Normally I would be down at Chiba Marine Stadium for this game, but alas, I got hit by a truck while riding my bike on Saturday night (no, I'm really not making that up, and yes, I really went to Nagoya yesterday anyway, I didn't want to waste the train tickets, and no, my bike didn't survive, but yes, I'm mostly okay, aside from a bunch of bruises and scrapes and cuts and soreness, as far as I know, at least, I need to go back to the hospital sometime), so I'm sitting at home tonight watching the game over the internet. It breaks my heart not to be there, but given the fact that I can barely walk without pain, I think it'd break my legs more. I think my next-door neighbor has already moved away anyway, so it's ok if I sing along to the cheer songs...
I'm sort of stunned by two big pieces of Fighters news though -- Yukio Tanaka is retiring after this year since the team doesn't want him back as a player next year, and... and... and manager Trey Hillman is quitting and coming back to America :( I have absolutely no idea who they can get to replace him (and if you suggest Shinjo, I'll smack you).
If you're wondering why I think this is such a big deal -- take a look at the standings right now. Fighters are in 1st place, 67 wins, 53 losses, 4 ties, .558 Win%... with 429 runs scored and 423 runs allowed. Anyone who knows the Pythagorean win equations knows THAT is insane, and I can't think of any reason why a team that isn't outscoring or outhomering or outANYTHINGing the rest of the league is winning so many games, aside from the manager doing a good job with the closer games. Wait... I just realized the Hanshin Tigers are also in first place with only 461 runs scored and 456 runs allowed and are 67-52-4. Maybe Okada isn't quite as big an idiot as everyone thinks.
Anyway, here's what's going on:
1st: Hichori pops out to right, Kensuke Tanaka grounded out to second, Inaba was hit by a pitch on his elbow, and Koyano grounded out to short.
bottom - Nishioka hits a high fly ball out to left, where Kudoh catches it right by the wall. Hayakawa also pops out to left, Kudoh catching it on the run just outside the foul line. Satozaki walks, and Saburo strikes out. Whee.
2nd: Seguignol grounds out to second, Shinji also grounds out, and... Itoi? hits a pop out to right. Fast inning.
bottom - they still use the battle hymn of the republic for jose ortiz, who eventually pops out to first base (Seguignol, whoa). Ohmatsu reaches far out for a ball and grounds out to Kaneko at short, and Julio Zuleta, who has grown a LOT of hair this year, grounds out to third, where Koyano dives for the ball and makes a nice stop and throws the ball to first.
(Koyano canNOT stand still at third though, it's pretty funny)
3rd: Kaneko hits a long fly ball out to right, Saburo making the catch in foul territory. And Kudoh gets a single to right! Yay Kudoh!! Hichori also gets a single to right!!! Yay Hichori! Kudoh runs to third on the play, he had already taken off on the pitch. And HAHAHAHAHA. Ok, so Kensuke Tanaka just barely got the ball and his bat went flying on the play, and he fell over, and then he got up and ran to first... the rest of the Marines were stunned so by the time Zuleta fielded it, Shimizu wasn't there to cover first and Kensuke was safe at first and Kudoh scored and Hichori got to second! 1-0! Then Inaba hit a double to right!!! Hichori scores and Kensuke stops at third... 2-0 and now Koyano ALSO hit a double, hitting the centerfield wall behind Hayakawa, clearing the bases for 4-0. Seguignol comes up to the plate and THE SKIES OPEN.
Whee, rain delay. I think it's time to go cook my moyashi soba cup noodles :)
(oh man, I can hear the Fighters oendan playing songs in the rain and cheering and singing Susume Fighters and all that. I wish I was there!!)
Ok, that was a pretty short rain delay, only like 5-10 minutes. Seguignol comes back up to bat and... walks. Ok, so Koyano is at second, Seguignol's at first, and here's catcher Shinji Takahashi... who hits the ball up the left field line and it somehow gets away from Imae (too wet?), so that's another single, Koyano scoring, 5-0. Looks like they're taking Shimizu out of the game, too. Ok, Takagi comes in to pitch (and the Fighters fans are singing the fight song again, wheeeeeee).
Itoi strikes out and Kaneko hits a shallow fly ball to centerfield which Daisuke Hayakawa runs and makes a long slip-and-slide sliding catch on the outfield turf, for three outs. Man, poor Makoto, both starting and ending the inning with pop flies :(
bottom - Benny gets a hit to left, through Kaneko. Sweeney can't seem to find the strikezone for a while but then Imae finally ends up hitting into a double play, 4-6-3.. and Tsuyoshi Nishioka strikes out looking. Whee!
4th Kudoh starts out by grounding out to short, but then Hichori hits a fly ball to right field which actually lands for a single near the line. Kensuke! Whee! Single to shallow center! Hichori, being himself, runs off to third, and the rain is falling again a little bit, and... Inaba hits a long fly ball to center, and Hichori tags up and scores on the play, 6-0. Oi, oi, Hokkaido, oi! Koyano hits the ball right to Imae, who throws it to second to get Kensuke on the forceout, three outs.
bottom - Hayakawa starts off the inning by hitting a fly ball out to left. Satozaki hits a really high fly ball out to center and Hichori Morimoto runs in to catch it (and after he catches it he has this really retardedly goofy look on his face and is laughing. I guess these are the things you can't see from the outfield stands). Saburo grounds out to second and that's the inning.
The announcers are talking about how unfortunate the Fighters are, losing Shinjo and Ogasawara, and now Hillman. Yikes. Something really funny also is that you can actually see how the camera angle is from behind an infield fence, the lines are there. Also funny is watching Brian Sweeney high-fiving the fielders as they all walk to the dugout. Well, not funny, that's actually pretty cool!
