Monday, October 30, 2006

Fighters Folio: The Spaceman Sonnet

This is a sequel to Kaneko to Kensuke to Guts. This one's about LF Hichori Morimoto, CF Tsuyoshi Shinjo, and RF Atsunori Inaba.

Yeah, this is really what I do when I'm trying to come up with things to write in the offseason (and trying to ignore Ogasawara-related hot stove gossip). I wonder if it'd be worth trying to translate these and send them to the team somehow.

Aliens In The Outfield

In outer space, in outer field, these three
Would often wear their gloves instead of caps;
The strangest of the spacemen, Hichori
From Piccolo to playoffs, manned the gaps.
The tone was set by Shinjo; he performed
Flamboyant stunts and skillful fielding plays;
To all these crazy things Inaba warmed
And in the Series set his bat ablaze.
They ran to walls, to tracks, to catch, to throw,
To bring the team a victory at last,
Their feats behind the plate would also grow,
One got on base, the other drove him past.
It ended in a leap, a hug goodbye,
From teammate shoulders, Shinjo soon would fly.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Done Playing Cards For The Year

Congratulations to the St. Louis Taguchis Cardinals, who just came home with their tenth World Series crown!

I have to admit that I didn't pay much attention to the World Series this year, due to generally being either asleep or at work while the games were being rained out going on. What I did see was:

1) Jeff Weaver pitching in the World Series and Jered Weaver sitting in the stands.
2) Jeff Weaver winning the last game of the World Series. Who'd have ever predicted that one?
3) Ickle David Eckstein got the World Series MVP! He's shorter than *I* am!
4) Mayor Sean Casey kicking butt, while the rest of the Tigers took a catnap.
5) A team that won 5 regular season games more than the Mariners won the World Series.
6) SO TAGUCHI!111!111!!!1!11!1

The latter is probably because my brain's been stuck on the other side of the Pacific for the last few months. But seriously, you've got to love the Japanese press, where the top MLB headline on Sankei Sports was カージナルス世界一に王手!田口の神技バントに運の神様降臨, or "Cardinals win World Series! Taguchi's divine bunting is like the fortune of God descending!" or something to that effect. But you see, it really was the case that Taguchi guided the Cardinals to this championship. You'll note that in the World Series, the only game they lost was the only game he didn't play in. Therefore, I nominate So Taguchi as the true World Series MVP.

On another note, you can now pre-order the BIG DREAM! Complete 2006 Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters DVD on It claims to be 5 hours long with highlights from the entire season, which should be pretty cool! I'm really looking forward to it.

(Also, I went ahead and sponsored the pages of Shinjo, Seguignol, Micheal, and Macias on Thought it was a shame they were all unloved like that.)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Friday Folio: Kaneko to Kensuke to Guts

This goes out to nanbanjin from the forums, who probably didn't realize I take dares/requests like this seriously.

(for reference: I ended up stressing the second syllable of Kaneko, which isn't really right. Kensuke is two syllables (if you've never heard it yelled, "KEN-SKAY"). "hachi" 蜂 is a bee and "tonbo" 蜻蛉 is a dragonfly and that was really just me being a total dork. The challenge was to write a poem about the Nippon Ham Fighters' double-play combo, sort of along the lines of "Tinker to Evers to Chance", so this is about shortstop Makoto Kaneko, second baseman Kensuke Tanaka, and first baseman Michihiro "Guts" Ogasawara.)

Kaneko to Kensuke to Guts

Twas forty-four years since we'd last won a series
The reason for this had eluded all theories.
This season was different; more focused, intense
We had a great weapon: our infield defense,
Kaneko, Tanaka, and Guts.

More known for his fielding instead of his bat,
Our golden glove shortstop, team leader at that.
He zips through the air like a hachi or tonbo
For turning a grounder or double-play combo
Kaneko to Kensuke to Guts.

"The other Tanaka", as we used to know him,
Can hit 'em, can bunt 'em, can field 'em and throw 'em.
One play's in the outfield away from the bags
Next instant he's back, slapping down pickoff tags
And throwing the baseball to Guts.

Then over at first base (and sometimes at third)
As lithe as a tiger and sharp as a bird,
No liner gets past him, no throw is too high,
As steady as mountains and endless as sky
Our samurai batsman, our Guts.

The squadron of Dragons prepared their attacks
But we quenched all their fires, defending the sacks.
Though baserunners happened, no runs would they get;
This talented keystone would end any threat,
Kaneko to Kensuke to Guts.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


(photo from Sankei Sports)




疲れた~ 今、寝てるところなんだ、明日書く。まだ信じられない。03年ファイターズファン始めた時から今までそんな優勝は無理だと思った。有りえないと思った。信じられない。日本一。小笠原さん、金子さん、田中たち、武田たち、ダルくん、八木くん、新庄と稀哲宇宙人、稲葉さま、ヒルマン監督、皆おめでとう!!

Japan Series, Game 5: Liveblogging

Yeah, I didn't get around to summarizing game 4 yet. After we win tonight I'll just do both of them, if I have time.

Hey, so finally hearing some of the CBC broadcast yesterday I noticed that Makoto Kaneko was using Daniel Powter's "Bad Day" as his at-bat music and as a result I found at-bat music lists for the following teams (and I'm sure I'll find the others):
Fighters, Marines, Bay Stars, Buffaloes, Lions, Hawks

The best part is that I was just listening to the song "栄光の架橋" the other day, trying to remember why it was so damn familiar, and then it was like.. "Oh yeah! Saburo!!" Also, it was finally good to find out who the pop/enka singer was who Toru Hosokawa used for his theme. I'd been searching for a while.

Great pictures from last night's game on Nikkan Sports: Shinjo hugs Kanemura, Shinjo looks angry and grinning, Okajima rules, so does Tateyama, Hichori slides in for a triple. (In other teams you can see Saitoh throwing lefty, Imaoka throwing a football, Shimoyanagi and his cute puppy, and Hamanaka being cute).

Had katsu and a dragon roll for dinner tonight. I'm set. Kawakami's going DOWN!

New lineup today! Hidenori makes the start in CF for the Dragons. It's the Darvish-Kawakami rematch! Wheeee!


Araki 2B Hichori LF
Ibata SS Kensuke 2B
Fukudome RF Ogasawara! 1B
Woods 1B Seguignol DH
Tatsunami DH Inaba RF
Dragonbutt 3B SHINJO CF
Inoue LF Inada 3B
Tanishige C Tsuruoka C
Hidenori CF Kaneko! SS

---------- ----------
Kawakami (17-7, 2.51) Darvish (12-5, 2.89)

I am essentially transcribing Michael Westbay's broadcast of the game 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 leads off, sending a broken bat towards shortstop and the baseball back to the mound, Darvish making the throw to first. Ibata singles to center, but then Fukudome grounds to short, Kaneko making the play in time to get Ibata at second and the double play at first! 0-0, no stranded runners, Darvish throwing 11 pitches through the inning. 1 hit, 0 LOB.

("These are the saddest of possible words: Kaneko, Tanaka, and Guts.")

First inning, bottom: Hichori Morimoto leads off by striking out on a pitch in the dirt, him running to first but Tanishige recovering the ball in time and firing to first to make the out. Oh, I love it when Kensuke doesn't have to bunt -- he singles to left!! Ogasawara also gets ahold of a ball and gets it into the right-center gap, Fukudome making the play and holding Tanaka at second. Seguignol gets ahold of a pitch and sends it way out to center, and both he and the fans hoped for a home run but no, Hidenori runs back to the warning track to make the catch, Kensuke Tanaka tagging up at second and running to third. Inaba, RBI machine, gets up to a full count, and then he walks! Bases loaded and heeeeeere's Shinjo! Unfortunately, Prince Shinjo strikes out for the third out. Doh.

Kensuke's stranded at third, Ogasawara at second, Inaba at first. Score is still 0-0 and Kawakami has thrown 22 pitches through the first. 2 hits, 3 LOB.

Second inning, top: Woods leads off the inning by hitting a line-drive single to right. Tatsunami goes around guessing a bit and strikes out on three straight pitches. Morino gets up to a 3-1 count before slicing a ball into left for a single, advancing Woods to second. Inoue grounds to second, and Kensuke Tanaka gets Morino on the force at second, Inoue reaching first safely and Woods advancing to third. Tanishige grounds out to third next, Naoto Inada making the play and throwing him out at first just in time.

Woods's stranded at third, Inoue at second (technically), score is still 0-0 and Darvish has thrown 27 pitches through 2. 2 hits, 2 LOB.

Second inning, bottom: Naoto Inada hits a foul ball near third base, Morino making the catch. Tsuruoka gets up to a full count before striking out swinging. Kaneko comes up and hits a long fly ball to center, Hidenori tracking it down easily for the catch.

No baserunners this inning, score is still 0-0 and Kawakami has thrown 37 pitches through 3. 0 hits/etc/etc.

Third inning, top: Hidenori leads off the inning by singling to right-center. Araki hits a sac bunt back to the mound, Darvish fielding it cleanly, Hidenori moving to second. Ibata then grounds to the right side, Kensuke Tanaka cleanly fielding the ball for the out at first, but Hidenori advances to third. Kosuke Fukudome comes to the plate and Darvish tries to just scorch him, the first two pitches coming across at 151km/h and 153km/h, eventually working up to a full count and JUST misses outside for a fourth ball, walking Fukudome. Tyrone Woods comes up and hits the ball towards left, where shortstop Kaneko comes up behind the third base position and fields the ball and fires it to second base in time to get the force on Fukudome. WHEW! Excellent glove work by Kaneko as per usual :)

Hidenori is stranded on third, Woods technically on first. 1 hit, 2 LOB. Darvish has thrown 42 pitches through three.

