Kataoka 2B Kensuke 2B
Shogo Akada CF Hichori CF
Nakajima SS Inaba RF
Okawari-kun DH Shinji 1B
Yoshihito Ishii 3B? Sledge DH
Takayama RF Koyano 3B
Uemoto 1B Tsuboi LF
Ginjiro C Tsuruoka C
Hoshi LF Kaneko! SS
Yamagishi (0-0, 9.00) Sweeney (5-8, 5.32)
Top of the first (F 0, L 1)
The BS1 broadcast comes in just in time for us to see... Akada Shogo getting on first via a grounder to Kaneko, with no throw, and Nakajima next up to bat. (Kataoka apparently got a hit but was picked off first?) A pitch in the dirt to make it full count to Nakajima also moves Shogo to second. Nakajima hits a ball into the gap in right-center and UGH there's the first Seibu run as Akada scores, 1-0. (The Lions cheering section is rather empty, which isn't too surprising really.)
Okawari-kun walks... Yoshihito Ishii hits a popup to Kaneko, nobody advances, two outs. That's good. Takayama hits a pop fly to left and Tsuboi catches it in front of the wall, three out.
Bottom of the first (F 1, L 1)
Kensuke Tanaka comes up bunting (pops one foul, lucky that wasn't caught), goes down grounding to short. Hichori catches a curve coming down and manages to punch it into center for a single. On the 1-1 pitch Hichori takes off for second, and... well, he slides in ahead of the throw but, Nakajima doesn't make the catch and the ball ricochets into the outfield, so Hichori runs to third. The fans start the Inaba Jump and... Inaba hits a double to left field! Hichori scores, 1-1!!
Shinji grounds the ball to short, an easy play for Nakajima, and Inaba is still at second. Two out. Sledge... strikes out.
BTW, we just found out that Rakuten is up 2-0. Doh.
Top of the second (F 1, L 1)
I know I was joking before, "WHO THE HELL IS TATSUYUKI UEMOTO ANYWAY?" but now I'm going to say, "What the hell is Uemoto doing at 1st and Yoshihito Ishii playing third?"
Anyway, Uemoto hits a grounder to Kensuke. One out. Ginjiro grounds out to third, right by the line, a stretch for Shinji to make the play at first but it works, two out. Okay, next is Hidekazu Hoshi, who HEY WE JUST SAW HIS FIRST ICHI-GUN HIT EVER as he hits a double to right. Oops! But then Kataoka hits a pop out to center so it's all good. Still tied.
Bottom of the second (F 1, L 1)
Koyano hits a fly that goes into right field and... is caught. Tsuboi singles to center! (I can see a bunch of my friends in the stands, this is surreal.) A few throws to first later, Tsuruoka succeeds in bunting, the pitcher charging in and throwing to Kataoka covering first. Tsuboi moves to second, two out. Kaneko grounds to short, three out, still tied.
Top of the third (F 1, L 1)
Shogo Akada leads things off by hitting a pop fly pretty much straight to Hichori in center. (Brian is, by the way, starting off almost every batter by throwing something a little TOO low, and as he works his way up into the strike zone they're swinging at it.) Nakajima comes up, same sequence, hits the third pitch for a grounder to short, easy play for Kaneko. Two out. Okawari-kun at the plate and again, after a few outside pitches he finally swings at something on the corner. The 2-2 pitch is ALSO swung at and MISSED! Brian finally gets a chorus of "Who Let The Dogs Out?" over the loudspeakers! Yay.
Bottom of the third (F 4, L 1)
Full count to Kensuke and then a pitch bounces in the dirt for the fourth ball. One on, no out. On the first pitch to Hichori, Kensuke steals second, sliding in under Nakajima's legs (I typed Bakajima and almost left it in, but I don't feel like he deserves that.) Hichori hits a grounder down the first base line which Uemoto needs to move like 3 steps to get. One out, but Kensuke goes to third, with Inaba at the plate. JUMP TIME! And Inaba gets ahold of a low one and BLAM that goes out to right field, where it almost looks like a homer at first but then hits the wall a bit above a jumping Takayama... by the time the ball comes in, Kensuke has long since scored, and Inaba makes it all the way to third for a TRIPLE! (Nice guts pose there.) 2-1! Shinji grounds to short - Nakajima first checks to see if Inaba's going anywhere. He isn't. The throw is to first, so two out, still a runner at third. Four straight balls to Sledge and he walks to first. Runners at the corners, two out...
and Koyano ALSO hits one into the gap! Left-center! Inaba scores, Sledge scores too, just beating the throw home, Koyano makes it to third!!! 4-1!!! Tsuboi hits one out to center but Shogo Akada manages to run it down for the catch. Three out.
That was a good inning :) Brian also looks pretty happy about this turn of events.
