I arrived at about 12:40pm, and it was PACKED. I'm not entirely sure why (well, I can GUESS), but Fighters minor-league games are always more busy up here than any other team, it seems. Fortunately, I had warned Hiromi that I was planning to go, so when I got there, she had saved me a seat right in the front row! Even better, she was with two other Fighters fans... people I have referred to here in the past as Crazy Kensuke Fan, who I met at the Tokyo Dome and traded me pinbadges, and Two-Camera Lady, who I met at the Futures game in Kamagaya and immediately was impressed by her TWO big Nikon cameras with huge lenses.
Funny part is, it turns out Crazy Kensuke Fan is actually a HUGE Suguru Ichikawa fan. She was showing us this photo album of hers with a ton of Ichikawa pictures in it.. and even crazier, pictures of her with most of the minor league players! It's so cute! I love these people because they make me feel like less of a totally crazy fan.
Then, down the row from us were the three college boys that I've usually run into at Fighters games. They left to head to the Seibu Dome around 2pm, and when they came by, they were like "Hey! Long time no see! Nice Tsuboi shirt! Are you going to the Seibu Dome?" to which I had to sadly reply, "No... tomorrow..."
Anyway, the lineups were:
SS Yoh SS Hayakawa
CF Murata CF Daita
LF Tsuboi 2B Shinzato
DH Youhei Kaneko DH Hori
3B Imanami LF Sadaoka
1B Ichikawa 3B Masato Watanabe
LF Ugumori C Kanazawa
C Imanari 1B Aomatsu
2B Ozaki RF Satoh
P Yoshikawa P Karakawa
Yeah, I had seen Karakawa warming up, so I told everyone that when I arrived, and Hiromi told me she had a "Karakawa bento" at Chiba Marine Stadium, and sure enough, Karaage-kun is the proper nickname for him :)
Also funny is that you might notice there were 5 guys in this game who are officially listed as catchers. Ozaki was playing second for the Fighters, Shinzato was second for the Marines and Aomatsu was playing first. I guess when Kanazawa hurt his leg last week it was just a bruise in the end.
Hiromi was like "Where's your boyfriend Kohbe?" and I'm like "There's YOUR boyfriend Sadaoka!" She also pointed out that my Imanari was playing for once (I find it reassuring that Japanese people also mix up "Imanari" and "Imanami" when they hear them, by the way).
Karakawa only pitched two innings, and a good thing too, because he was owning the Fighters. Szu-yu Wu pitched after that and the Fighters started getting stuff off of him. Ugumori got the first hit for them in the 3rd inning, and was bunted up, moved on a groundout, and then Yoh hit a triple which scored Ugumori. Murata managed to execute a suicide squeeze after that to make it 2-0.
Koichi Hori had the first hit of the game for the Marines, but remained on second when the inning ended. The Marines didn't get a point until until the 3rd when Kanazawa got on base and Hayasaka hit an RBI double to right to score him, 2-1.
In the 5th, with two guys on, Tsuboi hit a single to right and it scored Murata and Yoh, making it 4-1.
I saw Mitsuo Yoshikawa start the game and pitch 6 innings for the Fighters, and Yachiho Hoshino was on the mound when I had to leave at 3pm. Wu had just been replaced by Furuya when I left as well. I was standing on the train platform when I got a text message saying "Sho-kun finally came in as a pinch-hitter... and struck out!"
Anyway, turns out that Kazunari Yamamoto came in to pitch later in the game for the Fighters, and he gave up a 2-run homer to Koichi Hori, and the Marines eventually won 5-4. Poor Hori looks like an old guy when he's running around, but ni-gun really must be a bit too easy for him.
Marines starter Yuki Karakawa.
Fighters starter Mitsuo Yoshikawa.
Tomochika Tsuboi hits a pop out.
Tsuboi pouts at first base.
Requisite pickoff shot -- this one is of Imanami diving in.
Ryuichi Watanabe was warming up Yoshikawa on the side. The glasses are neat.
Yohei Kaneko was having a bad day.
Sho Nakata walked by at one point and everyone was yelling "ganbatte" at him.
Hajime Miki was also being a catcher on the side (WTF?)
Koichi Hori at first base. He gave me a really weird look.
Kazuya Murata runs runs runs.
The score when I left. Doh!
Now I am off to the Seibu Dome for the last Fighters game in Kanto this season. How sad! At least I will finally get to see a Brian Sweeney start for the first time in like 4 months.