Third inning, bottom: Hichori leads off by hitting a high high pop ball to right, where Fukudome easily makes the catch. Kensuke Tanaka gets up to a full count before hitting a sharp liner to right but Tyrone Woods snags it, doh! Ogasawara pops out to left field, Inoue making the catch.

Another 1-2-3 inning with no baserunners, no hits, no LOB, score still 0-0, Kawakami has thrown 51 through three.

(I have become briefly distracted surfing through Hanshin's Tsuyoshi Shimoyanagi's website, mostly the part dedicated to his absolutely adorable black labrador Lager.)

Fourth inning, top: Tatsunami leads off the inning with a single through the gap towards right. Dragonbutt Morino bunts him successfully (!) to second. Inoue strikes out swinging, whoosh! ...and then Tanishige walks on four straight pitches? What? Ogasawara and Tsuruoka come out to the mound to say "Settle down, Darvish!" and then he throws two balls to Hidenori as well, and Mike Brown comes out to talk to him as well. And the next pitch misses low... seven straight balls and the next pitch misses HIGH and Hidenori walks, that's eight straight balls and the bases are loaded, two out. Uhoh. Well, Araki comes up and Darvish throws him two straight strikes. Whew! (Westbay says: "See, that's all he needed, a little pressure!" Torakichi says: "Who's under more pressure here, Darvish or Araki?") Araki hits the ball to the right side, Ogasawara runs out and makes a diving stop, gets the ball, but cannot get up in time to make the play as Araki slides head-first into first base, CRAP, okay, so all the runners advance, Tatsunami scores, that makes it 1-0 Dragons dohhhh. Ibata hits a fly ball to right and Inaba makes the catch, ending the inning.

Okay, let's see. Tanishige is stranded on third, Hidenori on second, Araki on first, and the score is now 1-0 Dragons, Darvish has thrown 70 pitches through four. 2 hits, 1 run, 3 LOB. 0 errors, although Torakichi is under the impression that Ogasawara's play should have been ruled an error.

(By the way, I just want to point out that at least Shimoyanagi has a REAL DOG unlike some people. Though I guess I promised to stop picking on Kanemura, didn't I...)

Fourth inning, bottom: Dolphins for Ogasawara, Bananas for Seguignol, and he gets up to a full count and then hits a loooooong fly ball to left field, where Inoue goes back and back and makes the catch just short of the wall. And then Inaba ALSO hits a fly ball all the way to the warning track, this time in center... a split-second earlier and that's a home run, dammit. Oh well. Shinjo comes up and grounds out to third. Geez.

That's another 1-2-3 inning, no baserunners, no hits, no LOB, score still 1-0, Kawakami has thrown 65 pitches through four.

Fifth inning, top: Fukudome hits a fly ball to short centerfield and shortstop Kaneko goes back to make the catch. And Woods strikes out swinging on three straight pitches! Tatsunami grounds out to Inaba at third.

That's a 1-2-3 inning too, no baserunners, no nothing, score still 1-0, Darvish has thrown 78 pitches through five.

Fifth inning, bottom: Well, if anyone was going to break Kawakami's streak of retired batters, it'd have to be... Naoto Inada? He hits the ball towards right field, over the infield, going back for a double! Yay! Tsuruoka bunts him over to third. Kaneko (ironically coming in to "Bad Day") pulls off a squeeze play! he lunges out to make a bunt back towards the pitcher, Inada running home, Tanishige fields the ball, Kaneko is out at first but the suicide squeeze is successful and the game is tied, 1-1! Wheeee! Hichori Morimoto strikes out to end the inning after that.

Okay, no baserunners stranded there, score is now tied 1-1, 1 hit, 1 run, 0 LOB, Kawakami has thrown 75 pitches through five.

Sixth inning, top: Dragonbutt leads off with a single, and... haha, Masahiro Kawai, the sac bunt world leader, pinch-hit to sac bunt him to second. Glad he could make an appearance. Tanishige strikes out swinging and... and... Hidenori strikes out swining too! WHEE!

Score still 1-1, Morino stranded on second, 1 hit, 1 LOB, 0 runs, Darvish has thrown 88 pitches through six.

(I'm momentarily distracted again reading this article about Kensuke Tanaka bunting. Ironically, he's leading off the next inning.)

Sixth inning, bottom: Yoshinori Ueda comes in to play left field for Chunichi after Kawai pinch-hit. Kensuke Tanaka leads off by singling to center! Yay Kensuke!!! No bunts for you!!! Ogasawara gets up to a full count (Kensuke Tanaka stole second on ball two) and grounds out to first, Tyrone Woods making the play unassisted, as Kensuke moves to third. Fernando Seguignol comes up to bat and... HAIIITTTAAAAAA well, there that ball goes flying into the right-field stands as Seguignol is beign a complete goofball running around the bases smiling, comes home and gives Kensuke Tanaka a big hug and runs into the dugout and it's one big party. Whoooosh. Game's not over, but that's HUGE incase it's not obvious, the score now at 3-1. Inaba flies out to left. Shinjo grounds up the middle and Araki has to field the high bounder behind the second-base bag and Shinjo runs himself to first before the throw comes in! Whoosh! And now.. Naoto Inada walks. Wacky. The fourth ball is Kawakami's 101th pitch of the night, and Iiyama comes in to pinch-run for Inada, but Tsuruoka pops out as Araki makes the catch.

[takes a breath] Whew. I can't wait to see the pictures of Seguignol, heh.

Alright, Shinjo was stranded on second, Iiyama on first, but with that blast by Seguignol the score is now 3-1 Fighters!. Kawakami threw 103 pitches through six. 3 hits, 2 runs, 1 home run, 2 LOB.

Seventh inning, top: Araki and Ibata both ground out to third base with Iiyama making the play in three pitches and I've lost the Yahoo feed. Fukudome strikes out on a slider. Daamn.

1-2-3 inning there and Darvish has thrown 97 pitches through seven.

Seventh inning, bottom: Masafumi Hirai is on the mound for Chunichi now.

(Kawakami's line: 6 IP, 6 H, 4 K, 2 BB, 3 ER, 1 HR, 103 pitches.)

Kaneko leads off the inning by grounding out to second. Hichori hits the ball out to right field and Fukudome plays it right and makes the catch. Kensuke Tanaka, on the other hand, singles to right. Ochiai walks out to the mound very, very slowly, and makes a pitching change.

(Hirai's line: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 9 pitches.)

Yuuichi Hisamoto comes in to pitch for the Dragons... with Ogasawara at the plate, Hisamoto throws a "wild pitch", which sounded like it was in the dirt and Tanishige didn't get ahold of it. Kensuke Tanaka rounds second, gets to third, and almost thinks about heading home on it, heh. Unfortunately, two pitches later Ogasawara gets to a full count and then strikes out. Whoosh.

Kensuke is stranded at third, so that's 1 hit, 1 LOB. Score is still 3-1 Fighters and Hisamoto threw 6 pitches total to Ogasawara.

Eighth inning, top: Woods flies out to right field where Inaba makes the catch. Tatsunami singles to right, and Hillman and Brown both come out to the mound... and Darvish is now done for the evening after a fine outing.

(Darvish's line: 7.1 IP, 8 H, 6 K, 3 BB, 1 R/ER, 106 pitches)

Morino comes to the plate and grounds to first... as Ogasawara makes the grab, touches first base, and throws to Kaneko at second to get Tatsunami as well on a 3-6 double play. HOLY CRAP.

So technically no stranded baserunners that evening, 1 hit, 0 LOB, 0 runs, crazy. Okajima threw 5 pitches.

Eighth inning, bottom: Seguignol leads off the inning by striking out. And then Inaba fouls off a whole bunch of pitches before HITTING A SOLO HOME RUN TO RIGHT!!!!!!!

Yeah, that's another pitching change. Hee.

(Hisamoto's line: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R/ER, 1 HR... 2 K, 20 pitches)

Atsushi Nakazato comes in to pitch to Shinjo, who is getting a huge standing ovation from the Sapporo Dome. Shinjo is pulling a Kiyohara, with tears flowing down his face and is probably just going to swing at anything that comes his way.... yeah, he does, strikes out swinging on three pitches in what's most likely his final at-bat in pro yakyu. Iiyama hits a pop fly to centerfield and Hidenori catches it.


Nakazato threw 6 pitches, no runners were stranded but with Inaba's homer that brings the score to 4-1 Fighters. Yeehaw.

Ninth inning, top: Micheal Nakamura takes the mound for the last three outs of the game, hopefully. Satoshi Nakajima is behind the plate, and Ex-Fighter Yoshinori Ueda is at bat. Shinjo is still crying in the outfield, heh. Ueda hits a pop fly to right field, Inaba making the catch. Tanishige grounds out to short, Kaneko making the throw to first. ATO HITORI!!!!

alex ochoa just popped out to left field, hichori morimoto making the catch and then running over to give shinjo a big hug and


(my first thought is: "I wonder where this guy is now")

I can't see any of this you know. I'm just imagining the players, the fans, the stadium, etc. I can't wait until the DVD comes out, or highlight movies online...

Hillman starts off his interview in Japanese of course with "SHINJIRARENAI" and a big "HOKKAIDO NO MINNASAN NO SEKAI DE ICHIBAN DESU!!!"

It's apparently his father's birthday, wow... his family is there.

