Thursday, October 01, 2009

Game 103 Photopost: Toyo vs. Chuo - Almost Perfect

Today was 都民の日 at my school, so I was able to spend the afternoon down at Jingu Stadium catching my one Tohto League game of the fall season. (I simply can't go to weekday afternoon games anymore for the most part, except when these scheduling blips happen.) In theory I'm a Toyo University fan, so I wanted to go see them, and thus targetted the afternoon game with them playing against Chuo. (Sadly, this means I missed Nao Higashihama pitching in the morning for Asia-dai, but hey, I have a few more years to see him play.)

The dumb thing is, I was kind of hoping to see Toyo's Masahiro Inui pitch. I even sat on the first-base side in the hopes of getting good shots of him, since he's a lefty. But no, righty Keisuke Kanuma started for Toyo. Kanuma wears #18 now in the wake of the recently departed Hiroki Ueno, my Lotte 2009 ni-gun ichi-gun WHATEVER boyfriend, and while technically results-wise I suppose he is wearing it as well as Ueno did, he's not nearly as much fun to watch pitch. (And for the record, crazy as catcher Takeshi Saika is, he's no Shota Ohno either.)

Chuo also put up a righty starter, Yuuhi Yamasaki. I'd never seen or heard of him before, I'll admit -- but let me tell you that I WILL be keeping an eye on him for the foreseeable future. Because, and I am not making this up, Yamasaki had a perfect game going for 6 and 2/3 innings. He retired the first 20 Toyo batters he faced, without a single one reaching base. Ultimately he would pitch 8 innings of 2-hit ball, striking out 8 and walking none.

Infact, there isn't a lot to report in terms of game action in this game BECAUSE it was such an insane pitcher's duel. Yamasaki was DEALING, but at the same time, while Kanuma was allowing scattered runners here and there, he ALSO wasn't giving anything up, until Chuo team captain and Hokkaido native Kenta Mima hit a solo home run into the left-field stands to lead off the 7th inning.

That was the ONLY run scored in the entire game.

Hirokazu Sawamura, who I'm at least a little familiar with, pitched the bottom of the 9th, and while Toyo managed to get Ryo Hayashizaki all the way to third base, he was left standing there as the game ended with a score of 1-0.

Here's the box score. I'm not making this up.

It wouldn't be hard for me to tell you all the baserunners in the game:

Chuo -
1st inning, Kei Suginuma, hit by a pitch on his back. Bunted to second, left standing there.
2nd inning, Yuki Murayama, walked. Left standing on first.
3rd inning, Kei Suginuma again, legitimate single to right (first hit of the game). Stole second, left standing there.
5th inning, Yoshihito Itai, doubled into the right-field corner. Made it to third on a grounder, left standing there.
7th inning, Kenta Mima home run. Yoshihito Itai single to left, Issei Endoh single through a diving 3rd baseman, also to left, advanced Itai to second, and they were left standing there.
8th inning, Kei Suginuma grounded to 3rd, but 3B Daichi Suzuki dropped the ball, recovered it, threw to first, and drew the first baseman off the bag for an error. Suginuma was bunted up, and a bit later Kenta Mima walked. They were both left on base.

7th inning, Takafumi Sakai singled to left. Stayed on first.
8th inning, Takumi Horikoshi singled to center. Was bunted up by Saika, left on second.
9th inning, Ryo Hayashizaki walked. Moved to second on a bunt, moved to third on a grounder, stayed there as Sakai struck out to end the game.

And that's it.

So, on that note, here are a whole ton of photos from the game instead. I feel kind of silly posting them when I'm so far behind on cropping my Tokyo Big 6 photos, but hey, this is my one Tohto game of the year as opposed to going to Big 6 fairly often, hopefully.

First, here is Yuuhi Yamasaki, the kid who was perfect for two-thirds of the game:

(The final one is shortly after Sakai got the first Toyo hit of the game, and the manager came out to the mound, probly to say "Okay, kid, your perfect game is gone, how do you feel?")

Next is Keisuke Kanuma, the Toyo starter, who was almost as ferocious, but not quite:

(He kind of has the "pile-of-arms-and-legs" thing going for him like Rikkio's Tohmura, but he isn't quite as tall.)

