There's also a chatroom on japanesebaseball.com if you want to come in and chat about the playoff games, both Central and Pacific League. I'm watching PL tonight, going to the Tokyo Dome tomorrow night, then watching PL for the rest.
(Sorry I didn't write much about the First Stage of the playoffs, but now that there are other blogs covering this stuff I don't feel as pressured to, plus the Fighters weren't involved and I was too busy with college ball. I did watch the Rakuten-Hawks game on Friday night which quickly turned into a landslide as Iwakuma threw a complete game win, and I saw the Chunichi-Yakult games on Sunday and Monday -- all I can say there is that Yakult was playing with a weakened team and yet managed to keep the games VERY close and make it a really interesting series, and I feel kind of bad that it was the first stage instead of the second so it was so short.)
Takasu 2b Kensuke 2b
Naoto ss Hichori lf
Teppei cf Inaba rf
Takeshi SMASH dh Shinji 1b
Seggy 1b Sledge dh
Nakashima rf Koyano 3b
Kusano 3b Itoi cf
Linden lf Tsuruoka c
Nakatani c Kaneko! ss
Nagai (13-7, 3.42) Masaru Takeda (10-9, 3.55)
The Dragons are already up 5-0 on the Giants as I get the 6:10pm broadcast for the Fighters. (NOMOTO!!!) Hooray! Now I just have to try to finish my katsu dinner (with Hokkaido croquette, of course) before the game starts...
Ooh, Harumi Takahashi threw out the first pitch at the Fighters game. She's the Hokkaido governor, I think she's done stuff like that a few times.
Top of the first (F 0, E 0)
Takasu grounds out to third. Naoto Watanabe hits a pop fly foul to right which Inaba catches. Teppei grounds out to short. That was a 4-minute inning!
Bottom of the first (F 1, E 0)
Kensuke Tanaka leads off with a double that goes over Teppei in center! Hooray! Hichori bunts and Kensuke goes to third. One out. Inaba has a super-long at-bat and walks, so runners at the corners, one out. Shinji Takahashi launches one to left field -- it's caught, Kensuke tags up and runs, and he's in! 1-0! Two out, runner at first. Sledge gets up to a full count and singles to right-center! Inaba goes to third, so runners at the corners and two out. Conference at the mound... and Sledge talking to Seguignol at first base. Koyano.... gets called out on strikes! Doh. But hey, the Fighters are up 1-0!
Top of the second (F 1, E 1)
Takeshi SMASH... hits a single to left. Seguignol hits a fly out to right just in front of the wall. Nakashima also singles to left, Yamasaki moving to second. Kusano... heh, during Kusano's at-bat they try to pick off Yamasaki at 2nd and he barely slides back in time. Kusano singles to left too and Yamasaki scores. Yikes! 1-1. Nakashima was out trying to make it to 3rd, though, so two outs and a runner at first. Linden hits a pop fly out to left to end the inning.
Bottom of the second (F 1, E 1)
Itoi grounds out to second. Tsuruoka strikes out swinging (you know, Nagai has a nice curveball). Kaneko grounds back to the mound. Quick inning.
Top of the third (F 1, E 1)
Nakatani pop out. Takasu pop out. Naoto Watanabe... singles to center. But then Teppei hits a pop fly to Kensuke and that's the inning.
Man, there are many empty seats at the Sapporo Dome. I guess it IS a weekday.
Bottom of the third (F 1, E 1)
Kensuke got on base while I was putting laundry in the machine between innings (it appears he singled to center). Hichori bunts him up again. Inaba jump time! Inaba grounds out to second, Kensuke going to third. Shinji takes some big cuts and eventually strikes out, leaving Kensuke out there.
Top of the fourth (F 1, E 3)
Takeshi smashes one into Hichori's glove in left. Seguignol gets hit with a pitch, on his left hip. Nakashima hits a huge one out to right-center for a double, Seggy making it to 3rd before the coach waves at him to stop, so, runners at 2nd and 3rd with one out. Kusano does it again with a sac fly to center, and Seguignol scores. 2-1. Linden... singles to right, and Nakashima scores. 3-1. Nakatani strikes out and finally that inning is over.
Bottom of the fourth (F 1, E 3)
Sledge grounds out, Koyano grounds out, Itoi grounds out (at least Itoi's was up the middle and a difficult play, but still out).