"Glad we could give Shinjo this sendoff as a champion..." "It's a blessing to work with this organization and manage this group of men..." "We're going to rest for a few days, and then... I'm a foreign manager but I recognize the opportunity to recognize this country in the Asian games." "I can't put it into words how much we appreciate you... if not for our fans we would not be where we are now"

Inaba's the MVP of the series but I dunno how well I could transcribe this...

”気持ちいかがですか?” ”本当に最高です、皆は喝采て言う気持ちはね”
”四回の日本シリーズです、どう思います?” ”本会の本能に北海道の皆さんおかげさまです”
”ずっと新庄さんは、どんな思いますか?” ”守りに。。。” err.. he thanks Shinjo for being great and his awesome defense and it faded into mumbling a bit.
Then he says he'll do his best in the Asian Series,
his message to the fans: ”一年にはすばらしいありがとうございます、思いきて楽しんで下さい、ありがとう。”

on a fighters community I recently joined there are literally 300 posts already in the last 20 minutes of "SHINJIRARENAI" and variations, haha!

it's 6am and I really, really, really should sleep, I've been feeling pretty crappy this week. Who wants to come to Sapporo with me next year?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Japan Series, Game 4: Liveblogging

(EDIT: No summary yet because I am completely and thoroughly exhausted at 6:30am, that was a LONG game. I'll get it done sometime tomorrow, aka "later today".)

Same deal as last night: Pro Yakyu Live! and Yahoo Gameday are my sources. Satoru Kanemura's starting for the Fighters... keep in mind this is a guy who got suspended for ten days after telling off Trey Hillman for taking him out of a game after 4.2 innings when he was in a jam, denying him of his 10th win for 5 years straight. Then he was roughed up for something like five runs in four innings when pitching against a KBO instructional team last week. WHAT THE HELL, KANEMURA.

Slightly new lineups today: same for the Fighters, even with Takahashi starting, but Tatsunami moves up to 5th for the Dragons.



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

---------- ----------
Nakata (7-4, 3.91) Kanemura (9-6, 4.48)

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 starts off the game by getting into a full count and grounding out to shortstop. Ibata singles to left ("going under Inada's glove and into left field"). Fukudome swings at the first pitch he sees, sending it high into shallow left and Kaneko makes the catch. During Woods's at-bat, Ibata steals second, a strike getting away from Shinji Takahashi. Kanemura gets up to another full count on Woods, and walks him. Tatsunami hits a liner towards left but Kaneko leaps up to make the catch! Ibata is left on second, Woods on first. Score is 0-0 and Kanemura's thrown 20 pitches this inning.

First inning, bottom: Hichori Morimoto draws a walk to lead off the inning. Kensuke Tanaka bunts him to second (this time Tanishige looks at second but throws to first). Apparently this 6th sac bunt ties a record for sac bunts in a Japan Series by one player. Ogasawara walks after 9 pitches, whoosh. Here's Seguignol... who hits a long fly ball to centerfield, and Hichori tags up and runs to third as the throw comes into second. Inaba gets up to a 3-1 count (every batter except Kensuke got up to a 3-ball count) and then eventually strikes out, leaving Hichori on first and Ogasawara on third. 27 pitches for Nakata through the first inning, still 0-0.

Second inning, top: Morino grounds the ball up the middle, past a lunging Kanemura and past the middle infielders into centerfield for a single. Alex grounds to short, where he gets treated to a Kaneko-Tanaka-Ogasawara double play! Two outs. Here's Tanishige... who singles to right. I've been challenged to come up with a poem about the Fighters' double-play combo. Inoue flies out to shallow center, Kaneko making the catch. Tanishige is stranded on first, score is 0-0, Kanemura's thrown 33 pitches through two.

(Hmm... I'm thinking it'll have to be something like "Mack to Tack to Guts")

Second inning, bottom: Shinjo leads off the inning by singling to center for the first Fighters hit of the evening! Inada hits a sac bunt, nearly beating out Tanishige's throw at first. Shinji Takahashi is up and... he lines the ball right to Ibata at shortstop, and Shinjo dives back to the bag at second. Kaneko ends the inning by grounding out to second. Shinjo is stranded on second, the score is still 0-0, and Nakata's thrown 34 pitches through two.

Third inning, top: Araki leads off the inning by flying out to center. Ibata gets behind on a 0-2 count before flying out to Inaba in right. (Westbay: "Kanemura's impressive! THREE STRAIGHT STRIKES TO IBATA!") Fukudome hits a bouncing liner into centerfield for a single. Kanemura doesn't even throw a damn strike to Woods as he walks on four straight pitches, Fukudome moving to second. After throwing something like 6 straight balls, Kanemura finally throws a strike and Tatsunami flies out to center to end the threat. Fukudome is stranded on second, Woods on first, Kanemura has thrown 53 pitches.

Third inning, bottom: Hichori Morimoto lines a ball into the gap for A TRIPLE, SLIDING HEADFIRST INTO THIRD!!!!! YEEEAAAAHHHH!!!!! Kensuke Tanaka finally doesn't have to freaking bunt (I am still too amused by seeing 中田賢 pitching to 田中賢) and instead hits an RBI double to the left-center gap!!!!!!! 1-0 Fighters!!!!!! And... Ogasawara gets hit by a pitch in the leg GRRRRRR and then what the hell Seguignol ALSO gets hit by a pitch! WOW! That loads the bases and Seguignol was apparently NOT too happy about that one, as Seguignol glares at Tanishige and the umpires go lecture Nakata about it. Inaba comes up to bat with the bases loaded and no outs, gets up to a 2-2 count and then strikes out for the second time this evening (and is infact the only Fighter to strike out this evening so far). Shinjo and his dazzling smile are at the plate and they hit a smoking line drive to short which Ibata DIVES for and catches down by the ground, since the infield was playing in. wowie... gone from bases loaded no outs to bases loaded two outs, here's Naoto Inada... who STRIKES OUT LOOKING. geez.

Well, Tanaka is stranded on third, Ogasawara on second, Seguignol on first, but the score is now 1-0 Fighters as Nakata gets a miracle out of that jam, having thrown 56 pitches through three innings.

Fourth inning, top: Morino leads off the inning by grounding into Kanemura's stomach, him fortunately getting his glove in the way and making the throw to first. Alex gets up to a full count and then grounds out to short. Tanishige gets up to a full count and strikes out.. whoa! Kanemura struck someone out!!! YAY!!! No baserunners this inning and Kanemura's thrown 70 pitches through four. Still 1-0.

Fourth inning, bottom: Takahashi leads off by grounding a 2-1 pitch to short, nearly beating out the throw but not quite. Kaneko gets up to a full count before hitting a hard liner to third... unfortunately straight to Morino. Hichori Morimoto hits a long fly ball to center which Alex Ochoa catches on the warning track, and look, a 1-2-3 inning. Still 1-0 and Nakata is up to 71 pitches.

Fifth inning, top: Inoue hits the ball way to the right-field fence, Inaba playing the ball and throwing it into second but Inoue's in with a stand-up double. Araki grounds out to second after that, Inoue advancing to third after Kensuke throws the ball to first. Ibata grounds to third, Inada fielding the ball, stepping on the bag (not a forceout though) and then throwing Ibata out at first. And... and Kanemura strikes out Fukudome swinging on a forkball, ending the inning!! YYEAAHH!! (Hillman came out to the mound before Fukudome's at-bat and I was worried that there'd be a repeat of the incident from a few weeks ago, but he left him in there!) Inoue is stranded at third, the score is still 1-0 and Kanemura is up to 83 pitches through five.

Fifth inning, bottom: Alright, lefty Yuuya Ishii is up on the mound for Chunichi now with Kensuke Tanaka at the plate. (Nakata's line: 4 IP, 3 H, 1 ER/R, 3 K, 2 BB, 2 HBP, 71 pitches.) Tanaka grounds out to first base where Tyrone Woods makes the play unassisted. And the birthday boy Ogasawara HITS A DOUBLE TO LEFT OVER A JUMPING IBATA!!! Seguignol gets up to a full count and then walks. Inaba gets up to a 2-2 count and then hits the ball out to left, out to the gap, neither Inoue nor Fukudome can get to it and it becomes a TWO-RBI DOUBLE!!!! Ogasawara scores! Seguignol scores! Ochiai comes out to the mound for a pitching change. Whooooosh.

(Ishii's line: 0.1 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 0 K, and 2 R/ER)

Yoshihiro Suzuki comes in to pitch and Shinjo takes the first pitch he sees and hits it to left for a single! Jose Macias comes in to pinch-hit for Naoto Inada, taking away the Inada-Ibata-Inaba fun. With the infield playing in, Macias grounds to second... Araki fields the ball and throws it home, catching Inaba in a rundown, eventually tagging him out (in what sounds like a 4-2-5-2 sort of play). Macias gets to second in the meantime and Shinjo gets to third. Iiyama comes in as a pinch-runner for Macias. Takahashi strikes out swinging to end the inning but the score is now 3-0 Fighters!!!! Shinjo is stranded on third and Iiyama at second, Suzuki at 9 pitches at the end of the inning.

Sixth inning, top: After the long fifth-inning break for YMCA and whatnot, former Twins hurler Brad Thomas replaces Kanemura on the mound and Iiyama remains in the game at third base. Satoshi Nakajima comes in as catcher for the Fighters.

(Kanemura's line: 5 IP, 5 H, 3 K, 2 BB, 0 ER. Both of his walks were Woods.)