Top of the fourth (F 4, L 3)
Yoshihito Ishii is up... he hits one to third that knocks over Koyano as the ball ricochets off his outstretched glove. Oops. WHO THE HECK IS HISASHI TAKAYAMA ANYWAY hits a 2-run homerun into the corner of the stands by one of those big inflatable baseball thingies in right-center. Crap. 4-3. At least Uemoto strikes out swinging -- one down. Ginjiro grounds out to Kaneko, and here's that Hoshi kid again... who hits the first pitch pretty much straight into Inaba's glove in right field. three down. Argh.
Bottom of the fourth (F 4, L 3)
WAIT WHAT IS GOING ON HERE? Chikara Onodera is pitching? Yamagishi pulled after only 3 innings? Weeeeeeeeird.
Even sillier, Onodera is doing things like throwing a pitch that bounces 3 meters in front of home plate. Seriously. Despite that, Tsuruoka grounds out to short. One out. Kaneko grounds out to short, two out. Kensuke hits one to centerfield, caught, three out. I guess Onodera isn't having a bad day after all.
Top of the fifth (F 4, L 3)
Oops, full count to leadoff batter Kataoka and then the fourth ball comes in... maybe it was a little high when it crossed the plane, ball four. Akada up again, and he hits the 2-2 pitch up, up, up... and down into Kaneko's glove. One out. Nakajima up, and... and he grounds into a double play! Koyano's waiting for the grounder and whooosh. Three down! Yay.
Bottom of the fifth (F 4, L 3)
Hichori grounds out to second. Inaba grounds out to short. Shinji... Shinji checks his swing on the 2-2 pitch outside but doesn't check it quite well enough, so he's called out on strikes. Oops.
YMCA time! (Still so weird realizing I was THERE yesterday.)
Top of the sixth (F 4, L 5)
Huh... okay, suddenly we have a pitching switch to Shintaro Ejiri. Let's hope he can hold down the fort so Brian gets the win!
Okawari-kun leads things off by... oh crap. The 2-2 pitch curves inward low and even as he's backing away, it hits him in the shin. That doesn't look like fun.
That's also apparently it for Ejiri, now we have Masanori Hayashi to pitch to the left-handed Ishii.
Ishii bunts and OH CRAP the ball goes between first and second and NOBODY GETS IT, as it goes past Hayashi and Kensuke doesn't charge in in time either. That's bad. Now we have two runners and no outs, for that Takayama kid. Takayama successfully bunts to the pitcher, and this time the Fighters make the out, but so that's one out and runners at second and third. CRAP! And here is TATSUYUKI UEMOTO (please, for the love of god don't hit a...) wait, nevermind, Tomoaki "the other" Satoh is pinch-hitting for Uemoto. Right-handed batter and all. And... oh no no no no no. Hayashi throws the ball into the dirt in front of Tsuruoka's glove, it gets away, and Okawari runs home. TIE GAME, 4-4, and Ishii at third, one out.
Sweeney and Ejiri are in the dugout looking a little bit unhappy about this development.
And Tomoaki Satoh hits one up the middle past a diving Kaneko for a single, and there you go, 5-4 Lions.
Uh, so anyway, full count on Ginjiro (took a break to reply to cellphone text messages there) and oh geez, Hayashi almost hits HIM in the shin too, that was the same pitch that Ejiri got Okawari with, only Ginjiro has slightly better reflexes, weighing 100 pounds less. Yikes. So, that's a walk... two runners on and one out still.
Good news, though: Tuffy Rhodes just hit a 2-RBI single and so Orix and Rakuten are tied! (If Rakuten loses, or if the Fighters win/tie this game, they clinch first place.)
Hoshi comes up bunting and bunts, pitcher to first, so that's two out now, but runners at second and third again, and Nashida and Yoshii are coming out -- I sense another pitching change.
Yes -- switch to Yataro Sakamoto. And BS1 News chooses this moment to do another minute-long news break. Whatever. (BTW, I think if the Fighters lose the game at this point, it gets charged to Hayashi, since Ejiri's runner was only the tying run, not losing run.)
Yataro gets a groundout from Kataoka and that mercifully ends the inning (but now we have to listen to Miho Fukuhara's stupid "La La La Fighters" song that I really hope they change next year).
Bottom of the sixth (F 4, L 5)
First off, Rakuten just went up 6-3. CRAP. Even worse, guess how it happened? Former Fighter Fernando Seguignol 3-run homer. No joke.
Second, okay, Sledge leads off... gets up to a full count (Onodera's still bouncing them in the dirt) and then strikes out. Doh. One down. Koyano grounds out to short. Heh.. Tsuboi swings at the 1-2 pitch, catches it on the outside corner, the ball knocks the bat out of his hand, the ball goes foul to left and the bat actually rolls to the mound, where Onodera picks it up and walks to the plate and hands it to Tsuboi, who looks a little stunned. (Seriously, only in Japan do you see such politeness, I swear.) Onodera bounces another one in the dirt, then another foul, then... swing and a miss, strikeout. That's three down. Doh!
Top of the seventh (F 4, L 7)
Okay, Yataro Sakamoto (who is from Saitama, you know) is still on the mound for the Fighters. We also have a Darvish sighting in the dugout... he's wearing an orange t-shirt, standing in the shadows, and looking kind of grim.
