Sunday, March 28, 2010
Game Report: Marines vs. Fighters @ Chiba Marine - Wherefore Art Thou, Hisashi Takeda?
TLDR Version: The Fighters managed to get a nice cushy 3-1 lead behind starter Yu Darvish, and then handed the ball off to their bullpen, and closer Hisashi Takeda gave up two runs in the bottom of the 9th to bring the game into extra innings, where it would end up being tied 3-3.
I don't really know what to say about this game either. At least now I know that the reason Makoto Kaneko hasn't been playing is because he hurt his left oblique muscle or something like that, so he got taken off the roster to recover for a bit. Hence Iiyama starting at short on Friday and Masayoshi Katoh starting on Saturday.
Quite frankly, I'd rather have Kaneko out there, but failing that, Katoh seems a better choice than Iiyama.
On the other hand, I got the good news that Ryota Imanari, after hitting himself in the head with his bat on Friday (apparently it was windy/wet and he lost his grip), came out of it bruised but none the worse for the wear, so he should be okay.
Saturday was a lot more crowded than Friday in the Fighters cheering section, though the Marines cheering section had shrunk, being as Friday night the left-field seats were full of jersey-wearing screamers, but Saturday it was full of people not standing up at all.
The ceremonial first pitch was replaced by, oddly, a "Ceremonial First Catch". The catcher was Isoyama Sayaka, a model/"talent"/whatever, who has apparently been a huge baseball fan her whole life and used to want to become the next incarnation of Minami from the manga "Touch" and was a manager of her high school baseball team, before becoming an announcer for the Swallows and other such things. The pitcher was Takashi "The New" Ogino. And the batter was none other than new manager Norifumi Nishimura. It was quite weird. Sayaka came in dressed as a bride, with a huge dress and veil and big white glove, and she crouched behind home plate and CAUGHT a pitch thrown by Ogino. The loudspeaker even yelled "Nice catch!" as opposed to the normal "Nice Pitch!"
She also wrote about it on her blog.
Darvish was pitching against Shunsuke Watanabe, but I wasn't really all that excited about it being Shunsuke Day, for obvious reasons. This year is weird.
Darvish got off to a rocky start in the first inning and loaded the bases, but then struck out two guys to end it, which made it a 3-strikeout inning. And the second inning was also 3 strikeouts and a hit. It wasn't until the 3rd inning where Lotte got a run, after The New Ogino singled, stole second while Iguchi was at bat (Iguchi struck out to make it 7 K's), stole THIRD while Tae-Kyun Kim was at bat, and then scored when Kim hit a fly ball out to center which became a sac fly. 1-0. The Marines fans were yelling Kim's name after the inning to take a bow for the RBI, but we were all like "WHY THE HELL AREN'T YOU CHEERING FOR OGINO? HE'S THE ONE WHO STOLE TWO BASES IN A ROW, WITHOUT HIM YOU HAVE NO POINTS, YOU MORONS."
Toshimasa Konta hit a solo home run in the 4th to tie it up at 1-1. One of the women in the group I was hanging out with is nicknamed "Kon-chan" because her last name is Kondoh and she loves Konta, so she was holding up her Konta sign and jumping up and down like crazy.
Tsuboi led off the top of the 5th with a single to left, and Tsuruoka bunted him up, and then we got to see Masayoshi Katoh's FIRST PROFESSIONAL HIT!!! Hooray!! And he hit this beautiful line drive out to center, it banged against the back wall for a double and Tsuboi scored, 2-1. Amidst our CCBB chance music, Toshimasa Konta came through with ANOTHER RBI hit, a single to center, and Katoh scored! 3-1! I could just imagine Konta and Darvish as the game heroes at that point, which would be pretty awesome.
And well, it sure looked like it would be that way for a while. Got to see my boy Yasutaka Hattori pitch for Lotte, and also Yoshihiro Itoh. And on the Fighters' side, Darvish lasted 6 innings and 11 strikeouts, and then Yoshinori Tateyama came in for him. I put a towel over my head and he went K-K-8 for a quick inning! Brian Wolfe also pitched a scoreless inning although it was really close, he lucked out in Iiyama managed to make a great play by jumping for a liner and doubling Saburo off 2nd base. (My friends were calling him "ELF-CHAN!" because Wolfe becomes "U-RU-FU" in katakana, which is like "E-RU-FU".)
We were also singing the Nishioka new song along with the Lotte ouendan, or more like, every time it got up to where they yell "SPEEDO-SUTAAAA" we would yell that and all giggle. This was amusing until the 9th inning when said speed star tied the damn game. The other thing was that the Kim Tae-Kyun cheer has the Korean for "kattobase" and "get a hit", except the latter seems to be "Anta", which is Japanese for "You". (Thanks to Steve, I saw this on the Marines' site.) So while the Marines fans were yelling "ANTA KIM TAE-KYUN", which is like "HEY YOU KIM TAE-KYUN", we were all yelling each others' names at each other, like "ANTA DEANNA!" which would mean "HEY YOU DEANNA!" It was pretty silly.
So anyway, that bottom of the 9th inning featured our closer Hisashi Takeda coming in and getting the first our by striking out a pinch-hitting Hisao Heiuchi. (Sigh.) Then Speed Star Nishioka got a ingle and went to second on a passed ball, and The New Ogino bunted up the first-base line but the play was late and so both runners were safe at the corners. Iguchi was hit by a pitch, dead on... so the bases were loaded for HEY YOU KIM TAE-KYUN, who singled to center and drove in Nishioka and Ogino and arrrrrrrrrrrgh 3-3. Hisashi intentionally walked Shoitsu Ohmatsu then to load the bases again, which DID work out in that Saburo grounded to short, Iiyama threw the ball home and started a 6-2-3 double play to end the inning.
There was a major WTF in the bottom of the 10th, with Miyanishi pitching for the Fighters. Nishioka singled, and then Ogino bunted again, except this time the ball was popped up in the air, so I guess Nishioka stayed at first, only the ball landed and Miyanishi threw it to first, so both Ogino AND Nishioka were doubled off the base, AND Nishioka had to be carried off the field on a stretcher. REALLY crazy.
And then to make it even CRAZIER, Tadahito Iguchi hit a SHOT out to left field, right towards us. I mean, it looked like it was going to be a home run for sure... for sure... and then it hit the left-field wall like 6 inches below the yellow line to only be a double. Thank you, Ridiculous Chiba Winds! The entire Fighters cheering section pretty much breathed a collective sigh of relief.
And that's really all there was to say about this game. Yabuta pitched two perfect extra innings and then Bill Murphy pitched a third so the Fighters couldn't win, and Masao Kida managed to get the hell out of the game without the Marines scoring too, and by the time the game ended it was already past 6pm and dark and ABSOLUTELY FREEZING OUTSIDE.
I ran into Steve of the We Love Marines blog when getting in line to take the bus to Kaihin-Makuhari station, and he was with a Japanese coworker who spoke perfect English, so the three of us ended up going to an izakaya after the game and hung out and talked baseball and other crap for a few hours. Good times. It was also really good to see Steve again, and maybe I'll take him up on his offer to do a picnic table night sometime at Chiba Marine!
I didn't go to the third game of the Marines-Fighters series today, as I have some other important things to do, but it seems to be 4-2 in the 5th inning as I finish this up, so for the love of god, Fighters, WIN A DAMN GAME ALREADY!