Tyrone Woods is at bat, hitting the ball into the left-center gap for a double, almost getting himself thrown out at second because he's so damn slow as Hichori fields the ball and fires it in. Tatsunami hits a long fly to right-center field and Inaba makes the catch at the wall, firing the ball back to the infield as the slow slow Woods doesn't try to tag up and advance. Thomas gets behind 3-0 before making it a full count on Morino, and then walks him. With runners at first and second, Alex Ochoa comes to bat and Hillman and Brown come out to talk to Thomas... oh, it's a pitching change. Ok.

(Thomas's line: 0.1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 15 pitches, I'll add if anything happens)

OH MAN, okay, so ex-Fighter Yoshinori Ueda comes in to pinch-hit for Alex Ochoa, and ex-Fighter closer Yoshinori Tateyama comes in to pitch to him. (for the record, Tateyama's first name is spelled 義紀 and Ueda is 佳範) Ueda gets ahead 3-1 in the count before hitting a long fly ball to center and Shinjo tracks down the ball and fires it in, still holding the slow Tyrone Woods at second. Motonobu Tanishige... gets... hit by a pitch in the side, ouch. That loads the bases... Inoue gets to a 1-2 count and hits a line drive that hits the right-field wall just under the foul pole, just CENTIMETERS FOUL (about 2 ball widths according to Westbay) -- good thing they have 6 umpires in these games! and then KARABURISANSHIN!!! Inoue strikes out on a sinker for the third out wasting the bases-loaded opportunity! Whew!!! Seriously, if Inoue's hit had been fair that's a game-tying triple right there. Oh man.

Okay, still 3-0. Woods stranded on third, Morino stranded at second, and Tanishige stranded at first, as Tateyama ends the inning having thrown 13 pitches.

Sixth inning, bottom: Ueda remains in the game playing centerfield as Fukudome switches to right. Makoto Kaneko leads off the inning by striking out. Hichori Morimoto singles to center! And that's it for pitcher Suzuki as Ochiai heads out to the mound.

Suzuki's line: 1 IP, 2 H, 2 K, 16 pitches.

Lefty Yuuichi Hisamoto comes in to pitch. Kensuke Tanaka bunts... except... it's a popup to third and Morino runs in and makes the catch at his feet, pulling an Imae. Unfortunately, with the count at 0-2 Ogasawara takes a pitch and Hichori Morimoto is caught stealing second, Tanishige making the throw to Ibata who makes the tagout at second. Ugh. I can't tell if Hichori was running to steal or just running on the play. Oh well. No runners stranded, still 3-0, 5 pitches that inning for Hisamoto.

Seventh inning, top: Tateyama's still on the mound as Araki walks to lead off the inning. And then Ibata singles to left and well, that's it for Tateyama, here comes the lefty relief ace Hideki Okajima to face the lefty batting ace Kosuke Fukudome, with no outs and runners at first and second.

Tateyama's line: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 K, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 21 pitches, I'll update if anyone scores.

Fukudome's up to bat... and... he watches the first two strikes go by and then unsuccessfully checks a swing to strike out swinging on three pitches! YEAH!! GO OKAJIMA! Just like last night! Okay... Woods grounds the ball back to the mound, Okajima thinking about a double play but just throws to first for the sure out, Araki and Ibata advancing. Tatsunami ends up walking after several pitches just miss the corner, so here comes Morino with another bases-loaded two-out situation. Morino grounds to the right side, Ogasawara getting the ball and throwing to Okajima covering first. Whew.

Araki was stranded at third, Ibata at second, Tatsunami at third. Score is amazingly still 3-0 Fighters, and Hideki Okajima threw 14 pitches that inning, doing a GREAT job keeping the Dragons from capitalizing on the situation he came in with (just think about that -- runners on first and second, no outs, Fukudome-Woods-Tatsunami coming up).

Seventh inning, bottom: Ogasawara flies out to Ueda in center, and then Seguignol grounds out to third (three pitches for those two outs, wow). Inaba pops out foul, Morino making the catch somewhere in Siberia. Score is still 3-0, as Hisamoto threw a scant 6 pitches that inning.

Eighth inning, top: Whoosh, Hidenori leads off the inning pinch-hitting for Ueda, and gruonds out to second. Tanishige grounds to the left side, Iiyama and Kaneko crossing paths but Kaneko making the play and throwing to first in time. Tanishige strikes out on a high fastball and man was that a quick inning. Still 3-0 Fighters and Okajima's thrown 27 pitches this outing.

Eighth inning, bottom: Hidenori stays in at centerfield and Kazuki Yoshimi comes in to pitch for Chunichi. Shinjo gets up to a full count before grounding out to the mound, and Iiyama also gets to a full count before grounding out to Ibata at shortstop. Nakajima gets hit in the arm by a pitch, ouch! Then Kaneko comes up and hits the ball to left, just out of Ibata's reach! And it's a pitching change. Whee. Oh, no it's not. Okay, rookie Atsushi Fujii came in to play left field, replacing Inoue, apparently... and with Hichori at bat, the trainers run out to second base as it appears that Nakajima's pulled a hamstring in addition to being in pain from getting hit by that pitch. Ugh, poor guy. Toshimasa Konta comes in to pinch-run. Hichori gets ahead 3-1 in the count before swinging at a low and outside pitch, coming to another full count, and walking! Bases loaded, two outs! Kensuke Tanaka comes up and for once isn't being told to bunt! Except... he hits a long fly ball to left, Fujii making the catch. Konta stranded at third, Kaneko at second, Hichori at first, still 3-0 and Yoshimi threw 24 pitches that inning.

Ninth inning, top: Closer Micheal Nakamura takes the mound for the Fighters, Konta staying in the game in left field, Hichori moving to center, and Shinya Tsuruoka in as the catcher. Araki leads off and pops the ball up along the firstbase line, Ogasawara making the catch. Ibata tries to check a third swing on an outside pitch and fails! Karaburi sanshin! And now here comes Kosuke Fukudome with two outs, ato hitori! And he grounds up to first, birthday boy Ogasawara getting the ball and running it to the bag himself and the FIGHTERS WIN THE GAME 3-0!!!

12 pitches for Micheal, one strikeout.

That's three games for the Fighters, one game for the Dragons. But don't count this series over, I still think anything could happen. Tomorrow's supposed to be the Darvish-Kawakami rematch, too, in theory.

Hmmm... I am TOTALLY zonked. Forgive me, but I don't think the game summary's gonna be up until after I take another nap.

WOW. Well, THAT is a big deal -- Kanemura was made the game hero, over Inaba or Ogasawara or Okajima. That's a big show of trust between Hillman and Kanemura and I hope this means everything really is cool between them. Also, I will now stop picking on Kanemura until next year. I promise. :)

Good night, y'all.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Japan Series, Game 3: Inaba-Ibata-Inada-gadda-da-vida

Fighters 6, Dragons 1

Satoru Kanemura was eligible to pitch in this game, and had been named as the probable starter for the Fighters, but instead, Masaru Takeda got the start against Chunichi's Kenta Asakura.

With the action moved to Sapporo, the Pacific League homeground, the game lineups featured designated hitters. The Dragons' lineup was exactly the same as in Nagoya, but with NPB active hits leader Kazuyoshi Tatsunami DHing and batting 7th. The Fighters went back to their normal lineup with Fernando Seguignol as the DH, with Michihiro Ogasawara moving back to his normal station at first base and Naoto Inada starting the game at third. Shinji Takahashi got a start behind the plate while Shinya Tsuruoka got the night off.

The Dragons got off quickly to a 1-0 start, as Masahiro Araki led off the game with a single, stole second during Kosuke Fukudome's at-bat and was subsequently driven home as Fukudome singled to center.

However, Kenta Asakura was roughed up a bit in the first inning, with Hichori Morimoto also leading off with a single. Kensuke Tanaka predictably came in to bunt him ahead, but Tanishige's throw to second base was too late to nab Hichori, so there were two batters on when Michihiro Ogasawara stepped up to the plate. Ogasawara got a nice pitch down the middle and hit it all the way back to the wall in left-center field for a double, scoring Morimoto and Tanaka. Fernando Seguignol singled to advance Ogasawara to third, allowing Atsunori Inaba to hit a long sac fly to right field, scoring Ogasawara. Shinjo grounded into a double play after that, but the score was set at 3-1 Fighters.

Asakura settled down after that and only allowed two more Fighters baserunners in the next five innings, when Seguignol walked in the 4th and was erased by a double play, and Takahashi was stranded in the 5th following a bloop single.

The Dragons managed several hits over the next few innings, but Masaru Takeda (and then Hisashi Takeda, who took over in the 6th) managed to scatter them well enough that only one Dragons runner reached third base for the rest of the night.

Fielding played a large factor in tonight's game, notably that the Dragons turned two double plays and the Fighters turned three, including an impressive 3-6-3 play where Ogasawara charged in for a grounder, threw it to second and ran back in time for the relay at first. Also, the enormous foul territory in the Sapporo Dome played a part as five outs were made by catching pop flies near the dugouts.

The Fighters didn't capitalize on a one-out two-runner opportunity in the seventh, but in the eighth, amidst several pitching changes by Ochiai-kantoku, they managed to score three runs, each charged to a different pitcher. Hichori Morimoto led off the inning with a blooper single and was bunted over, at which point Asakura was pulled for Masato Kobayashi, a lefty, who hit Ogasawara in the knee with his first pitch. Kobayashi was then pulled for Atsushi Nakazato, who struck out Seguignol, but then Inaba came to the plate and took the first pitch he saw and launched it into the second row of seats in straightaway centerfield for a 3-run home run.

Asakura was ultimately on the hook for four runs over a 98-pitch, 7.1-inning ordeal; Kobayashi was on the hook for plunking Ogasawara and the resulting run, and Nakazato for Inaba's homer.

