Saturday, March 20, 2010

Liveblogging: Opening Day! Fighters vs. Hawks @ Sapporo Dome

The game's on BS1, so I don't have to figure out the new pay-to-view streaming video thing!

Getting this up to speed in a moment. The pregame is already on, with some elementary school choir girls singing the national anthem...


Honda 2b Kensuke 2b
Kawasaki ss Nioka dh
Ortiz lf Inaba rf
Kokubo 1b Shinji 1b
Tamura?! rf Itoi cf
Lee Bum-ho dh Koyano 3b
"Wall" Hasegawa cf NAKATA SHO OMG lf
Matsuda 3b Tsuruoka c
Tanoue c Kaneko! ss

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Sugiuchi (15-5, 2.36) Darvish (15-5, 1.73)

Feel free to ping me in comments or on email/IM if you want to chat about the game!

Wow, didn't realize Darvish and Sugiuchi had the same W/L record last year. It's funny given that Sugiuchi is barely bigger than me.

Weird to see an opening day lineup for the Hawks without Nobuhiko Matsunaka on it, but he's still recovering from knee surgery and working out in the minors. Poor guy.

Top of the first (F 0, H 0)
Honda strikes out swinging. Kawasaki catches an outside pitch on his bat and lines out to short. Ortiz strikes out swinging too!

Nice start for Darvish!

Bottom of the first (F 0, H 0)
Kensuke grounds out to second. Nioka hits a pop fly out to right (caught at second). Inaba fouls a few off before striking out.

(It's nice to see that the crowd still does the clapping to Sky High for Nioka.)

Top of the second (F 0, H 2)
Kokubo leads off with a single to right... and Tamura follows it up with a single to center past a diving Kaneko, Kokubo going to second. Lee bunts up the right side, advancing the runners. Hasegawa grounds to first and... and Shinji can't get ahold of the ball, and by the time he's got it under control, all runners are safe, Kokubo scoring on the error. 1-0. Matsuda grounds to short -- Kaneko to Kensuke is an out at second but Matsuda slides in headfirst at first base ahead of the tag (ugh, I hate headfirst slides, though at least his, he slid onto his stomach instead of just reaching out with his fingers). Tamura scores, 2-0. Tanoue... well, the first pitch bounces in the dirt and Tsuruoka can't block it, so Matsuda is off to second base. Anyway, Tanoue eventually hits a high pop fly that is caught by Kensuke Tanaka to end the inning.


It's 1:30pm and I just put in my laundry, so I have to remember to go add fabric softener at 2:10pm.

Bottom of the second (F 0, H 2)
Shinji leads off with a single to center. Itoi grounds one up the middle, off Sugiuchi's glove, and Kawasaki dives to get it and, while still on the ground, without even transferring the ball out of his glove, flicks the ball to Honda at 2nd to get Shinji on a fielder's choice. Koyano... well, during Koyano's at-bat Sugiuchi makes a pickoff throw and totally catches Itoi with a huge lead, so a rundown ensues and Itoi is out. Anyway, Koyano eventually grounds out to second to end the inning.

Top of the third (F 0, H 3)
Honda strikes out swinging, dropped third pitch thrown to first. Kawasaki singles to center. Ortiz... watches Kawasaki steal second, and then strikes out swinging. Kokubo singles to left and Nakata throws the ball in but it's way over the plate, so Kawasaki scores and Kokubo makes it to second. 3-0. Tamura strikes out swinging to end the inning.

I don't really blame Sho Nakata for that one -- Kawasaki was already off running on the hit, it would have probly been pretty hard for most people actually make that an out at the plate.

Wow, look at Kokubo strutting around with that big "C" on his uniform.

Bottom of the third (F 1, H 3)
Sho Nakata strikes out swinging. Tsuruoka grounds out to third. Kaneko singles to center! Yay! Kensuke walks, so there are two on. Nioka singles to left! Kaneko scores!! 3-1 Two runners on still! Inaba JUMP! lines out to third :(

Still, we got a run! Hooray.

