Naoto Watanabe SS Kensuke 2B
Kosaka 2B Itoi CF
Masato Nakamura LF Inaba RF
Kusano 3B Shinji 1B
Takeshi Smash DH Sledge LF
Teppei CF Koyano 3B
Norihiro 1B Jason Botts DH
Hiraishi RF Tsuruoka C
Shima C Kaneko! SS
Hasebe (4-5, 4.19) Itokazu (0-3, 6.08)
The Dome looks kind of empty. I really have to plan a trip there sometime in August... shame almost all of their games then are weekends though.
First inning, top:
The TV broadcast comes on just in time to see Kosaka ground out for the second out of the first inning... Nakamura also grounds out and that's three.
First inning, bottom:
Kensuke walks, Itoi bunts. Hasebe's control doesn't look so good... Inaba jump, the camera is shaking. Inaba walks, runners at first and second for Shinji... who grounds to third. Ball to second, Inaba out on the force but Shinji is safe at first. Kensuke to third... and Sledge singles to right! Kensuke scores, Inaba makes it all the way to third. 1-0. Koyano strikes out.
Second inning, top:
Kusano hits a pop fly up, up, up, down down down into Koyano's glove right by third. And just as I'm talking about "hey, Takeshi Smash is DHing today" with a friend on IM... Takeshi smashes a homerun into the leftfield stands. And this is no small homerun, it went about 2/3 of the way up the seats. 1-1. Teppei hits a fly to shallow right-center, and Kensuke, Itoi, and Inaba all run in, and it's not clear who has it but then Inaba lunges out and makes the catch. Norihiro comes up to bat and... grounds out to Kensuke.
I have just realized that both starters wear #20 and are still young unproven college-star types.
Second inning, bottom:
Jason Bottsu! ...grounds out to short. Tsuruoka watches a bunch of pitches go by way in or way out and walks. Kaneko... long fly ball to right. Kensuke walks again, so runners at first and second. Itoi... hits a grounder to first that even Norihiro has no trouble getting and running to the bag in time.
Third inning, top:
Hiraishi (dare aitsu?) hits a long fly ball to Inaba. One out. Shima comes up bunting or not bunting or who knows, but he walks. Naoto Watanabe lunges for a pitch way the hell outside, drags it to Kensuke, who flicks to Kaneko at second and makes the relay to first in time for a double play. Whoosh.
Third inning, bottom:
Inaba and Shinji ground out and Sledge strikes out and I barely see it as I'm adjusting my TV and stuff.
Fourth inning, top:
Little Makoto Kosaka (awww) slaps a single into centerfield. Masato Nakamura bounces one to short, and Kaneko charges in, gets the ball coming down from a bounce, throws to first, and beats Nakamura there by like, half a stride. Kusano goes down on a called third strike just in the inside corner at the knees. This time Takeshi does not smash but instead grounds out.
Whee, time for BS News to cut in.
Fourth inning, bottom:
Koyano hits a pop fly foul to right and Norihiro, Masato Nakamura, and Kosaka run in for it.. and I believe Kosaka makes the catch. Jason Botts singles to center pretty quickly. Really long at-bat for Tsuruoka... WHAT was that? I think Tsuruoka struck out but Jason Botts managed to steal second since he was off running on the swing and Shima missed second on the throw and chucked the ball into the outfield instead. Weird. Okay, so runner at second and two outs. And.. Kaneko singles to center! Botts kind of tries to run home but only gets a little way before he's stopped and waved back to third. Fighters ouendan strikes up the Genghis Khan chance music, which starts vaguely wreaking havoc on the cameras. And Kensuke singles to right! Botts scores easily and Kaneko makes it all the way to third! 2-1. Itoi strikes out.
Fifth inning, top:
I'll admit - this inning was so fast I didn't actually see it, as I'm kind of falling asleep. I woke up hearing the Fighters fans singing the 5th-inning sanka.
Fifth inning, bottom:
Inaba hits one off the end of his bat down the left-field line for a double. Shinji gets a single to center, Inaba going to third. (Inaba kind of was waiting for a split second to see if it was caught, I think.) Sledge hits a low fly to right... caught, but Inaba tags up and scores. 3-1.
And that's it for lefty Kohei Hasebe. Pitching change to righty Koji Aoyama, who is actually from Hokkaido (Hakodate). Interesting.
Koyano kinda reaches out for a low one and grounds to short.. Shinji slides into second safely but Koyano is out at first. Two outs and here's Jason Botts (I swear the TV angle makes it look like Botts's strike zone is bigger than Makoto Kosaka)... and Botts strikes out. Ok.
Sixth inning, top:
Shima grounds out to second. Watanabe grounds out to second. Kosaka... grounds out to short. That was fast.