And last but not least, Hirokazu Sawamura, who pitched and won the entire game for Chuo on Tuesday, and closed out the 9th inning of this game:

He's quite distinctive-looking. You might notice I ran over to the 3rd-base side to take photos of him -- I really should have gone one inning earlier and also gotten Yamasaki from that side. Alas.

The rest of these photos are just in the order I took them, and not particularly organized:

Seiya Inoue, Chuo's somewhat large first baseman. He's 180cm/99kg, which is fairly big for a Japanese guy, but not quite as big as Okawari-kun at 175cm/102kg, or worse, Asia-dai's Ryoji Nakata, who weighs in at a whopping 115kg for a 171cm-tall frame. Nakata seriously looks like a sumo wrestler hiding in a baseball uniform.

Kei Suginuma getting hit by a pitch in the first inning.

Takeshi Saika catching a foul ball in the 2nd inning.

The aforementioned 2-hit Yoshihito Itai.

Suginuma, looking kind of determined.

Suginuma steals second. The throw was wide and ricocheted off Toyo captain and second baseman Shuhei Kojima, who had to scramble to recover it. (He's the one with his butt up in the air after falling over.)

Toyodai cheer girls. There were maybe 5 of them total. Tohto doesn't get quite the same attendance.

I think there were also about 5 people in their marching band.

The aforementioned captain Shuhei Kojima.

Takafumi Sakai, who would get the hit to break the perfect game.

Ryo Hayashizaki hitting a foul.

Toyo manager Akio Takahashi advises Hayashizaki about... something...? in the middle of his at-bat. Whatever it was, it didn't work as Hayashizaki struck out.

Yamasaki still has a perfect game through 6 innings (check out all those 0's).

High fives at the Chuo dugout after Kenta Mima's home run.

Chuo catcher Tesshin Samejima.

A Toyo runner? On first base? Is that POSSIBLE?

Tsukasa Tsuzuki. He was a teammate and classmate of Ryota Imanari's at Urawa Gakuin.

Inoue at bat... and you can see how full the Chuo stands are behind him.

Kenta Mima, not hitting a foul ball.

Mima again, not too happy about a called strike.

Inoue is the big guy at first, and the smaller guy is pinch-runner Yuya Oda.

Daichi Suzuki.

The Toyo dugout in the bottom of the 9th... a range of emotions from "Come on, we're still only down 1-0, we can do this" and "I can't freaking believe we're about to lose our SECOND series of the season already. We're not SUPPOSED to lose. We're Toyo Freaking University. Come on."

The teams bow to each other after the game.

Final score and scoreboard.

To be honest, I left this game feeling a little bit unfulfilled -- pitcher's duels are neat, but there's very little game action, and you don't get to see nearly as big a variety of players. When you only get to see a team once per semester, it's a little bit more sad.

On the other hand, I think most of the players I care about seeing right now in the Tohto League are not seniors, so there's always next year, in theory.

I came home and watched the Fighters game on TV in the evening (both yesterday and today they were broadcast on BS1, so I could actually watch). Something amusing happened during the game where at one point, they were doing the Inaba Jump, and simultaneously, my house started shaking. As it turns out, there was a Shindo 4 earthquake in Ibaraki at about that time. It was pretty freaky though, as for a second I couldn't tell whether the screen was shaking due to the Inaba Jump or due to the earthquake.

And on another note: I nearly cried when I saw all the stuff from Tatsunami's retirement ceremony. The fact that during the game, he started at 1st base, went 3-for-4, added another double to his already-career-leading total, now at 487... it just sounds perfect. I know I don't talk about the Dragons here much anymore, but I really do adore Tatsunami and hope he continues coaching for the Dragons for a long time. He is almost the exact definition of what a Hall of Fame player should be.

(And if the Dragons release a Tatsunami doage desktop background, it might finally oust the Masa 200 one from my desktop.)

Anyway, that was a bit of a digression.

I'm off to Sapporo on Saturday morning! If only the Fighters hadn't lost tonight I'd pretty much feel guaranteed to see them clinch this weekend, but now I'm not so sure. Grr.

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