5th: ok, so in reality i missed Seguignol and Takahashi's at-bats but they both somehow grounded out, and then Itoi singled and stole second during Kaneko's at-bat, and Kaneko doubled!!! so Itoi scored, 7-0. Here's Kudoh... who hits a "Woods homer", that is, a double off the back wall that's literally like inches from being a real home run, so Kaneko scores, 8-0. Bobby Valentine comes out and Takagi also comes out. New pitcher wheeee.
Ok, now pitching for Chiba... SATORU KOMIYAMA? WOW! Well, hey, it could be worse, it could be Satoru Kanemura also pitching for the Fighters, and then Gary Garland would never be able to figure out what was going on.
Anyway here's Hichori Morimoto, who grounds out to short, and that's the inning. Good going, Old Man Komiyama.
bottom - Jose Ortiz grounds to short, where Kaneko runs deep back in the hole and gets the ball but the throw isn't quite in time, so Ortiz is safe at first. Ohmatsu hits a pop fly out to short. A wild pitch in the dirt through the catcher's legs advances Ortiz to second, but Julio Zuleta hits a long fly ball out to right. Benny -- who, by the way, Chiba fans, has TWO SYLLABLES in his name -- hits a pop fly out to center, and that's it.
6th: They must always do fireworks at the start of the 6th at Chiba Marine stadium, since they're doing them now.
Anyway, Kensuke Tanaka walks, and Inaba singles to right. Koyano hits a ball up the left side and Imae makes a fantastic diving stop, and sadly for him the throw doesn't get to first in time, so the bases are loaded with Seguignol up to bat... and after a few balls, Seguignol strikes out on a checked swing which wasn't quite checked (yeah, the replay is pretty clear, it crossed his body). And then... and then... Takahashi walks. Which walks in a run. 9-0 and HEY HERE'S YUKIO TANAKA!!!!!! dammit, that makes me sad, I wanted to be there to get to see him play one last time. Alas, Yukio, pinch-hitting for Itoi, hits a long fly ball out to right and it doesn't even score anyone. Poor guy. Kaneko also hits a pop fly out to end the inning, and that's one run out of a bases loaded situation, but whatever.
bottom - Imae hits a fly ball out to shallow center, which actually gets caught by Kaneko. Nishioka slices one through the middle for a single. And then Hayakawa hits a chopping grounder up the right side past Kensuke Tanaka and it goes into the gap between Hichori and Inaba, so while they're chasing it down, everyone else runs a lot and Nishioka scores and Hayakawa gets a triple out of the deal. 9-1. Satozaki grounds out to short but that brings Hayakawa in -- 9-2. Saburo hits a fly ball out and that's the inning.
Oooh, runs. Remember those, Marines?
7th Kudoh hits a pop fly out to left, so does Hichori, Kensuke hits one as well and it's short enough that Tsuyoshi Nishioka catches it near short, and that's three outs.
bottom - Oh hey, Konta came in for Inaba in right. Interesting.
Jose Ortiz hits a single to left field. Ohmatsu hits one to right field. And uhh... oh man, that was almost a home run but no, Kudoh caught the ball like maybe 10 feet in front of the fence. Even BETTER, you can clearly see Julio Zuleta shouting "FUCK!" as he's walking off the field. Teehee. And yeah... that's it for Sweeney, I think. Yeah, it is. Takayuki Kanamori comes in to pitch. Pretty good outing for Sweeney, honestly.
Kanamori starts off by striking out Benny Agbayani swinging on a high and inside pitch. Whoosh. Imae singles, but Ortiz just advances to third and Ohmatsu to second. Oddly, Nishioka strikes out after that on a checked swing that wasn't quite checked. Takahashi tags him and it's funny, Nishioka's actually pretty much laughing, like "Yeah, I look like a dumbass, don't I?"
8th: And Heiuchi comes in to play shortstop for Chiba? Eh. Konta is up to bat to lead off the 8th and they show Inaba in the dugout. Wait a minute, so Konta flew out to left and the guy who caught the ball was Takehara... and Hashimoto also came in to catch instead of Satozaki, and... and Koyano also hits a pop fly out, and the next batter is Naoto Inada, who is playing first instead of Seguignol. Wheeeeeee changes. Oh, Naoto actually gets a single to left. Lalalalala Naoto! Shinji Takahashi grounds into a fielder's choice after that and it's the inning.
bottom - hey, ok, Tsuruoka is in catching for the Fighters, Iiyama is playing third, and Hayakawa is leading off for the Marines by getting a single to left. Hashimoto hits a high fly ball, caught by Kensuke Tanaka near first base. Takehara hits a fly ball out foul and Naoto gets it. Ortiz hits a shallow pop and one of the fielders catches it and nearly trips over the other fielder.
9th: Hmm.. Komiyama turns 42 next week and he's pitching to Yukio who turns 40 in December, and... and Yukio strikes out. Aww :( Kaneko grounds out, and Kudoh hits a shallow fly out behind second, and that's three.
bottom - ok, well, Hashimoto is pitching for the Fighters, and Ohmatsu leads off for the Marines by hitting a double into the gap in right field. Zuleta strikes out swinging. Benny hits a liner to center which Hichori catches, and... one more! one more! It's Imae, who... who... who hits a double to left, scoring Ohmatsu. 9-3. Whee. Heiuchi unceremoniously grounds out to first and that's the game!
YAY FIGHTERS! I AM SORRY I COULDN'T BE THERE :(
Huh, Koyano is game hero. That is pretty bizarre.