Thursday, March 20, 2008

Opening Day Liveblogging

If it wasn't raining all through Kanto, I would be at Jingu right now learning the new Dragons cheers and singing my lungs out. But instead, I'm stuck at an internet cafe watching the Fighters-Marines opening game, because it's not on non-cable TV and I can't watch it on my Frankenlaptop.

Baseball status right now:
Open-sen: Dragons-Swallows cancelled, Baystars-Giants cancelled, Carp-Tigers tied at 2-2.
Pacific League Opening Day: Orix 1, Seibu 1, fifth inning; Rakuten 3, Softbank 0, fifth inning.

Fighters-Marines game:
Lineups, LL-style (but without the cool border, using 2007 pitching numbers):

Nishioka SS Hichori CF
Hayakawa CF Kensuke 2B
Fukuura 1B Inaba RF
Saburo RF Sledge 1B
Ohmatsu LF Koyano 3B
Zuleta DH Itoi LF
Satozaki C Tsuboi! DH
Ortiz 2B Tsuruoka C
Imae 3B Kaneko! SS
---------- ----------

Kobayashi (13-3, 2.69) Darvish (15-5, 1.82)

Marines, top first: I got here just in time to see Fukuura ground out for the last out of the top of the first. Darvish threw 12 pitches.

Fighters, bottom first: Hichori strikes out. Kensuke strikes out swinging, pitch in the dirt, throw to first. Inaba also strikes out, pitch in the dirt, throw to first. Kobayashi threw 14 pitches.

Marines, top second: Saburo strikes out swinging, Ohmatsu grounds out to second, Zuleta also strikes out swinging. Darvish threw 11 pitches, total of 23.

Fighters, bottom second: Sledge grounded out, Eiichi Koyano struck out swinging so hard his hat fell off, and Itoi -- who is so new we don't have a player theme for him yet -- grounded out to second. Kobayashi threw 14 more pitches for a total of 28.

Marines, top third: Satozaki leads off by getting the first hit of the game, a low fly ball which bounces in shallow center for a single. Jose Ortiz is called out on a third strike that just brushes the outside corner at the knees. Imae grounded out to short, and Nishioka -- who apparently still gets the "Tsuyoshi" cheer -- also strikes out swinging. WHOOOOOOSH. Ok, 22 pitches this inning, 45 pitches for Darvish through 3 innings, game is still scoreless.

Fighters, bottom third: Tsuboi grounds out to third. Tsuruoka hits a fly ball to short right field, Ortiz going back, Saburo coming in... Ortiz making the catch (the announcers even said "Er... who caught that? Oh... it was Ortiz.") Kaneko grounds to third, Imae making the stop and throwing to first and THE BALL GOES FLYING OVER FUKUURA! Kaneko runs to second base on Imae's throwing error. Hichori hits a nice long fly ball out to center-right but Daisuke Hayakawa runs out there and makes a pretty great catch at the wall. 10 more pitches for Kobayashi, total of 38 on the day so far.

Marines, top fourth: Hayakawa strikes out swinging on a slider (though I noticed more that Darvish threw an unbelievable curve to start off the inning). Fukuura also strikes out swinging on a pitch that curves high and outside at the last second. Saburo ALSO strikes out swinging on a 148km/h fastball down the middle. 15 pitches this inning for Darvish, 60 total, and that was his 8th strikeout, if you're counting... not that I am, of course.

There's a whole lot of Chiba fans out there at the Sapporo Dome and they are quite loud. They're all wearing black shirts that say "CHIBA" in white letters, and no, the shirts do not do a gradient down to white at the bottom.

Fighters, bottom fourth: Kensuke Tanaka leads off the inning with a single to center that bounces in front of Hayakawa! Yaaaaaay! Inaba hits a really high pop fly, Imae making the catch between third and short. And then arrrrrgh Sledge grounds towards second base, where Ortiz throws to Nishioka at second, who gets out of the way of a sliding Kensuke in time to make the throw to first to catch Sledge in a double play. Doh. Only 7 pitches that inning for Kobayashi, for a total of 45 so far. Game is still scoreless.

