Chen also gets a single to right, advancing Zheng to second. Chin-Te Yu comes in to pinch run for Zheng as Chiang grounds into a 4-6-3 double play. WHEW. Hisashi threw 9 pitches that inning. Score is still 1-0 Fighters, runners stranded on first and second.

Eighth inning, bottom: Ahhh, we're back to our old tricks, of course. Hichori leads off by singling to left, and Kensuke bunts him to second. Ogasawara gets up to a full count before being unintentionally walked. Inaba struck out and Iiyama grounded out to short, first baseman Pan stretching out to get the quick throw. Fiore threw 23 pitches that inning for a total of 43 in his two innings. (That's more than Hsu threw in 4 innings, heh.)

Ninth inning, top: Micheal took the mound for the Fighters and struck out Long-Yi Huang and a pinch-hitting Hsiao-Wei Huang. Lin hit a fly ball out to second, Kensuke caught the ball, Micheal made his standard guts pose, and that was the game.

Fighters win, 1-0!

(photo from Nikkan Sports)

Of course, they won 1-0 on an unearned run. That's pretty crazy -- what a close game! You have to wonder how different it would have been if Seguignol, or maybe even Shinjo, had been able to be there.

Darvish was the game hero (and apparently the Series Hero as well).

Congratulations to both teams though, it sounds like it was a very well pitched and defended game on both sides.

Last year a total of 37k people showed up for the final game, whereas this year it was only 24k. I could guess that the extra 13k people last year could have been attributed to Lotte's Seung-Yeop Lee playing against the Lions, his former team in Korea, though it might also have just been a matter of the Marines having a larger fan base in Tokyo than the Fighters do.

Japanball article here.

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