The Seibu Lions roughed up Chiba Lotte Marines closer Masahide Kobayashi for four runs in the ninth to surmount the fact that they had been a run behind for a 5-2 victory at Chiba Marine Stadium. That frustrated Lotte starter Shunsuke Watanabe, who went eight innings of one run, five hit ball while striking out nine and walking three on 114 pitches and was tendered only a no decision.
Thus the Lions ninth inning bonanza was to the benefit of their starter, Fumiya Nishiguchi, who is now 4-0 after eight innings of two run (one earned), four hit ball on a mere 89 pitches.
Lotte went out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka grounded to third baseman Takeya Nakamura, who muffed it for an error, and catcher Tomoya Satozaki singled to center. Leftfielder Benny Agbayani grounded to shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima, who flipped to second baseman Yasuyuki Kataoka, who gunned it to first, but Agbayani was safe. First baseman Julio Zuleta flied out to left and Nishioka tagged up and busted in.
The Lions lineup was rendered hitless for the first three innings. But in the fourth, Kataoka doubled to rightcenter and Yoshihito Ishii singled to right to usher Kataoka in for a 1-1 tie.
That was dissolved in the last of the inning when Zuleta got a fastball up and out over the plate and socked it into the leftfield seats to go up 2-1.
Seibu loaded the bases in the fifth on a two out error by rightfielder Takahiko Sato, a walk and an infield single. However, Kataoka struckout and that was that.
Lotte put men on second and third on a couple of singles and a wild pitch with nobody out in the home edition, but a groundout, a strikeout and a flyout ditched it. They wouldn't obtain any more hits until the ninth.
Seibu had two on and nobody out in the seventh, but that was interdicted by a pair of strikeouts and a groundout.
Both starters had little trouble in the eighth and handed it off to their respective bullpens. Kobayashi walked the first hitter of the inning, leftfielder Kazuhiro Wada, who went to second on a sacrifice. Kobayashi plunked Sato. The runners advanced on a groundout. Pinch hitter Hiroyuki Oshima blooped a single into left and two runs scored. Centerfielder Kazuki Fukuchi grounded to Zuleta, who made a bad toss to Kobayashi covering and Oshima crossed on the error while Fukuchi sped all the way to third. Kataoka doubled to leftcenter and Fukuchi eased in for a 5-2 advantage.
For Lotte, Agbayani was 0-3 and is at .240. Zuleta was 2-2 with a walk and a sac fly and is at .276. Rightfielder Matt Watson was 0-3 and is at .276.
For Seibu, first baseman Alex Cabrera was 0-4 and is at .277. Jeff Liefer was 0-1 in a pinch hit appearance and is at .263.
Nippon Ham starter Yu Darvish didn't give the Rakuten Golden Eagles all that much in the first four innings, but after that it was effectively over, as he hampered them on a hit from the fifth on in a complete game five hitter for a 5-1 victory at Sapporo Dome. The increasingly less lanky righty struckout nine and totaled up 114 pitches to display good pitch economy. He actually didn't have very good control of his curve and slider at the beginning, but his two seamer was really moving and so the Eagles lineup saw that a lot.
Koji Aoyama started for the Eagles and went six innings of two run, seven hit ball to erode his record to 2-2.
The Fighters had two on and nobody out in the second and, later inthe inning, the bases loaded and two out, but shortstop Makoto Kaneko flew out to center.
Rakuten had a man on in each of the first three innings, but they loitered. In the fourth, though, rightfielder Koichi Isobe singled to right and somehow ended up at second. One out later, leftfielder Rick Short singled to center and it was 1-0. That would be their last knock until the eighth.
In the bottom of the fourth, Nippon Ham had two on and one out, but that was deep sixed on a groundout and a lineout.
The fifth, though, would prove more fruitful. Centerfielder Hichori Morimoto beat out a ground ball. He took off on a hit and run and second baseman Kensuke Tanaka chopped a ball over the head of third baseman Jose Fernandez and Morimoto went into third on the single. Leftfielder Tomochika Tsuboi flied out to left and Morimoto tagged up and crossed. First baseman Fernando Seguignol walked. Rightfielder Atsunori Inaba singled to center and Tanaka found paydirt to claim a 2-1 lead.