Elsewhere, the Carp have gone up 4-2 on the Tigers in the 5th inning, Seibu and Orix are still tied 1-1 in the 7th, Wakui and Kaneko still pitching, and the Eagles are still beating the Hawks 3-1 in the 8th, with Sugiuchi and Iwakuma both still in as well (wow! good for Iwakuma!!)

Marines, top fifth: Uhh... Darvish walks Ohmatsu on four straight pitches??? Zuleta strikes out swinging on a ball that dives down and looks pretty far outside. Whoosh. Satozaki nearly KILLS Darvish on a foul tip with a broken bat that goes flying up the middle, but Darvish ducks out of the way in time. Satozaki then singles to right, Ohmatsu advancing to second. Ortiz hits a pop fly up to short, Kaneko making the catch near second, Ohmatsu sliding back into the bag as to not be caught off. Imae also singles to center, but Hichori makes a nice throw in and Ohmatsu can't score, the third base coach holding him up at the last second. But, the bases are loaded... Nishioka hits the ball up the rightfield line but in fair territory, Sledge diving to stop the ball up the line; Darvish runs over to cover the bag and it LOOKS like maybe they got there at the same time, but the umpire calls Nishioka out, ending the inning (and Bobby comes out to yell about the call). I have to admit that even on replays it's unclear exactly what happened, it was a really close play.

18 more pitches for Darvish, making 78 total, and one VERY yabai situation.

(Hey, is that ex-Marine Morozumi coaching at first? Cool.)

Fighters, bottom fifth: Koyano strikes out swinging. Itoi grounds out to short. Tsuboi hits a high fly ball which lands in the vast expense of foul territory at the Sapporo Dome... or more specifically, lands in Imae's glove. 10 more pitches for Kobayashi for a whopping 55 through 5. Wow.

Marines, top sixth: Uh... WTF? Hayakawa bounces a grounder in the dirt which goes off down the leftfield line, through Koyano, and it appeared to HIT THE UMPIRE and go fair... for a single? Okaaaay... Fukuura shows bunt all the way, Sledge coming in get the ball and throw it to Kensuke covering first, advancing Hayakawa to second. Hayakawa attempts to steal third AND TSURUOKA PEGS HIM, so that's two out, although the announcers replay it and aren't clear on whether Koyano actually made the tag or not (hmm... maybe he got him on the arm coming in, I think). Then Saburo hits a flyball into the vast expanse of foul territory near third base and Koyano makes the catch. 9 more pitches for Darvish, total of 87 through six innings.

Hm... I really don't want to feel like the umpires might have screwed up this game.

Fighters, bottom sixth: Tsuruoka leads off with a single up the middle. Kaneko shows bunt all the way and... bunts, advancing Tsuruoka to second. Hichori hits the ball kind of back to the mound, but it bounces off of Kobayashi's glove and goes flying. Nishioka recovers it at second -- or DOES HE? The ball glances off of Nishioka's glove as well and by the time he recovers it, Tsuruoka is safe at third, Hichori at first, and OH MY GOD KOBAYASHI JUST HIT KENSUKE TANAKA WITH THE BALL WTF. Bases loaded and it is time for a good old Sapporo-style Inaba jump (not for me, I am at an internet cafe). Even the camera is jumping, heh.

and uhh... after two strikes and a ball to Inaba... Kobayashi appears to have hurt his leg, or hurt something, so he is coming out of the game. Yikes.

Hiroyuki Kobayashi's line: 5.1 IP, 66 pitches, 3 hits, 5 strikeouts, 1 HBP, no walks, and... (edited): one run, but I think zero earned runs.

WHOA!!! Satoru Komiyama is coming in! COOL!

Ok, Inaba grounds to short, Nishioka making the 6-4 throw to second to get Kensuke, but Inaba is safe at first, beating out the double play throw. Hichori is safe at third and Tsuruoka scores the first run of the game, making it 1-0. Sledge grounds towards second base, where Ortiz is playing perfectly to get it and throw him out at first, ending the inning. Komiyama threw 4 pitches.

Over in Kurashiki, Takahiro Arai just hit his second home run of the day, bringing it to 4-3 Carp in the eighth inning. Over in Tokorozawa, Daisuke Katoh just got his first save of the year as the Buffaloes won 2-1. And down in Fukuoka I DON'T FUCKING BELIEVE IT but Domingo Guzman and the Eagles choked up their 3-1 game and managed to lose 4-3 in the bottom of the 9th when HIROSHI SHIBAHARA hit a 3-run game-winning homer. What the hell?