Trey Hillman kept reliever Hisashi Takeda in for almost 3 innings, having lefty Hideki Okajima come in to face Fukudome at the end of the 8th inning, striking him out on three straight pitches. Micheal Nakamura still came out to finish out the game, despite Inaba's blast making the lead too large for a save opportunity. It took 8 pitches to end it as the Fighters won 6-1, bringing them ahead two games to one in the series now. Masaru Takeda was credited with the win.

For his amazing plays at first base, his RBI double in the first inning which put the Fighters ahead, and for scoring a second run later on, the game hero was Michihiro Ogasawara. Ogasawara's 33rd birthday is tomorrow -- what a great present for him, getting to play in a Nippon Series as well as coming home with a game hero award!

Tune in tomorrow night as the Fighters rock the Sapporo Dome again... or not, as the expected starters are Satoru Kanemura and Kenichi Nakata, though of course we won't know for sure until about ten minutes before the game starts. How Kanemura performs tomorrow may very well set the pace for the rest of the series.

(This is a reposting of the game summary I wrote for Original game 3 live-blogging transcript is here.)

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

---------- ----------
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 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?

Monday, October 23, 2006

And the 2006 Sawamura Award Winner is...

...exactly who it should be: Kazumi Saitoh, of course.

With Toshiya Sugiuchi winning it last year, that makes it two consecutive years for Hawks pitchers and three out of four if you count 2003 when Saitoh tied with Kei Igawa for the award.

(The Sawamura award is essentially the Japanese version of the Cy Young, named after the legendary pitcher Eiji Sawamura who died in combat in World War 2.)

Realistically, there was no reasonable way it should have gone to anyone else and I was delighted to hear it was a unanimous choice. (So was Saitoh, it appears.) I think the only other pitchers who were anywhere near fulfilling the standards for the award were Chunichi's Kenshin Kawakami and Seibu's You-Know-Who (if Kei Igawa hadn't been so inconsistent early on, he might have been in the running too), and Saitoh was just plain better than both of them, with his unreal 1.75 ERA in 201 IP, 205 strikeouts, and 18 wins, good enough for the PL pitching triple crown as well.

In addition to the picture of a delighted Saitoh at the Hawks workout camp currently going on, I also saw that Kenji Johjima came by to visit his old teammates.

In other random news of pitchers, Jamie Moyer signed a 2-year extension with the Phillies for $10.5 million. Now, I like Jamie and all, and I think he'll be a great influence on guys like Cole Hamels. I'd like to think he'll actually still be effective through his age 45 season just because that'd be just plain COOL. But if not, isn't that an awful lot to be paying for a pitching coach veteran influence?

And completely randomly, I found a page with all the NPB draft picks back to 1965 and I've been looking through them with morbid fascination. You have to wonder what sort of lousy luck the Fighters had to not only lose out to Seibu on the 1998 draft lottery for You-Know-Who but to end up with Kazunari Sanematsu as a #1 pick instead. (Really... I don't hate Sanematsu, I swear, but the best thing he ever did for the Fighters was bringing us Hideki Okajima in a trade this spring.)

I'm planning to stay up liveblogging the Japan Series again tonight. It's neat that both the World Series and the Japan Series are tied at 1-1, I think.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Japan Series, Game 2: Small Ball, Long Ball

Fighters 5, Dragons 2

Today's matchup featured Chunichi's elder lefty Masa Yamamoto, who's had somewhat tough luck in his postseason appearances, against the Fighters' rookie lefty Tomoya Yagi, who's had blessed good luck recently.

It also featured an umpire who apparently was a little bit fuzzy on exactly how wide home plate was, as both pitchers ended up with a lot of full counts on ball threes that they thought were strike threes.

The Fighters drew first blood today as Hichori Morimoto led off with a single and was bunted over by Kensuke Tanaka. Michihiro Ogasawara struck out, but then Fernando Seguignol, who was the first beneficiary of one of those not-a-strike pitches, bounced the ball towards short, and Ibata didn't make a clean stop on the ball and it got past him, bouncing off his glove; by the time he recovered it and threw home, Hichori had beaten it there and was safe. 1-0!

Ibata, undoubtedly unhappy with that result, worked his way into a full count and then hit a line drive into the first row of the left-field seats, tying the game at 1-1.

Things settled down for the next few innings, with both sides' batters trying to work high pitch counts, mostly by fouling off a ton of pitches, an abnormally high number of which resulted in pop foul outs to the catcher.

Kosuke Fukudome got his first hit of the postseason in dramatic fashion, leading off the bottom of the fourth inning by hitting a home run into the rightfield stands, bringing the score to 2-1.

Yagi saved himself another run in the bottom of the fifth with smart fielding; unlike Darvish's play the day before, Yagi fielded Yamamoto's bunt by heading off Inoue at third, rather than getting the easy play at first. There were several smart fielding plays in this game in general; Makoto Kaneko made one in the seventh as well to catch Tanishige at second. Seguignol and Woods both had their moments of fielding excellence, diving to snag hard grounders down the first-base line.

In the top of the seventh inning, Atsunori Inaba reached base on an error as he hit a short chopper that Motonobu Tanishige misplayed, throwing to first and actually hitting Inaba in the process. Shinjo followed that with a single to right, which advanced Inaba to third. Though Shinya Tsuruoka struck out after that, Shinjo "stole" second on strike three, Yamamoto's 100th pitch of the night, with no throw to attempt to get him out. Makoto Kaneko came up to bat with runners on second and third with two outs, and though they probably didn't expect it out of a guy who usually occupies the nine-spot in a lineup, he singled to center, easily scoring Inaba, and then Shinjo also ran home, tumbling around Tanishige blocking the plate and tagging it with his hand to score as well! Masa Yamamoto, who probably thinks he's cursed by now, was pulled from the game at that point with the Fighters holding a 3-2 lead. Masafumi Hirai finished out the inning by striking out a pinch-hitting Shinji Takahashi.

Shinya Okamoto came in to pitch the eighth inning for the Dragons, and just like the first inning, Hichori Morimoto singled and Kensuke Tanaka bunted him over. Tyrone Woods chose this moment to make his stellar play on an Ogasawara liner, and that brought up Seguignol, who quickly got ahead in the count with three balls and no strikes. It seemed likely that he would be walked, but then after he got one strike on him, he hammered the next pitch and watched it fly into the stands in centerfield for a 2-run homer, taking the score to 5-2, and taking Okamoto out of the game.

Hisashi Takeda pitched the 7th and 8th innings for the Fighters, and while he did allow a runner as far as third base in the 7th, he was lights-out in the 8th, striking out Fukudome and Woods in succession. This set the stage for Micheal Nakamura to come in for the ninth inning, where he took 16 pitches to retire Morino, Ochoa, and Inoue to finish the game with the Fighters winning 5-2.

Both of the Dragons runs were scored on solo home runs.

Trey Hillman sounded happy in the post-game interview, very excited that he wouldn't have to head back to Sapporo down two games, and was pleased that the team bounced back from last night's loss.

Makoto Kaneko was the game hero for the Fighters with his timely 2-run RBI single which put them ahead, and his clever glove work at shortstop.

The 1-1 series now moves to Hokkaido, with the next game on Tuesday night at 6pm at the Sapporo Dome. Likely starters are Satoru Kanemura for the Fighters and Kenta Asakura for the Dragons, though in true Central League style, we won't know for sure until about ten minutes before the game actually starts.

(This is a reposting of the game summary I wrote for Original game 2 live-blogging transcript is here.)

Japan Series, Game 2: Liveblogging

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

Alright, I slept until like 3:30pm today, so I ought to be up all night for sure this time.

I'm going to be in the chatroom along with Michael Westbay. He'll be broadcasting the game in English at Pro Yakyu Live! (and I'll still be following it in Japanese over CBC and also on Yahoo Gameday here).

If you also want to sing along to the Fighters cheer songs, they've put up all the oendan stuff on their official site here!! Though you can find the extra fanfares and whatnot here as well.

By the way, before we get to the lineups, I just wanted to post a few pictures.

This one is mine: Guess what? Dragonbutt.

These are all from Nikkan Sports:
Ogasawara slides into first base headfirst. Gave me a heart attack!
Glovehead Conference in the outfield during Game 1. Inaba seems outnumbered by weirdoes Shinjo and Hichori. Same shot, one month earlier.
Hichori in green doing pregame warmup dances.
Funny picture of Shinjo.
Macias being funny: one two three (the Darvish shirt is hilarious)
Hillman abuses Kawashima... now we know why the rookies do so well for him :)


Hichori LF Araki 2B
Kensuke 2B Ibata SS
Ogasawara 3B Fukudome RF
Seguignol 1B Woods 1B
Inaba RF Morino 3B
Tsuruoka C Inoue LF
Kaneko! SS Tanishige C
Yagi P Yamamoto P

---------- ----------
Yagi (12-8, 2.48) Yamamoto (11-7, 3.32)

Man, I'm missing out. Kazuhiro Kiyohara is doing color on the TV broadcast :(

First inning, top: Hichori Morimoto hits a ball up the middle into center for a single, and Kensuke Tanaka successfully bunts him to second. Ogasawara gets to a 2-2 count and strikes out swinging on a slider arrrrgghh. Two out, Hichori on second. Seguignol fouls off a bunch of pitches and Tanishige starts walking off the field on a 2-2 pitch, only it's called ball three (a little high and inside), and then the next pitch is a one-bouncer towards short, and Ibata gets it, only he doesn't -- he touches it with his glove and it gets away from him, and by the time he DOES control it, Hichori Morimoto has rounded third and headed home and is ahead of the throw in and SAFE!!!!! 1-0 Fighters, on what is ruled an infield hit for Seguignol (not an error?). Yay!! Inaba flies out to right. Score is 1-0 Fighters and Yamamoto threw 20 pitches in that inning.