Shogo Akada leads off by singling to center. Nakajima grounds to short -- no double play as Akada was off running, so we have one out and a runner at second. Yataro takes a minute to throw a pitch or two (maybe he lunged weird for that last grounder). Okawari-kun comes to bat and... OH FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. Home run into the stands in center, for his 47th home run of the season. That was huge. 7-4.
Yoshihito Ishii, who is Sakamoto's sempai from Urawa Gakuin by a few years, grounds out to second -- two out. Takayama grounds out to third, the ball barely fair and the throw barely good, but whatever. Ow.
Bottom of the seventh (F 4, L 7)
Jonah Bayliss is on the mound for Seibu, and Naoto Inada is pinch-hitting for Tsuruoka.
Naoto hits a fly ball out to left, caught just foul. One down.
Kaneko hits a high pop fly up, lands in Nakajima's ball at short. Two down.
Kensuke hits a blooper to second that Kataoka just happens to be in position to reach back for and catch -- three down.
Top of the eighth (F 4, L 7)
Shota Ohno comes in for Tsuruoka. Yataro is still on the mound.
First up is Tomoaki Satoh. Satoh hits a low fly to left field that Tsuboi scrambles for but got a good jump and he catches it while still running back with his arm stretched out. One down.
Next Ginjiro, who manages to check his 2-2 strike and make it full count before hitting a pop fly foul to the Seibu on-deck circle that Shota Ohno manages to catch. Two out.
Hoshi comes to the plate and hits a single to center past a diving Kaneko, so now we've seen Hoshi's first two career ichi-gun hits! Oh boy.
Kataoka hits a pop fly out to right, three down.
BUT we just learned that Rakuten won the game 6-3, so basically unless the Fighters can tie up or win this game, they're not clinching tonight. Argh.
Bottom of the eighth (F 5, L 7)
Bayliss still on the mound for Seibu, but some switchy-like things going on in the field (Takuya Hara is now at third, and Ishii moved to first instead of Hoshi, for example).
Hichori hits a ball that bounces up in the infield, and Nakajima recovers it but there's no time for a play, so Hichori is safe at first.
Jonah Bayliss is coming out of the game, and being replaced by former Baystar lefty Yoshihiro Doi (whoa).
Inaba... bunts?! Whoa, nobody expected that, though they still fielded it in time, so we have one out and a Hichori on second. But then Shinji strikes out, so we have TWO outs and a Hichori on second. SLEDGE hits a ball out to center that bounces high against the wall for a double, and that scores Hichori! 7-5.
Here we go with another pitching change -- to Taiyo Fujita? Heh.
(And meanwhile the Fighters ouendan starts the Genghis Khan chance music.)
Koyano comes up to bat and -- I'm not making this up -- fouls a ball into the umpire's stomach. Oops :) And then... ugh, he grounds out to short. This is not looking good. But hey, at least we got one run back..
(This is supposed to be a "Hit it Here!" sign, but I wonder if the person holding it realizes it looks like they want the player to decapitate the person in front of them with a home run.)
Top of the ninth (F 5, L 10)
Kikuchi on the mound for the Fighters now.
Why does it feel like Shogo leads off EVERY inning? Anyway, Akada hits the first pitch he sees into left field for a double. Boo. Nakajima walks. So that's two on for Okawari, who... hits one into centerfield for a double, scoring Akada. Sheesh. 8-5.
Taka Miura pinch-runs for Okawari, so we have runners at second and third and no out... wait a minute... no, we're intentionally walking Yoshihito Ishii so we'll have bases loaded and no out instead! Um?
Takayama hits a sac fly to center, scoring Nakajima. Surprise anyone? 9-5.
Tomoaki Satoh hits a single to right, scoring Miura. 10-5. Ishii moves to second.
Ginjiro, on the other hand, obliges the Fighters with that groundball they wanted, and Kensuke pulls off the 4-6-3 double play. Three out... three ouch.
Bottom of the ninth (F 5, L 10)
Fujita still on the mound. Tsuboi hits a pop out to right, one out... and here is pinch-hitting for Ohno, YOSHIO ITOI! I hope he's okay... hm. Itoi grounds to second -- it's deep and I think he might have beaten the throw if he was 100% on running, but alas, that's two down.
Kaneko singles to center... and Kensuke singles to right, Makoto running all the way to third!
...but Hichori grounds out to second and that's the game, Lions win.
Sheesh. To clinch 1st place tonight, either Rakuten had to lose, or the Fighters had to win or tie their game. But Rakuten won and the Fighters lost, so onward we go to tomorrow night, where Keisaku Itokazu will take on Ming-Chieh Hsu, another Fighters-Lions match at the Sapporo Dome.
(In theory, I am going to Chiba for the Lotte-Rakuten game, to cheer for Lotte, against Rakuten, since it is Bobby's last game, but there is a typhoon on the way and a possibility the rain simply won't stop at all today. Argh.)