In the meantime it is 6-1 at the Tokyo Dome and former Fighter Micheal Nakamura has made it in and out of the game (ejected for kikenkyu after hitting Blanco in the helmet).
Top of the fifth (F 1, E 3)
Takasu hits a pop fly out to left. Naoto Watanabe grounds to the mound and Masaru actually runs the ball to first to get him out. Two down but Teppei singles to center. Yamasaki hits a pop fly out to center. Quick.
Bottom of the fifth (F 1, E 3)
Tsuruoka leads off with a single to center. But Kaneko grounds into a double play, oops. Kensuke hits a pop out to center... another quick inning.
Top of the sixth (F 1, E 3)
Seggy grounds out to short, Nakashima grounds out to second. Kusano grounds out to 1st unassisted, and it's time for La La La Fighters (I think I'll go downstairs and check on laundry instead).
Bottom of the sixth (F 1, E 3)
Hichori grounds to the mound. Inaba doubles to the wall! Shinji walks, and...
...and the Fighters fans are doing the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang "Kanto-Only" chance theme. Now THAT is pretty nuts.
Sledge strikes out on one of those pretty Nagai curveballs, so, two runners, two out. Koyano grounds out to short, and that is the inning.
Top of the seventh (F 1, E 6)
Linden leads off with a fly out to right. Nakatani hits a single to center, and then Takasu doubles to right and Nakatani goes to third (again coach Nishi waving him to stop). Makoto Kosaka (!!!) comes in to run for Takasu, and that's also it for Masaru Takeda on the mound.
Shintaro Ejiri takes over the pitching duties for the Fighters, with runners at 2nd and 3rd...
Naoto Watanabe grounds out to third and nobody goes anywhere. They... intentionally walk Teppei, loading the bases, for Takeshi Yamasaki. Gutsy move that. Takeshi SMASHes one to left... going... going... Hichori is running back for it, and it HITS THE WALL JUST OVER HICHORI who falls over after jumping. Itoi recovers the ball and throws it in but by the time the dust clears, Yamasaki is standing at 2nd base and everyone else has scored. 6-1. Seguignol grounds out to second.
This is not looking good.
Bottom of the seventh (F 1, E 6)
Kosaka takes over at 2nd, and Ryuji Miyade comes in to play 1st.
Yoshio Itoi is called out on strikes. Next is pinch-hitter Tsuboi... who grounds out to second before anyone can even finish his fanfare. And Kaneko grounds out to the mound.
Top of the eighth (F 1, E 6)
Yataro Sakamoto is on the mound for the Fighters and Shota Ohno is behind the plate.
Kenshi Kawaguchi pinch-hits for Nakashima, apparently. After fouling off a bazillion pitches, he hits a fly ball out to Hichori. One down. Kusano hits what would be a nice hit to right, except Kensuke Tanaka happens to make himself end up where the ball comes down. Two down. Linden goes down swinging on two balls to the inside corner.
Bottom of the eighth (F 4, E 6)
Nagai still on the mound. Ryo Hijirisawa comes in to play right field.
Kensuke goes down on a called third strike. Hichori singles off of Nagai's right foot, the ball rebounding off into centerfield (almost like a hackeysack kick). Inaba hits a ball way out over the aforementioned Hijirisawa for a double, Hichori going to third but being stopped by coach Makishi. Shinji hits a standard single to center, scoring Hichori (Inaba stays at third). 6-2.
That'll take Nagai out at last, in place of Hiromichi Fujiwara.
And this time the Fighters fans are singing the SAPPORO chance music, aka Genghis Khan, as Sledge comes to bat.
Sledge singles to right! Inaba scores! Shinji goes to second. 6-3!
And that's it for Fujiwara as Shinichiro Koyama comes to the mound. The first pitch to Koyano is a foul, and the second pitch goes about a foot to the left of the outstretched arm of catcher Nakatani (er, his right). Runners advance. Next pitch almost gets away too, but is in the dirt. Next pitch is just outside on the outside knees corner. And then... alas, two pitches later, Koyano strikes out swinging. Oops.
ANOTHER PITCHING CHANGE? YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME.