First inning, bottom: Araki flies out to shallow right field (Kensuke Tanaka makes the catch). Ibata comes up, gets up to a full count and then LINES A BALL INTO THE FIRST ROW OF THE LEFTFIELD SEATS ARRRRRGGGHHHHH. bleh. ok, well, home run Ibata, and now the score is 1-1... Fukudome comes up and hits a long fly ball to centerfield, which Shinjo snags (and it's described as "an unecessary jumping catch" by Westbay). Tyrone Woods is up, bleh, and also gets up to a full count before Yagi throws a ball on the outside corner and Woods checks a swing, the appeal to the first base umpire says he didn't go, so it's a walk. Yagi was apparently already getting ready to head to the dugout. But it's okay as Morino grounds to Kaneko, who flips the ball to Kensuke Tanaka at second for the force out on Woods, ending the inning. Score is tied at 1-1 now and Yagi threw 24 pitches this inning.

Second inning, top: Shinjo pops up the first pitch he sees into foul territory behind the plate and Tanishige makes an easy catch. Tsuruoka hits the ball very high and very deep to left field but Inoue makes the catch at the warning track. Makoto Kaneko fouls off a bunch of pitches before finally fouling one that Tanishige can catch, ending the inning. Score still 1-1, Yamamoto has thrown 28 pitches through two.

Second inning, bottom: Alex Ochoa takes the first pitch and grounds it to Kaneko, who throws to first for the out. And Inoue takes the first pitch HE sees and pops it up foul behind the plate, Tsuruoka making the catch. Two pitches, two outs. Tanishige takes two pitches on the outside before getting a piece of another one, hitting to Kaneko who makes the throw to first a little high, but fortunately Seguignol is about half a foot taller than Ogasawara, and he jumps to get the ball and lands on the bag in time. Yagi is up to 29 pitches, having only thrown 5 this inning. Still 1-1.

Third inning, top: Yagi leads off the inning by flying out to right. Hichori Morimoto is up next and strikes out and then Kensuke Tanaka grounds out to first and nothing really happened and it's 37 pitches for Yamamoto, who's throwing Jamie Moyer crap but doing really well with it.

Third inning, bottom: Yamamoto strikes out to lead off the inning, and here's Araki, gets to an 0-2 count and then grounds the ball towards third, where Ogasawara charges in and gets the ball and throws it to first for the out. Ibata also hits to the left side, and this time it's Kaneko getting the ball and firing to first for the out, another short inning. 41 pitches for Yagi now through three, still 1-1.

Fourth inning, top: Ogasawara pops out to short, and here's Seguignol... who fouls off the first couple of pitches, ignores a few pitches in the dirt, then eventually grounds up the middle and Ibata gets it and throws him out at first. Inaba watches a strike go by on the outside corner and then hits a foul up towards third which Morino catches. Still 1-1, Yamamoto up to 49 pitches through four.

Fourth inning, bottom: Uh, Fukudome leads off by hitting the ball into the rightfield stands GODDAMNIT. Well, I guess that's one way to break his hitless postseason streak, ugh. okay, 2-1 Dragons. Woods anticlimactically grounds out to Kaneko after that. Morino hits a long liner to right but Inaba catches it. Alex grounds hard up to first, and Seguignol makes a diving stop of the ball and throws to Yagi covering first for the out, on what sounded like a very nice play. 53 pitches for Yagi through four, but the score is now 2-1 Dragons after Fukudome's home run.

Fifth inning, top: Yay, Shinjo hits the ball into left-center and gets a single! Tsuruoka predictably bunts him to second. Makoto Kaneko literally fouls off six pitches for a total of ten pitches in an at-bat, including nearly decapitating Morino with a liner foul, and eventually hits a long fly ball out to center field. Alex Ochoa runs back and makes an over-the-shoulder catch, but Shinjo tags up and takes off for third safely, as Yagi comes up to the plate. Yagi takes some good swings and gets ahold of several balls, fouling off a bunch before finally hitting one to shallow center. Fukudome and Alex both come in for it, Fukudome ducking at the last minute and letting Alex make the catch, so that's three outs. 70 pitches for Yamamoto through five, and still 2-1 Dragons.

Fifth inning, bottom: Inoue singles up the middle to lead off the inning, and Tanishige singles to left. This is bad. Yamamoto squares to bunt... and Yagi gets the ball and FIRES to third and Ogasawara makes the play in time to get Inoue!!! YEAH!!!! Bunt fails! One out, runners on first and second, Araki at bat. Araki gets up to a full count as Yagi throws to the same corner that everyone's noticing the umpire keeps calling a strike a ball and then Araki hits the ball out foul to right field, Inaba making the catch. Two outs, still runners on first and second. Ibata takes a billion years on his at-bat, as Yagi gets called on those non-strikes again and it gets worked up to a full count through a bunch of fouls. On the tenth pitch Ibata hits a loooong liner to left field and Hichori Morimoto comes in for the catch! Thank god! 75 pitches for Yagi through five innings, and it's still 2-1.

Sixth inning, top: Hichori Morimoto grounds to short, where Ibata stops it with his bare hand and then throws it to first to get him out on a nice throw (hopefully his hand is okay). Kensuke Tanaka grounds out to first. Ogasawara goes from being down 0-2 to a full count and then hits the ball all the way out to the warning track in right-center but it's caught. ("That would have been a home run in Sapporo!") Still 2-1, 81 pitches through six for Yamamoto.

Sixth inning, bottom: My attention span has started to wane as I get used to the taste of Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper, I think, and I didn't even really notice as Fukudome grounded out to second. Tyrone Woods actually strikes out swinging! Whee! And then Morino eats a steady diet of sliders to also strike out! Wheeee! Yagi's up to 86 pitches through six. Still 2-1.

Seventh inning, top: Seguignol breaks his bat grounding out to short to lead off the inning. Inaba comes up and... uhh... alright, so it sounds like Inaba hit a short chopper and Tanishige took it and threw to first but his throw was off and it hit Inaba, knocking his helmet off, and thus Inaba reached base on an error. And then Shinjo hits a blooper into right field and Inaba runs all the way to third!! Okay, runners on the corners with Tsuruoka at the plate. Just like every other batter in this sort of situation, Tsuruoka works his way up to a full count, fouls off a few, and eventually strikes out on what should have been ball four outside, Shinjo running to second, no throw to get him, Yamamoto's 100th pitch of the night. Kaneko's up with runners at second and third with two outs. Aaaaand Kaneko takes a pitch down the middle and hits it into center for a single!!!!! Inaba singles easily and Shinjo runs in behind him too, Tanishige blocking the plate but Shinjo slides (or somersaults or something) around him and touches home plate with his hand and is SAFE!!!!! 3-2 Fighters! And NOW Ochiai comes out and pulls Yamamoto and gets Masafumi Hirai. 104 pitches for Yamamoto and Shinji Takahashi is pinch-hitting for Yagi, and he strikes out. Whoosh.

Well. It's now 3-2 Fighters. Let me pull up Yagi and Yamamoto's lines as both of them are out of the game:

Yagi: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 K, 1 BB, 2 HR, 86 pitches
Yamamoto: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R (1 ER), 3 K, 0 BB, 104 pitches

Seventh inning, bottom: Hisashi Takeda is in on the mound for the Fighters and Satoshi Nakajima is catching and Alex Ochoa singles to center. Inoue tries to bunt him ahead but fouls out to the catcher :) Tanishige comes up and singles to right as Alex moves to second base and here comes Tatsunami to pinch-hit for Hirai... and he grounds to Kaneko, who makes a great play to get Tanishige on the force at second. With runners at first and third, ex-Fighter Hiroshi Narahara comes in to pinch-run for Tatsunami, but then Araki grounds back to the mound and Takeda makes the play. Whew. Still 3-2 Fighters. 14 pitches for Takeda in that inning.

Eighth inning, top: Okamoto comes in to pitch for the Dragons. (Hirai's line is that he threw 5 pitches to strike out one guy.) Hichori Morimoto hits one into right field for a single, and predictably Kensuke Tanaka comes up bunting. For whatever reason it takes him like five minutes of an at-bat to actually pull off the okuribunt. Okay, Ogasawara up, one out, runner on second... and Ogasawara pounds a scorching liner down the right-field line and Tyrone Woods DIVES TO GET IT WHEN THE HELL DID HE LEARN TO FIELD? throws to Okamoto covering first for the out as Hichori moves to third base. Seguignol gets ahead in the count 3-0, and just as people are in the chat room going "oh just walk him and work on the next guy" he gets a strike on him... and then takes the NEXT pitch and LAUNCHES IT INTO THE STANDS IN CENTER. I wonder if the Fighters fan from Nagoya I met at the Osaka Dome is there holding up his Panama flag :) ("Panama -- that's Spanish for 'country with big powerful switch-hitters', right?") Anyway, whoosh, Seguignol's 2-run homer brings the score to 5-2. And it's almost anticlimactic but Inaba singles to left, and Okamoto is sent to the showers.

Okamoto's line: 0.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 HR, 0 K, 0 BB, 24 pitches.

Yoshihiro Suzuki comes in to replace Okamoto, pitching to Shinjo with Inaba the runner on first, two out. Shinjo pops out to second ending the inning, but the score is now 5-2 Fighters!