Sixth inning, bottom:
(huh... YMCA before the top of the sixth, La La La Fighters before the bottom? Also a cut to "PL History" on BS1 where they show Nomura as a playing manager for Nankai in the 70's)
Tsuruoka strikes out. Kaneko grounds towards first -- Norihiro Nakamura goes in and gets the ball, throws to first where he expects the pitcher to cover but Aoyama isn't there so the ball goes soaring past first. Kaneko is safe and Shima has to back up the play. And.. WOW. Kensuke hits a grounder to third. Kusano runs in for it but misjudges and rather than getting the ball the ball bounces past him, so Kensuke's safe at first and Kaneko at second. Itoi grounds to first, Norihiro throwing to second to get Kensuke on the force, but Itoi's safe at first, so runners at the corners. Inaba jump! ...Itoi steals second base on the first pitch and is totally safe, and the crowd does ANOTHER Inaba jump... AND and and and they are INTENTIONALLY WALKING INABA. Whoa. Nomura has this look of "I am clever, don't mess with me" on his face. Here's Shinji Takahashi... who, crap, grounds to short. Inning over.
Seventh inning, top:
Ok, pitching change to Masanori Hayashi.
Masato Nakamura grounds to short, a bit deep. Kaneko fields the ball and throws to a totally stretched out Shinji Takahashi at first... and the runner LOOKS safe but the umps call him out. (I actually thought he was safe or close enough to a tie that I'm surprised he didn't get the call.) Nomura comes out to argue but to no avail. I don't blame him for arguing, though, that was a super-close play. Kusano goes down swinging, two outs. Takeshi Smash comes up and... singles to left, through a running Kaneko. Then during Teppei's at-bat, Hayashi throws the ball into the dirt and it bounces away from Tsuruoka, so Takeshi Smash gets to lumber on over to second base. But... it all works out okay as Teppei strikes out.
I'm beginning to think Hayashi could work out for us kinda like Okajima did (ie, lefty relief dude to come over from the Giants in a WTF trade, only we get Hayashi for many more years.)
Lucky Seven, bottom:
Shinichiro Koyama takes over on the mound for Rakuten and Sledge immediately singles to left. Pinch-running for him at first is Hichori! Ok. Koyano comes up bunting and... well, a few failed bunts, a failed pop-up (but he's sure giving catcher Shima a workout), etc later, he ends up hitting a pop fly out to right. Next is DH pinch-hitter Tsuboi! A couple of pitches go by but the most dramatic thing to happen is a pitchout where they try to get Hichori going for second -- catcher to second to first, but Hichori dives back into the bag and is safe. Eventually Tsuboi walks. Tsuruoka's at-bat also drags on for a while and he eventually singles to center, loading the bases. Genghis Khan chance music starts as Kaneko comes to the plate... and Kaneko is out on the infield fly rule! Whoa, long time no see that one. Looks like a pitching change, probably to a lefty.
Yup -- Kanehisa Arime comes out to pitch to the lefty-heavy top of the order. And sure enough, he gets Kensuke out on a pop fly to left. Boy, that was a long inning.
Eighth inning, top:
Fighters pitcher switches to Kazumasa Kikuchi.
Kenshi Kawaguchi pinch-hits for Norihiro Nakamura... and grounds out to the mound. Hiraishi grounds to first, unassisted... and Ryo Hijirisawa pinch-hits for Motohiro Shima. Hijirisawa grounds to second. Quick inning.
Eighth inning, bottom:
Fujii's catching, Kenshi's in at first, Arime is still on the mound.
Itoi, first pitch, breaks his bat (he's holding the handle and the rest of the bat goes flying). Eventually he succeeds in grounding to second, Kosaka throwing to first, and... same close call like Masato Nakamura earlier only this time the ump calls Itoi safe. I think it was about the same as the other one -- kind of ridiculous, and Nomura comes out for a token WTF argument but doesn't stay long. Inaba strikes out, though Itoi steals second on the third strike (Itoi's second stolen base tonight).
And another pitching change -- Marcus Gwyn takes over on the mound.
Shinji grounds out to second but Itoi ends up at third. Now Hichori gets an at-bat. But he also basically only succeeds in grounding out. Oops.
Ninth inning, top:
Hisashi Takeda, the Little Closer, comes out to pitch for the Fighters. Iiyama is in defensively at third. Naoto Watanabe is at the plate... and he grounds out to short. One down. (They keep showing Itokazu in the dugout because if this game holds together, it'll be his first professional ichi-gun win.) Little Makoto Kosaka is at the plate, and he hacks at a few curveballs before grounding one back to the mound. Two down. It all comes down to Masato Nakamura, who has grounded out to short three times today... but this time, no dice. Hisashi gets up to a full count before walking him on a pitch slightly in and slightly low. Daisuke Kusano comes up to the plate -- he's just the PL batting champ right now, no big deal, right? Kusano hits a low liner out to right field... it's going... it's going... it is CAUGHT by Inaba. WHEW.
Fighters win the game 3-1 and Itokazu has a huge smile on his face and everyone's alternately eithehr hugging him or smacking him in the head or whatnot as they do their big line of high-fives. Someone (Inaba? Takeda?) gives him the game ball... and yes, he is the game hero.