That was enlarged in the eighth, as catcher Shinji Takahashi singled to center with one out and DH Tomoyuki Oda laid down a sac bunt. But reliever Akira Matsumoto decided to go to second for the attempted to force and it was late. One out later, shortstop Makoto Kanekot doubled to left and drove in two runs. Morimoto singled to right and Kaneko tooled home while Morimoto snuck into second on the throw home. One out later, leftfielder Tomochika Tsuboi singled to left and Morimoto was in to widen it to 6-1. Darvish retired the side in order in the top of the ninth and it was a memory. Darvish now has a personal winning streak of 12.
Eagles shot caller Katsuya Nomura said after the game that his hitters can handle pitchers who throw in the mid to high 80's, but can't touch anyone who can get it up there in the 90's.
For Rakuten, Fernandez was 0-3 and is at .213. Short was 1-2 with a walk and is at .314. First baseman Kevin Witt was 0-3 with two strikeouts and is at .174.
For Nippon Ham, Seguignol was 3-4 with a walk and is at .302. Third baseman Andy Green was 0-3 with a walk and is at .204.
Softbank starter Kazumi Saito is still having control problems, but it's about results and Orix dented him for only two runs on eight hits and four walks over seven innings, but Buffaloes moundsman Tom Davey was better, seven innings, two runs (one earned), eight hits and five strikeouts with no walks, but neither man was accrded anything for their outings and it went into ten innings, where Orix reliever Chihiro Kaneko was erratic and incurred a 4-2 loss.
Hawks reliever Akihiro Yanase was given his first pro victory after 1.1 perfect innings.
Softbank had two on and two out in the second and that faded away on a groundout. Two flyouts crushed a two on and one out opportunity in the home portion. A strikeout subsequently halted a two on and two out chance in the third for the herd as well.
But in the fourth, first baseman Nobuhiko Matsunaka singled to right with one out and third baseman Hiroki Kokubo singled to left on a hit and run to get Matsunaka over to third. Centerfielder Naoyuki Omura flied out to center and Matsunaka tagged up and crossed. Kokubo stole second and went to third when catcher Takeshi Hidaka's peg was wild. DH Brian Buchanan singled to right and Omura made a beeline to the pay station and a 2-0 lead.
That was sliced in half in the fifth when centerfielder Keiichi Hirano singled to left and went to second on a sacrifice. Third baseman Greg LaRocca singled to left and Hirano set the controls for the heart of home plate to make it 2-1. DH Tuffy Rhodes walked. But first baseman Hirotoshi Kitagawa grounded into a twin killing to bog the offensive progress down.
They would tie it in the sixth, as leftfielder Arihiro Muramatsu singled to right and, one out later, second baseman Mitsutaka Goto singled to right, Muramatsu turning and burning for third. Hidaka flied out to center and Muramatsu tagged up and galloped in to put it at 2-2.
Softbank had two on and two out in the seventh and a strikeout put an end to that. A double play ball spoiled the party for the Buffs in the home half.
Orix reliever Kishida struckout the side in the bottom of the seventh, but had to endure having two runners on the basepaths while doing so.
Muramatsu reached second in the eighth and just stood there as a popup and a strikeout ensued. That would be Orix' last baserunner.
It went into extra innings and Kaneko took the hill for Orix in the tenth. Leftfielder Hitoshi Tamura walked and, one out later, Kokubo doubled down the leftfield line. Omura was intentionally walked to pitch to Buchanan. But he walked on a 3-2 delivery and the Hawks were up 3-2. A wild pitch enabled Kokubo to score to make it 4-2 before Kaneko struck the next two men out.
Takahiro Mahara wrapped it up 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth.
Kokubo only had two bag thefts his last three seasons before the one Saturday.
Hirano hurt his right leg in the fifth and had to come out. Shortstop Masahiro Abe then experienced some discomfort in his elbow and was also removed. And third baseman Makoto Shiozaki was hit in the left cheekbone in the eighth and was taken to hospital, where x rays found no fractures. They are all considered day to day for now.
For Orix, LaRocca was 2-2 with two walks and is at .400. Rhodes was 1-3 with two walks and is at .246.
For Softbank, Buchanan was 2-4 with a walk and is at .359. C.J. Nitkowski also got into the game and tossed two thirds of an inning to pare his ERA to 1.59.
|Lotte Reliever Satoru Komiyama is the most senior Waseda alumnus still playing pro ball and said Saturday that he didn't watch his alma mater's Opening Day on television because, "it may be rude to say this, but it was because it was against [perennial doormat) Tokyo University." Komiyama then added that there was pressure on Saito from the perspective that he would have lost face if he had gotten hit around by such a weak team on the first day of the season, so that Saito delivered the kind of showing he did pleased Komiyama.|