Yeah, okay, now lefty Kanehisa Arime comes in to pitch to lefty Yoshio Itoi, apparently, and BS1 goes to a news break to talk about an earthquake that happened a bit ago in the Ogasawara Islands. I will not make a joke about how earlier in the Giants-Dragons game, Ogasawara was pitching to Ogasawara...
Anyway, the Fighters counter with Tomohiro Nioka! Wheee.
First pitch to Nioka is INSIDE but gets away from catcher Nakatani, and Shinji scores, Sledge going to third. 6-4. The ouendan switch to the Kanto chance theme music. Nioka walks.
GRUMPY KANTOKU ALERT is still out there -- you aren't going to believe it, but they just switched pitchers from Arime to Tsuyoshi Kawagishi. Kazuya Murata pinch-runs for Nioka, and then Naoto Inada pinch-hits for Ohno anyway.
After all of that, Naoto hits a pop fly out to left field and the inning ends. Sheesh.
Top of the ninth (F 4, E 8)
Yataro Sakamoto is still pitching for the Fighters, but Satoshi Nakajima comes in to catch. Pinch-runner Murata enters the game as the left-fielder and Hichori goes to center.
Nakatani starts things off with a single to right -- why it is only a single is beyond me as it bounced over Inaba against the wall, but hey.
Now the Fighters begin the ridiculous pitching change roulette, and Masanori Hayashi comes into the game.
After all that, though, Makoto Kosaka sac bunts, catcher to first. Nakatani advances to second. Naoto Watanabe hits a pop fly out foul that Shinji Takahashi gets. And then Teppei Tsuchiya... hits a home run to right. Which lands to utter silence, which is really bizarre, but does, infact, score two more runs for the Eagles, making it 8-4. Yamasaki gets called out on strikes and that ends the inning.
Bottom of the ninth (F 9, E 8)
Kazuo Fukumori in for Rakuten. Neat.
Makoto Kaneko leads off the Fighters' attack by hitting a pop fly to shallow center, and three fielders run in for it... oddly it's caught by Makoto Kosaka. Kensuke Tanaka hits a line-drive single to right. Hichori follows it up with his own single to center past a lunging Kosaka, and Kensuke goes to second. Inaba Jump time... and Inaba hits one to center. Kensuke scores, Hichori goes to second. Whoosh! 8-5...
Kita no Kuni Kara chance theme starts for Shinji Takahashi's at-bat. Which is LONG. Very long at-bat... and he ultimately walks. So that's bases loaded for Terrmel Sledge, and Kazuo Fukumori does not seem to be having a good time of things right now.
("Fukumori -- get yer act together or we're sending you back to Texas!")
TERRMEL SLEDGE HITS A GRAND SLAM INTO THE LEFT-FIELD STANDS!
FIGHTERS WIN IT 9-8!
Holy crap, that's about as dramatic as it gets, huh?
Game hero is Sledge, of course...
"I was just thinking I wanted to hit the ball hard, and when it left the bat, I thought, hey, it has a chance of going, and it did!"
"I was like, 'please, please go over the wall!'..."
"I'm just trying to focus, I'm not trying to do too much, I just want to win for this team, that's it"
"It's a good way to start the playoffs, we're gonna try to go all the way, that's our plan, to go all the way for the city of Sapporo and for everyone."
"Thank you for the support, see you tomorrow!"
(took a photo of my TV screen after his hero interview)
Wow, this is pretty unexpected. A few weeks ago when tickets went on sale I had some friends who had extra tickets to Saturday and Sunday's games, but I said I couldn't afford to fly up to Sapporo for games that wouldn't happen, because if the Fighters win their first 3, the weekend games don't need to be played. If the Fighters DO manage to sweep this, it will be pretty amazing. And then I can justify not going up there :)
Tomorrow is Iwakuma vs. Itokazu, but I'll be at the Tokyo Dome.
On that note I want to put up one other photo I took of my TV screen:
This is cool both because it shows Chunichi slaughtering the Giants, but also, the "train ticket" is probably one of the most awesome signs I've ever seen! It's basically an "express ticket" from the playoffs to the Japan Series, with the price being "Priceless" and the date stamp being Oct 21st and the departure time being the Sapporo Dome. Heh.
Anyway, I will be doing this again on Friday night, so tune in then too!