Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Photopost, kind of: April 4th, Fighters at Lotte Urawa - Lower League Lefty Legends

After all the excitement of the Opening Day game in Chiba, I woke up the next morning to go up to Lotte Urawa with my friend Hiromi and watch the Marines-Fighters minor-league game! She got there super-early and saved seats in the front row, and I suck and showed up at like 12:40. I don't know why she puts up with me. But even worse, while sitting on the Saikyo line heading up north, I realized that I had forgotten to take my battery out of the charger and actually put it into my D200. That sucked. I borrowed Hiromi's battery for about ten minutes, though, so you can see a few photos I took below.

It was a battle of the lefties, as Tomoya Yagi started for the Fighters and Masatomo Uematsu started for the Marines. Yagi was amazing, pitching 7 shutout innings with no walks and 5 strikeouts. Uematsu wasn't amazing, though he certainly wasn't bad either. It was basically when the ikusei pitchers started coming in that the Fighters started pounding them.

Masatomo Uematsu.

Tomoya Yagi.

Masaya Ozaki batted in the first run of the game in the 6th inning, and then the real action happened in the 7th, when Takuya Nakashima led off with a double, Kazuya Murata bunted him up, and despite Takaguchi striking out, Atsushi Ugumori hit a blammer out to centerfield for a double, scoring Nakashma to make it 2-0. Then hilarity ensued, as Sho Nakata singled to left. Ugumori ran around from second to score on the play no problem, but then Nakata attempted to stretch it into a double and made a SPECTACULAR belly-flop into second base, he was way too slow and it was really funny seeing him totally covered in dirt as he got tagged out by a MILE. The Fighters won 3-0 and it was nice.

Afterwards, I learned the word "miokuri", which technically means, basically, "to see off", but which in this case is more like, "to follow all the players back to the team bus, hound them for autographs and photos, and then wave goodbye to them". I didn't get any autographs, but I got a few photos...

With Takumi Kohbe. He's my Marines ni-gun boyfriend, or he was last year at least (this year it's gonna be Hiroki Ueno if I can ever catch him). Kohbe played first base that day and kept running into the fence in front of us, so Hiromi guessed that he knows we're Fighters fans and that's why he's looking so grumpy in the photo. Oops. The funny part is that I had a Kohbe #55 cellphone strap dangling from my little camera.

With Jason Botts. I asked him in English if we could take a photo. He was really nice about it, though he seemed overwhelmed by all the fans swarming him. I told him good luck getting back up to the top team.

With Tomoya Yagi! This guy was Rookie of the Year in 2006 and won the 2nd game of the Japan Series and the deciding game of the playoffs for us... and has been in the minors for the last year or two. He pitched really well though, it'll be interesting to see if he can move ahead of Masaru Takeda in the lefty pecking order.

Sho Nakata got swarmed and we didn't even TRY to go near him. I thought about stopping Masaya Ozaki but he was wearing a ridiculous bright pink shirt. I hesitated too much to catch a few other guys, like Yanuki and Nakashima. I am apparently too shy. I guess I'll have to make up for it at Kamagaya sometime. Though I *DID* say "Imanari-san! Otsukaresama deshita!" to Ryota Imanari, who said thanks and gave me a REALLY funny look. I should just continue bugging him until he recognizes me as his biggest gaijin fan ever (or more likely ONLY gaijin fan ever). Maybe not.

More relevant photos from my little while of borrowing battery:

Why you don't want to mess with Sho Nakata when he's playing first base. He'll lay the smackdown on you on those pickoff plays.

Sho Nakata at bat.

Go go Ohtsuka Akira!

Despite this being through a fence and with my bad camera I still liked this shot of Kenshi Sugiya. He's an adorable kid.

I write this on the heels of having come home from the Tokyo Dome where the Fighters finally won a game, beating the Marines at ichi-gun, Kazuhito Tadano pitching quite a gem, and there being an awesome triple play and everything. But more on that later.

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