Eighth inning, bottom: Ibata hits the ball towards third but Ogasawara snags it and gets the out at first. Fukudome strikes out and Woods ALSO strikes out and wheeeee. 30 pitches for Takeda through two innings, still 5-2 Fighters.

(the rest of Takeda's line: 2 hits, 2 strikeouts, that's it)

Ninth inning, top: Suzuki is still on the mound for Chunichi, and Nakajima comes up and leads off the inning with a single to right. Kaneko bunts him to second (wow), and now Suzuki is taken out -- Yuuichi Hisamoto will come in to pitch for Chunichi, and Tomoyuki Oda pinch-hits in the pitcher's spot... er... no, Jose Macias pinch-hits in the 9th spot and grounds out. Hichori Morimoto walks, and Kensuke Tanaka is up with runners at first and second with two outs, and after fouling off a few pitches he swings and strikes out. It's still 5-2 as we go into the final inning half.

Ninth inning, bottom: Yaaay, Micheal Nakamura is in to pitch for the Fighters. Morino at bat. Morino grounds up to first, where Ogasawara gets the ball and throws it to Micheal covering first. (Iiyama is playing third.) Alex Ochoa flies out to left field, and Inoue STRIKES OUT AND THE FIGHTERS WIN THE GAME!!!!!!!!!!!

okay, it's 6:08am. Yow.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Japan Series, Game 1: Settle Down, Darvish!

Dragons 4, Fighters 2

As tonight's game was starting, everyone undoubtedly had one question going through their head, depending on which team they favor; whether Chunichi's Kenshin Kawakami was going to be an ace or a joker; and whether Nippon Ham's 20-year-old Yu Darvish would hold up to the pressure.

At first, it seemed like Evil Kawakami had shown up and Good Darvish, as Kawakami took 24 pitches in the first inning to retire the side, with a bunch of full counts and a walk, and then Darvish only took 10 pitches to retire three Dragons, even getting Kosuke Fukudome to strike out on three pitches straight and breaking Araki and Ibata's bats.

But the tides reversed in the bottom of the second. Tyrone Woods walked, and Masahiko Morino hit a double to center, advancing Woods to third. Kazuki Inoue was intentionally walked, loading the bases for Motonobu Tanishige, who ripped the ball up the middle for a timely single as Woods and Morino scored, making it 2-0 Dragons. Kawakami bunted the runners over, and Masahiro Araki also walked. Hirokazu Ibata came up to bat with the bases loaded; Darvish got ahead of him two strikes to none, but then fell behind to a full count before Ibata grounded out to first. Darvish needed 34 pitches to get through that inning alone.

The Fighters struck back against Evil Kawakami in the top of the third, though, Hichori Morimoto hitting the first pitch he saw for a single to right, and Kensuke Tanaka bunting him over to second. Michihiro Ogasawara, who's been walked almost every time he's come to bat with guys on base in the last month, walked yet again, so when Fernando Seguignol singled to right, Hichori was able to score, making it 2-1. Atsunori Inaba walked as well, loading the bases. Tsuyoshi Shinjo, with a flair for the dramatic, fouled off a whole bunch of pitches before ultimately hitting a sacrifice fly to left, scoring Ogasawara, bringing it to a tie game at 2-2, as Tsuruoka lined out to end the inning.

It didn't remain tied for long. Fukudome struck out again to lead off the bottom of the third, but then Woods singled to left. Morino grounded back to the mound, and Darvish fielded the ball, hesitated, looked at first, looked at second, and both runners were safe as he didn't throw anywhere. Alex Ochoa grounded out to the mound for real, as Woods and Morino advanced. Inoue hit a single to left. Woods scored easily from third, and Morino also made a break for it, but was thrown out at the plate for the third out of the inning, but Woods's run counted, so the score was 3-2.

At this point, Good Kawakami suddenly came out and disposed of Evil Kawakami, and the rest of the game was pretty much in the bag. The Fighters spent most of the fourth and fifth innings striking out; in the sixth, Shinjo hit a double off the right-field wall, but was ultimately stranded. The seventh inning saw a fruitless pinch-hitting appearance from Tomochika Tsuboi, and the eighth saw Inaba get a two-out single, which was cancelled shortly afterwards by what sounded like a 5-6-4 leaping spinning glove job by Morino to get the force out at second, confusing everyone in the chatroom between the names Inaba and Ibata. (Just be glad we didn't have Inada playing today too!)

Despite some low points like walking Kawakami and hitting Ibata in the fourth, Darvish handled the Dragons through six innings. Hisashi Takeda came in for the seventh for a 1-2-3 inning, but then ran into some problems in the bottom of the inning, walking Tyrone Woods, who was bunted over and then pinch-run for. Takeda then did a poor Yagi imitation and booted the ball on a pickoff attempt at second, which resulted in a pinch-running Hidenori at third base. Alex Ochoa hit a double off the left field wall, scoring Hidenori and bringing the score to 4-2 Dragons. Hideki Okajima came in for the Fighters at that point; he walked Inoue, and Tanishige sac bunted, and then Kazuyoshi Tatsunami came in to a standing ovation to pinch-hit for Kawakami, and flew out to Morimoto in left.

Chunichi closer Iwase came in and dealt with Jose Macias and Makoto Kaneko pretty quickly, and with a dome echoing with chants of "Ato hitori!" from the Dragons fans, a pinch-hitting Yukio Tanaka, getting his first ever Nippon Series at-bat after being on the Fighters for 21 years, who played in his first pro game two months before Yu Darvish was born... grounded out to shortstop for the third out, and that was it.

The TV broadcast pointed out that since 2001, the team that won game 1 of the Nippon Series had won the whole thing, so apparently this means the Dragons are pretty set. Ochiai was more like, "hey, we've got to win three more," in his interview, and I tuned out before Kawakami started his hero interview.

Tomorrow night they play a second game in Nagoya, where the Fighters should be pitting young lefty Tomoya Yagi against the Dragons' old lefty Masa Yamamoto. Who will ultimately end up walking more this series, Ogasawara or Woods? Tune in to find out!

(This is a reposting of the game summary I wrote for Original game 1 live-blogging transcript is here.)

Japan Series, Game 1: Semi-liveblogging

(EDIT: Coherent recap here. I'm leaving up the liveblog post just because it's amusing.)

Hi guys!

I don't have a live videofeed of this game. I'm listening to it over the radio (my Chunichi-Dragons-fan friend in Gifu plugged his stereo into the computer and is shoutcasting it).

I'm going to try to liveblog a little, but more likely I will either fall asleep and/or give up than actually accurately make it through the whole game. If anyone knows where I can find a videofeed over the net I'd be overjoyed, but...

Anyway, it's Darvish vs. Kawakami. Takuro Ishii is doing color commentary on the radio. It's cool. Game's about to start... and I *totally* called this lineup.


Hichori LF Araki 2B
Kensuke 2B Ibata SS
Ogasawara 3B Fukudome RF
Seguignol 1B Woods 1B
Inaba RF Morino 3B
Tsuruoka C Inoue LF
Kaneko! SS Tanishige C
Darvish P Kawakami P

---------- ----------
Darvish (12-5, 2.89) Kawakami (17-7, 2.51)

First inning, top: Hichori Morimoto strikes out swinging (go figure). Kensuke Tanaka pulls off a dragbunt up the right side and gets on base, and during Ogasawara's at-bat he STEALS SECOND!! woo! Ogasawara gets up to a full count and then walks. Seguignol... strikes out swinging DOH. Inaba's up, gets up to a full count as well, then grounds to third, where the ball almost hits Kensuke Tanaka in the head, and Morino also almost hits him in the head but tags him out on the force at third. Inning ends at 0-0. Kawakami is up to 24 pitches through one inning. Ouch.

First inning, bottom: Araki flies out to left on a broken bat... and then I can hear the opening strains of DJ OZMA's "アゲ♂アゲ♂EVERY☆騎士" as Ibata comes up, heh heh. Ibata also breaks his bat, grounding out to the pitcher! Darvish seems to be throwing around 145-150km/h, dang. And then Fukudome... HOLY CRAP DARVISH JUST STRUCK HIM OUT ON THREE PITCHES STRAIGHT! WOW! Darvish is up to 10 pitches on a 1-2-3 inning. Still 0-0.

Second inning, top: Uhhh.. if Good Kawakami is there today, now would be a good time for him to make an appearance, as he just hit Shinjo with a pitch. Tsuruoka sac bunts Shinjo to second. Then Kaneko is up and... pops up to second, and Darvish is up to bat! And Darvish strikes out... ah well, that's not entirely unexpected being a PL pitcher. Still 0-0. Kawakami is up to 39 pitches.