Marines, top seventh: Ohmatsu grounds to third, where Koyano makes a big looping throw to... Naoto Inada (!!!!) who apparently is in playing first now. Zuleta hits a loooong fly ball to center, where Hichori bounces back and back and makes the catch. Satozaki hits a big pop fly ball into foul territory, where Naoto tries to do a reprisal of his "hungry bull looking for food" routine, but dives just short of the ball instead. Satozaki ultimately hits a pop fly to right field, Inaba making the catch. 15 pitches for Darvish that inning, he's up to 102.

Fighters, bottom seventh: Koyano grounds out to third but then collides with Fukuura at first, whoops. I don't think it was on purpose (he was like "oh crap" and tried to help Fukuura up) but uh, that looked pretty bad, he was running full speed into him, they both fell over. Erm... Fukuura comes out of the game. Masato Watanabe comes in to play second and Jose Ortiz moves over to first.

Itoi hits a long fly ball to center, Hayakawa making the catch. Tsuboi grounds out to first and that's the inning. Komiyama threw 10 pitches through 1.2 innings.

Marines, top eighth: My attention is wandering a little, so I heard Ortiz get a foul fly out, and I saw Kaneko make the catch of an Imae fly ball to short. Then Nishioka smacked a liner to first and Naoto Inada managed to make a jump and grab the ball and keep holding onto it. Dang, that was a lucky one. 110 pitches for Darvish through 8.

Winston Abreu comes out to pitch for Lotte.

Fighters, bottom eighth: Tsuruoka leads off with a hit again! Kaneko shows bunt the entire way and... bunts. Tsuruoka advances to second. Hichori grounds back to the mound, but Tsuruoka held to second so the only play is at first. Kensuke grounds to second and that's it for the inning. 8 pitches for Abreu.

Darvish is... still pitching. Holy carp!

Marines, top ninth: Hayakawa grounds out to second. Tasuku Hashimoto comes out to pinch-hit. Darvish strikes him out high. One more! And here's Saburo...

Saburo grounds back to the mound, ALSO sending several shards of bat over to try to kill Darvish, but he ducks again, gets the ball, throws to first, and has won a 124-pitch complete game! Oi, oi, Hokkaido! Hokkaido, oi!

Nashida gives a winning manager interview and then they bring out Darvish and Tsuruoka as the winning battery (game hero, I assume) for more interviews. Although actually if you were going to pick game heroes these ARE the goddamn game heroes -- Darvish for pitching, Tsuruoka for getting 2 out of the 4 Fighters hits AND scoring the only run.

Darvish: 9 IP, 124 pitches, 0 runs, 4 hits, 1 walk, 10 strikeouts. About average ;)

(EDIT 11:30pm>)
I have a few things to add:
1) I spent the evening working on my boxscore translation program -- they changed the displays from last year so I have to change my scripts, and input all the new players, and so on. I promise to have English boxscores up by the end of the weekend, though.
2) Senichi Hoshino was in Sapporo, and he's on News Zero Live, and they're talking about the game, so the announcer says to Hoshino about Darvish, "Complete game, 10 strikeouts, that's great, ne?" and Hoshino replied "Oh, that's totally normal for him. I expect nothing less." (A bit later they showed Katsuya Nomura talking about Domingo's meltdown and he's like "Yeah, this might be a big problem. Heavy, man.")
3) I still don't care about Orix or Seibu, but I suddenly have a desire to go watch Chihiro Kaneko pitch. How weird.
4) It has been pointed out to me that the Lotte Marines has won the Nippon Series every year they have lost on opening day under Bobby Valentine. That's fine with me... I want more of the postseason to be in Kanto this year, dammit!

(EDIT 2:30AM >)
I finished rewriting my Japanese->English box score translator! Now 2008-season compatible!
I think it'll work in general, but I won't know for sure for another day or two.
I uploaded the new version of the code to Westbay's site and ran it, so here is your English boxscore of today's Fighters game: Fighters 1, Marines 0.
I hope people appreciate it :)

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