The Fighters played a 3-game series at the Seibu Dome this past weekend, Friday to Sunday. I skipped Friday night's game in order to go to a dinner party. I skipped Saturday's game in order to see Kagami-kun pitch. In retrospect, I should have just gone ahead and skipped Sunday's game too and watched some college baseball or minor-league baseball, but I figured it might look bad if I skipped an entire Fighters series in Kanto.
I was so sluggish getting out the door, though, that I got to the Seibu Dome at 12:48pm for a 1pm game, and then had to wait in line for tickets, which took a surprisingly long time. I guess a lot of other people were in the same boat as me, getting there at the last minute, so I could hear the cheering from outside, and I got in and joined my friends at about 1:15pm, by which point Eiichi Koyano was hitting a pop fly up behind home plate to end the top of the 2nd inning.
See, that's the crazy thing -- this game was just FAST. Both teams started lefties known for working fast; Masaru Takeda for the Fighters and Kazuyuki Hoashi for the Lions. And so, the game WENT fast. I noted on my scorecard that it was 2:05pm at the end of the top of the 5th inning. At that point the Lions were leading 1-0 on a solo home run by Takeya "Okawari-kun" Nakamura, and my friends and I had just run out of doughnuts.
Seriously, the most exciting thing that happened at all for the Fighters fans is that our mascot BB came around in the stands and harrassed the ouendan and hugged little kids...
I think our group spent the sitting-down half of the game talking about Tomoaki Kanemoto ending his consecutive innings streak and making plans to go to Sendai next weekend.
I guess the most interesting inning overall was the bottom of the 6th. Tomoaki Satoh led off with a single, and Takumi Kuriyama bunted him up, and then they intentionally walked Okawari-kun, much to the Seibu fans' chagrin. The thing is, after THAT, Dee Brown also got up to a full count -- including a foul ball into the stands that BARELY was on the wrong side of the foul pole -- and also walked. At which point two things happened: the ouendan started yelling for a "Ganbare, ganbare, Masaru!" at the same time Nashida-kantoku came out and made a pitching change to Hisashi Takeda.
"Oi, ouendan, are you PAYING ATTENTION?!" a guy yelled out, and everyone laughed.
Anyway, Hisashi Takeda's first pitch to Hisashi Takayama, Takayama hit a high foul ball to right field, and Atsunori Inaba basically followed it to the line and let it fall foul (if he had caught it, there would be a pretty good opportunity for the runner on 3rd to tag up and score). But, after that, Takayama hit a high fly ball to center anyway, and Hichori's throw wasn't in time to get Tomoaki Satoh running home, so 2-0. Then Taketoshi Gotoh singled to center through a diving Kensuke at 2nd base, and Okawari-kun scored on the play (3-0) and Brown got to third base, as Hideto Asamura ("Who the hell is that?" "Uh, he was a year behind Nakata-kun at Osaka Toin..." "So what?") struck out to end the inning.
The game was over by 3:30pm. Hoashi threw 8 innings and then Brian Sikorski did his windup thingy and got the save in the 9th as the Lions won 3-0.
Hoashi and Okawari were the game heroes.
My friends and I figured since it was early we'd go over to the adjacent Seibu minor-league stadium and see the Lions-Marines ni-gun game, maybe cheer for Koichi Hori or try to stalk Yusei Kikuchi... but then we passed a Lotte fan friend of mine who told us the game was already over, and who was somewhat surprised everyone was pouring out of the Dome. So much for that plan.
Walking towards the train station, a guy went by us wearing a black sweatshirt and black jeans, and his face was so familiar, and I'm like, "I know that guy, I know that guy!" and then one of my friends said to him, "otsukaresama desu!" and he nodded to us, so I also said it, still thinking it was a random Fighters fan friend of ours... and as he got in line to buy a ticket at the ticket gate, I realized it was KAZUNORI FREAKING YAMAMOTO! (This guy, he's a left-handed pitcher for the Fighters.) He was literally called up to the ichi-gun team THAT MORNING! I had just seen him at Kamagaya last weekend, even.
So, as it stands now, the Fighters are in absolute last place in Japan; with a 6-16-1 record they are even worse than the Yokohama Baystars at 8-12. Sheesh. And Lotte is sitting on top of a 16-6-1 record right now...