Second inning, bottom: Tyrone Woods! TIE-EE-RONE! This is the matchup I'm sure everyone's been waiting for, the little boy against the big hitting monster. And Darvish is just like "ah, screw you, I'm just going to throw 150km/h at you too, ok?" Except uh... he isn't really throwing it anywhere near him, so Mr. Big Scary Tyrone Monster Woods walks on five pitches. Here's Morino, who was saying he was "pretty freaked out" before the game started... and I see "OMGOMGOMGOMG" on AIM, and a second later hear the crowd and the announcer go crazy on the radio as Morino doubles to center and advances Woods to third as well. Yow. Ok, here's Alex Ochoa... who takes a bazillion pitches to finally strike out semi-swinging. They intentionally walk Inoue to load the bases, one out, and here's Tanishige. shige shige tanishige... speaking of shige, I saw what looked like an autobiography by Shigetoshi Hasegawa at Kinokuniya today, heh. .. and.. goddamnit. ok, Tanishige smacks the ball up the middle for a single and Woods and Morino score. 2-0. crap crap. Kawakami comes up raring to bunt, with runners at first and second. ok, he pulled it off. runners at second and third, two out, and here comes Araki... oh god I hope Darvish isn't hurt, pitching coach to the mound after two balls and no strikes. He's throwing low (also, the Dragons' chance music kind of sucks) and then he walks Araki. Bases loaded AGAIN, argh, and here's Ibata. Darvish gets off to an ok start, up 0-2... then falls behind again ugh full count after hitting Tsuruoka in an unfun place. Ugh ugh don't walk him oh THANK GOD, Ibata grounds out to first thank god thank god. Score is now 2-0 Dragons and Darvish is up to 44 pitches, what happened to my first-inning Darvish? I want him back :(

Third inning, top: Yay! Hichori Morimoto hits the first pitch he sees and singles to right to lead off the third... and predictably Kensuke Tanaka bunts him over to second. Ogasawaraaaaaaa... starts off looking like Kawakami's pitching around him but then gets to full count... ah, and then he walks. ok, figures. and here comes SEGUIGNOL AND HE SINGLES TO RIGHT!!!! Hichori scores!!! Now it's 2-1, with runners on first and second. Inaba at bat... and he walks too. BASES LOADED ONE OUT NYAH NYAH NYAH. Okay, Shinjo's up and the batting coach is out and the "chance" music is going in full. And and and and shinjo fouls off a bunch and then hits a sac fly to left! WOO! Ogasawara scores, now it's 2-2!!!! Yay :) Okay, Tsuruoka is up next and after a huge foul to right he lines out to short. Woo. Score is now tied 2-2 and Kawakami is up to 62 pitches through three.

Third inning, bottom: Fukudome comes up and works his way to a full count before a KARABURI SANSHIN!!! Woo. One down, here's Tyrone Woods and... and he singles to left. Morino comes up, and a bunch of low pitches, Morino grounds one back to the mound... Darvish... doesn't... throw to anywhere? uh. well, ok, Alex up with two runners... and he grounds to the mound and this time Darvish actually throws it. good. ok, here's Inoue with two outs, runners on second and third, and uhh... ok, so Inoue singled to left, Woods scored, and then Morino got himself thrown out at the plate on a close play. ack! Score is now 3-2 Dragons, Darvish is up to 63 pitches through three.

Fourth inning, top: I really need to check my laundry. Hmm. Kaneko strikes out. Darvish at bat. Darvish strikes out. Morimoto grounds out to short. Maybe I SHOULD have just checked my laundry. Still 3-2, Kawakami up to 75 pitches.

Fourth inning, bottom: Just went and switched laundry and in the meantime, Tanishige led off the inning by striking out and then KAWAKAMI WALKS? WTF?! Okay, Araki breaks his bat grounding up the first-base line and Darvish fields it, tagging him out, as Kawakami moves to second. and and then Ibata gets hit by a pitch, argh. But fortunately Fukudome hits a high fly to center and Shinjo gets it and whew, three out! Still 3-2. Darvish has now thrown 79 pitches through four.

Fifth inning, top: Kensuke Tanaka strikes out to lead off the fifth. Ogasawara swings so hard on a pitch he turns around and falls over, and flies out to left. Two out, here's Seguignol. Lots of high inside pitches and he eventually strikes out, seventh of the night. 87 pitches for Kawakami through five. I think Good Kawakami finally showed up. Uhoh. Still 3-2.

Fifth inning, bottom: I'm folding laundry as Tyrone Woods strikes out to lead off the inning. Whew. Morino grounds out to second before I notice anything, and then Alex is up to bat, and it's full count, and I think I really overdid it on the fabric softener. Oops. Alex hits the ball back to the mound and blam, inning over. Still 3-2, and 93 pitches for Darvish.

Sixth inning, top: Inaba leads off by hitting a huge fly to center. I guess IceX is right about this playing as a pitcher's park, as Alex catches it. Man, I really hoped Kawakami's evil twin wasn't going to show up and HOLY SHIT SHINJO HITS A DOUBLE OFF THE RIGHT-FIELD WALL!!! ahhh, crap, okay, well, Tsuruoka hits an infield fly to second. Here's Makoto Kaneko... who flies out to left field, stranding Shinjo on second, argh. 105 pitches for Kawakami through six; still 3-2.

Sixth inning, bottom: Apparently whoever wins this game will win the Japan Series, or at least that's what the people on TV think. Inoue grounds to Seguignol, who gets to the bag a split second ahead of him to make the out at first. Tanishige hits Darvish's 102nd pitch of the evening foul on the firstbase side and Seguignol gets that too. Kawakami strikes out, relatively quick inning there. 105 pitches for Darvish through six -- still 3-2 -- and the pitcher slot leading off in the seventh, will they pinch-hit for him or not?

Seventh inning, top: And the answer is, "yes" -- Tomochika Tsuboi comes in to pinch-hit for Darvish, and grounds out to shortstop. Uhh... and so does Hichori Morimoto. And then Kensuke Tanaka watches a bunch of pitches go by and gets called out on strikes. 115 pitches for Kawakami through seven, still 3-2; let me go drag up Darvish's line while I'm sure people at the Nagoya Dome are doing their 7th-inning stretch cheering and whatnot.

Darvish: 6 IP, 5 H, 6 K, 3 ER, 4 BB (one intentional), 1 HBP, 0 HR, 105 pitches.

Seventh inning, bottom: Hisashi Takeda takes the mound for the Fighters -- he's awesome, let's see what he can do with this lineup. Well, the first thing he does is gets Araki to line out to right, Inaba making a running catch. Ibata's up, he hits a long fly foul to right and Inaba crashes into the wall trying to get it and fails. Anyway, Ibata then fouls off about fifty pitches, at which point I type "someone tell ibata to stop fouling off pitches", nanbanjin replies "fly out to shinjo", I reply "k thanks". Hee. Then Fukudome hits a long fly ball to center too and Shinjo gets it and while I can't see it I can totally imagine Shinjo just skipping and bouncing around happily like a big dork, heh. 11 pitches for Hisashi Takeda, still 3-2.

Eighth inning, top: Oh geez, someone PLEASE TELL OGASAWARA NOT TO SLIDE HEADFIRST INTO FIRST BASE THANKS OKAY? Yeah, so he's out by a hair as Ibata guns him down from second base. Seguignol grounds out to Araki at second, and here's Inaba. It's just occurred to me that pessimistically, this is probably about it, as either Kawakami or Iwase is going to finish off the Fighters in the 9th. Bleh. And just as I say that, Inaba gets a single to left, bringing up that Shinjo guy. And.... and there goes the game, as everyone's telling me what a beautiful play it was, with Shinjo grounding towards third, Morino snagging the ball, doing a 180 while throwing towards second, and Ibata gets the ball and redirects to Araki at second who gets the force on Inaba. The Ibata-Inaba romanization confuses most people in the chatroom except me. Kawakami does some sort of happy dance on the mound as he's thrown 131 pitches through eight and is winning 3-2.

Eighth inning, bottom: Even Hisashi Takeda doesn't want to deal with Tyrone Woods and he walks him on a bunch of outside breaking balls. Hidenori comes in to pinch-run for Woods and Morino bunts him over. One out, runner on second.... and ARGH HISASHI CHUCKS THE BALL WILD on a pickoff attempt to second and now we have Hidenori at third and Alex Ochoa hits a double off the left field wall and now it's 4-2 Dragons. Umm... yeah, okay, Hisashi's coming out. Sounds like Hideki Okajima is coming in but I'm not sure.

Takeda's line: 1.1 innings pitched, 1 hit, 1 walk, no strikeouts, and one earned run, possibly more.

Ok, Okajima is in. Ex-Fighter Hiroshi Narahara is pinch-running for Alex, and Inoue is at bat, one out, one runner on second... and Inoue walks?!?! Argh. This game is over. It's been over. Bleh. Man, if I were in Japan right now I very well might go tune in to たったひとつの恋, a dorky romance dorama which is on NTV right now. Oh, um, so Tanishige sac bunted, putting runners on second and third, and Kazuyoshi Tatsunami came in to a standing ovation, pinch-hitting for Kawakami. Whoosh. He flies out to Hichori Morimoto. 8 pitches for Okajima.

Kawakami's line: 8 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 8 K, 3 BB, 1 HBP, 0 HR, 131 pitches.

Ninth inning, top: Chunichi's closer, Hitoki Iwase, is on the mound; Hidenori takes over in centerfield for Alex Ochoa, and Hiroyuki Watanabe takes over at first base for Tyrone Woods. The inning starts with Jose Macias pinch-hitting for Shinya Tsuruoka. Macias unsurprisingly grounds out to second on an awkward throw by Araki. Mound conference as Kaneko gets ahead on the count and they wonder what's up with Iwase. Kaneko grounds out to first, and with one out left in the game, pinch hitter YUKIO TANAKA is at bat! He's been with the team for 21 years and this is his first Japan Series at-bat ever... so you can hear the entire stadium yelling "ato hitori", with faint strains of the Yukio Tanaka song in the background from the Fighters section.

and Yukio grounds out to shortstop and that's the game.


Iwase's line: one inning, nothing happened, 18 pitches.
Okajima's, since I didn't mention it: .2 innings, 8 pitches, one walk.

Well, it's 5:30am, so I'm going to go summarize this game over on japanesebaseball and then try to sleep before the sun comes up. Tune back in tomorrow night!