Thursday night, the Fighters managed to heel the Giants, mostly because Kazuhito Tadano was pretty awesome.
I have to wonder: if Tadano manages to get the Pacific League Rookie of the Year award this year, will there be some kind of reverse anger about it? I know people were kind of annoyed when Japanese players with 10 years of experience came over to the MLB and got ROY honors, so will Tadano with his years of MLB and minor league experience be tarnished in the voting? (Or will the voters still be looking back at his past from 6 years ago?) Only time will tell, but I think so far he's making a great case for himself.
Tonight, the Fighters managed to pull off what was certainly a unique way to win a game: a sayonara passed ball. No, really. I got home from work around 7:30pm, finally got Microsoft to stop hating me around 8pm, and watched the last 4 innings or so of the game. I saw Naoto and Kensuke get on base in the bottom of the 7th but didn't get to see Inaba drive in the run to tie the game at 1-1; fortunately I also didn't see the rest of the Fighters bumbling out of that inning.
So in extra innings, the Swallows had their closer Lim out there; he's pretty darn good. But, Inaba, Sledge, and Koyano all managed to get hits off him. So here's Lim with the bases loaded, zero outs, in the bottom of the 10th... wait, maybe I should say, here's the Fighters lineup in that situation. Oda comes in to pinch-hit for Iiyama, and I get this sinking feeling, and sure enough, he strikes out. Kudoh, another lefty batter, comes in to pinch-hit for Tsuruoka, and... he hits a weak grounder to short, Miyamoto being quick enough to throw home for the force out. The Fighters went from bases loaded, no out, to bases loaded, two out, REALLY quickly. The TV kept showing the Fighters' bench getting excited and unexcited. It was kind of silly.
Konta steps up to the plate. Lim gets up to a 1-1 count and throws a ball, low and inside, and...
...it gets away from catcher Kawamoto and starts rolling back towards the dugout. And as he's running back to try to get the ball, Sledge runs home from third, and that's it as the Fighters win the game 2-1 on a PASSED BALL. Konta, the man at the plate when the Fighters won, didn't even get credited with an at-bat. The announcers were like, "That's gonna be a tough one to pick a game hero..." The game heroes ended up being Sweeney for a strong start, and Inaba for the game-tying run. During the interview, they asked Sweeney something like, "did you realize you had a no-hitter through the first five innings, aside from walking like four guys?" He said in English, "Gee, thanks for reminding me about all of those walks!" The translator turned it into something to the effect of "I didn't notice, I was concentrating so hard."
I want to go back to Sapporo. It really was a nice city to visit and a great place to see a ballgame.