From left, our kickline is: Hichori Morimoto, Kensuke Tanaka, Atsunori Inaba, Shinji Takahashi, Terrmel Sledge, Eiichi Koyano, Takahito Kudoh, Takayuki Takaguchi, and Shinya Tsuruoka. (picture from the official Fighters' website)
So, last night the Fighters played against the Eagles at Sapporo Dome, and the Eagles racked up SEVEN RUNS in the second inning off of Masaru Takeda. Which is, as everyone knows, inconceivable! They batted around the order with Jose Fernandez starting the inning with a single and ending the inning with a strikeout, and inbetween there were five singles, a double, and a walk, and seven runs scored. Ouch.
Yet, Nashida left Masaru in to recover from it, and the Fighters' lineup said, "No problem, dude, we got your back." In the bottom of the 3rd, THEY batted around the order, starting with a Takahito Kudoh double and ending with Kudoh grounding out to short, and in the middle there were 3 walks and 4 singles and 5 runs. (Since we cannot beat you by actually hitting the ball with a bat, we will beat you by ignoring your bad pitches! Woohoo!) Yasuhiro Ichiba, the Rakuten starter, came out of the game after walking Kensuke Tanaka to drive in the first run (since he had just walked Hichori Morimoto to load the bases). Former Fighter Masaru Yoshizaki came in, but he only succeeded in giving up hits to Inaba, Shinji, and Sledge (RBIs on the first two, but Shinji was out at home on Sledge's hit). Ogura came in to pitch after that and Koyano managed an infield single off of him, and then Kudoh grounded out. I would like to note that the only Fighters player to NOT get on base that inning was Makoto Kaneko, and I am still hugely, hugely worried about him.
With the score at 7-5 going into the bottom of the fourth, Hichori got a two-out single and then KENSUKE POWER!!?!?! struck again, as Kensuke Tanaka hit a home run into the exact same spot he hits every home run at the Sapporo Dome. (I'm serious, I wonder if someone could sell tickets to that particular seat in right field about 8 rows back and call it the "Kensuke's Sweet Spot" seat. I'd buy it.) So that made it 7-7!
In the bottom of the 6th, Shinya Tsuruoka doubled. Takaguchi, who replaced Kaneko at short after the third inning, came up bunting, but didn't actually hit the ball. Tsuruoka had taken off from second anyway, so Fujii threw the ball to third, and Tsuruoka ended up in a rundown of sorts, but then Naoto Watanabe made a bad throw to third to catch him, which bounced through the third baseman, so not only was Tsuruoka safe at third but he also managed to run home on the play. 8-7! Takaguchi singled after that and made it all the way to third in that inning, but that was it.
Some other stuff happened too, but essentially Masaru Takeda managed to get a win for a game where he gave up 7 runs in one inning, because sometimes weird stuff just happens like that. (boxscore)
Everyone in the lineup got a hit, so everyone in the lineup worked together to be the game hero, essentially. Which is cool. Because something the Fighters have gotten RIGHT in recent years is working together as a team, and I think this was a really nice way to symbolize that.