Top of the fourth (F 1, H 3)
Lee got hit by a pitch but I was putting in fabric softener so I didn't see where. Hasegawa bunted him up. Matsuda strikes out. Tanoue hits a pop fly out to center.

They keep showing flashbacks to Akiyama and Nashida as players, it's kinda wacky.

Bottom of the fourth (F 1, H 3)
Shinji strikes out. Itoi singles to right! Koyano doubles to center, and Itoi goes to third! Nakata Sho walks, and the bases are loaded! Tsuruoka strikes out, sadly. Kaneko... grounds out up the first-base line, Sugiuchi throwing the ball to first. Argh. :(

Top of the fifth (F 1, H 4)
Honda hits a pop fly out to center, but Kawasaki singles to center. Kawasaki steals second AGAIN during Ortiz's atbat. Ortiz strikes out, whew. Kokubo doubles to center, over Itoi and hitting the back wall, and Kawasaki scores easily. 4-1. Tamura strikes out! Whew.

It has just been brought to my attention that the Giants are CLOBBERING the Baystars over at the Tokyo Dome right now -- it's the 6th inning and the Giants are already up 15-1 -- Daisuke "Hama no Bancho" Miura started for Yokohama and gave up 14 runs (9 earned) in 4 innings. Holy crap. That's two home runs apiece for Sakamoto and Ogasawara and Yoshinobu, as well as one each for Edgar Gonzalez and Shinnosuke Abe.

On the other hand, I will point out that Bancho has one terrible game EVERY pre-season IIRC -- I was there when he was down 10-1 after 4 innings at Jingu last year, but he came back to have a reasonable year. Good to get it out of his system before it counts, right?

Bottom of the fifth (F 1, H 4)
Kensuke hits a pop fly out to center. Nioka singles to left! Inaba hits a pop fly out to left. Shinji grounds out to second to end the inning. Doh.

Time for YMCA! Hey, it's actually English words instead of Hideki Saijo's "Youngman"... wacky.

Top of the sixth (F 1, H 4)
Lee strikes out. Hasegawa grounds out to third. Matsuda grounds out.

Great, it's time for La La La Fighters, the Fukuhara Miho pop song that was really grating on me last year, but after a winter of getting semi-decent at singing it at karaoke, I don't hate it nearly as much (but still vastly prefer Hayami Kentaro's "Fighters Spirits", the Kamagaya song). Fortunately, BS1 saves us from the song by showing highlights of the game.

Bottom of the sixth (F 3, H 4)
Itoi walks and Koyano singles to center! Sho Nakata almost gets hit in the foot with a pitch, the pitch bounces in the dirt and both runners advance on it. Anyway, NAKATA SINGLES TO LEFT!!! and both runners score and the organ plays Popeye the Sailor Man for some reason and whatever, I'll take it. 4-3! Kazuya Murata pinch-runs for Sho Nakata at first base. Tsuruoka comes up bunting and is successful, Murata to second! And finally some Genghis Khan chance music! Hooray. Kaneko hits a grounder up the first-base line, and Kokubo makes a nice dive to get it and back to the base in time for the out, Murata advancing to third. Kensuke... grounds out to short :(

Time for Izayuke Wakataka Gundan, the Hawks theme, except again, BS1 cuts away from it. Teehee.

I would like to say right now that seriously -- you know how I spent two years making fun of Sho Nakata and all -- but if he's going to actually continue working his butt off and stop being such a jackass this year, I will support him. It's nice to see him grow up, basically.

Top of the seventh (F 3, H 4)
Tanoue strikes out. Honda also strikes out. Kawasaki barely misses a grounder to right that goes just foul, and then hits a grounder to third instead that Koyano snags and gets to first just in time. Three down!

Bottom of the seventh (F 3, H 4)
Pitching change: Sugiuchi out, Tadashi Settsu in.

Nioka singles to center! Inaba JUMP!!! shakes the centerfield cameras -- and Inaba himself strikes out :( Shinji sadly hits into a 4-6-3 double play and that ends the inning.

Oh, I forgot to mention this, but during the earlier innings, finalized plans to go to Koshien next week for Senbatsu! (with Shinigami from the forums.) We'll be there on Tuesday and Wednesday and part of Thursday! If you're going or live in the Osaka area and want to hang out and chat baseball, drop me a line!

Top of the eighth (F 3, H 4)
Darvish is up to 118 pitches but is apparently continuing to pitch... 11 strikeouts already!

Ortiz hits a pop fly out to right. Kokubo strikes out! That's 12! Tamura grounds to short, Kaneko throws the ball to first, but it bounces in the ground and Shinji can't get it and hold onto it for the out, so Tamura is safe. Not sure if that's a shortstop error or a first baseman error (probly the former). Lee hits a high pop fly and Kensuke makes the catch to end the inning.

Anyone want to take bets on when Tamura gets injured for the first time this season, by the way?

And the other PL games are OVER:
Seibu beats Lotte 2-1. Naruse had a no-no into the 6th inning, lost it and lost the game (two solo homers by Hiroyuki Nakajima and Dee Brown, apparently), and even BETTER, Brian Sikorski made the save against his former team. Eat THAT, Lotte front office!
The Buffaloes beat Rakuten 1-0. Man, that's harsh. Poor Iwakuma. He and Chihiro Kaneko both went the distance, Iwakuma throwing 107 pitches and Kaneko 106; the only RBI was on a Keiji Ohbiki hit. Hosei pride, yo.

Bottom of the eighth (F 3, H 4)
Brian Falkenborg takes over on the mound for the Hawks.

Itoi hits a grounder up the first base line. Kokubo throws it to Falkenborg, but Falk and Itoi both reach the bag at the same time and the tie seems to go to Itoi for an infield hit. Koyano sadly strikes out. Kazuya Murata! comes up to bat and scoops one out of nowhere, loops it to third, where it JUST bounces out of Matsuda's glove, for a hit. And here's pinch-hitting Tsuboi, who we saw in the on-deck circle a bit ago!!! But rather than the Tsuboi fanfare they're playing the Kita no Kuni Kara chance theme. Anyway, Tsuboi... grounds up the right-field line. Kokubo gets the ball and throws to second in time to get Murata, but the relay back to first is not in time to catch Tsuboi (Falkenborg comes in to cover, and collides with Kokubo). So, runners at the corners for Kaneko... who unfortunately hits a pop fly out to right. Doh.

Top of the ninth (F 3, H 5)
Darvish is still out there pitching. Shota Ohno has taken over the catching duties for the Fighters.

Hasegawa strikes out (there's number 13). Matsuda hits a biiiiiig one out there to the gap in right-center and makes it all the way around to third for a triple, yikes. Tanoue hits a pop fly to right but the relay is not in time... so it's a sacrifice and Matsuda scores, 5-3. Honda hits a fly out to left to end the inning.

Last chance... it'll be pretty sad if Darvish throws a complete game and strikes out 13 and still loses, really.

Bottom of the ninth (F 3, H 5)
Closer Takahiro Mahara is in for the Hawks.

Kensuke hits a pop fly to short. Nioka grounds out to second. So it's down to Inaba... Inaba strikes out and that's the game, Hawks win it 5-3.

How sad.

Kokubo is the game hero. "How do you feel right now? Good opening game?" "Well... uhh... there are 143 more games after this, but sure, it's nice to win the opener. Getting 5 runs off of Darvish is pretty damn good for us, too."

Two screenshots (well, camera shots of the TV...)

Hello, Mr. Captain, sir.

Final score, with the Kokubo banner in the Hawks stands.

I would like to humbly submit that Kawasaki is equally responsible for Kokubo being game hero, as Kokubo doesn't get those RBIs if Kawasaki doesn't get on base, steal second, and run his butt off to home on the Kokubo hits. I mean, yeah, Kokubo did score the first Hawks run of the game, I'm just saying.

Tomorrow's game is on BS1 again, but I'm not sure whether I'll live blog or not.

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