Seibu Lions starter Alex Graman had a game WHIP of 1.57, but it was just good enough to get into the eighth inning for a 6-3 victory Wednesday at Seibu Dome. Rightfielder Takahiko Sato homered and drove in two while centerfielder Shogo Akada also plated two.Graman is now 2-0 after surrendering three runs on nine hits in 7.2 innings.
Shingo Matsuzaki started for Rakuten and his five innings seemed like forevewr (109 pitches). He was charged with five runs on eight hits and now has an 0-2 record.
Rakuten's problems with runners in scoring positions continues, as they had men on second and third with one out in the second and wasted the opportunity.
The Lions snagged the game's initial
lead in the third when second baseman Yasuyuki Kataoka singled to center
with one out and
And they worked hard for a deuce in the fourth, as Sato was nailed by a pitch and DH Akira Etoh doubled to left. One out later, catcher Ginjiro Sumitani singled to left for a run and Akada flew out to left, enabling Etoh to tag up and scurry across to push it to 3-0.
Rakuten retorted with a run in the fifth on a walk to catcher Akihito Fujii, a pair of groundouts that got Fujii over to third, and a single to center by second baseman Yosuke Takasu to shrink it to 3-1.
However, Seibu saw that one and raised them another during their ups, as Matsuzaki dealt a two out walk to leftfielder Kazuhiro Wada and Sato exited center backscreen stylee and it was 5-1.
They piled on another in the sixth when Sumitani whistled a liner up the leftcenter alley and all the way to the wall for a triple. Centerfielder Shogo Akada flied out to left and Sumitani tagged up and busted in to make it 6-1.
The Eagles swooped in for two in the eighth as Graman began to lose it. Takasu reached on an infield hit, but was 86'd on a double play ball off the bat of first baseman Yuji Yoshioka. Fernandez then took Graman to the downs to left. Leftfielder Rick Short singled to left. DH Takeshi Yamasaki singled to center. Masahiro Tazaki replaced Graman and pinch hitter Kenshi Kawaguchi singled to right to get Short in and it was 6-3. Pinch hitter Daisuke Masuda struckout and Lions closer Chikara Onodera put it to rest in the ninth.
Rakuten has lost its last four and is 1-9 on the season to date. That is even worse than the beginning they experienced in 2005, 3-7. They are on pace to lose 123 games.
Graman said he worked well with the 18 year old Sumitani. But Eagles boss Katsuya Nomura wasn't so nice, sputtering, "when you see [Lions manager Tsutomu Itoh] using a high school catcher then you wonder if his other catchers suck that bad. Itoh is a former catcher, so he knows how important the position is."
For Seibu, Cabrera was 1-3 with a sac fly and is at .270.
For Rakuten, Fernandez was 1-4 and is at .211. Short was 3-3 with a walk and is at .429.
Softbank Hawks starter D.J. Carrasco
was sent down to the minor leagues after Wednesday's game, as he couldn't
get the 5-6-7 hitters in the Nippon Ham lineup out and was tattooed for
five runs on six hits in three innings for his second loss in an eventual
8-5 defeat for the birds of prey. Between them, the trio of rightfielder
Atsunori Inaba, third baseman Kuniyuki Kimoto and centerfielder Tsuyoshi
Shinjo, who was dropped from the six to the seven hole, combined for six
hits and seven RBIs on the
Corey Lee started for Nippon Ham and struggled, as he was battered by eight hits and walked three in 5.2 innings, but he limited the damage to two runs for his first win of 2006.
Softbank centerfielder Naoyuki Omura inaugurated the game with a walk and went to second on a groundout. Leftfielder Jolbert Cabrera doubled to left and Omura set the controls for the heart of home plate for a 1-0 lead. DH Nobuhiko Matsunaka singled to left. But first baseman Julio Zuleta struckout and rightfielder Kazuhiko Miyaji grounded to the mound to hold it there.
That advantage then evaporated in the bottom version when Ogasawara doubled to right with two outs and DH Fernando Seguignol walked. Inaba sintgled to right and Ogasawara flashed across. Kimoto singled to left to load the bases. Shinjo walked to force in a run and the Fighters were on top 2-1. Catcher Shinya Tsuruoka grounded out for the inning's final out.
The big guns then came out in the third. Ogasawara king konged one beyond the centerfield fence. Seguignol singled to left. The next two men struckout, but Shinjo got a fastball that if it was a novel would be titled, Fat City, and smoked it into the leftcenterfield bleachers to inflate the lead to 5-1.
In the fifth, though, Hawks second baseman Tadaatsu Nakazawa homered to left with one out for his first career roundtripper and it was 5-2. Cabrera doubled to left. One out later, Zuleta, who had struckout in his first two times up, was intentionally walked. Hisao Arakane was assigned pinch hit duty in place of Miyaji, but he gounded out.
Softbank had two on and one out in the sixth and ruined it witha couple of groundouts.
In the home edition, leftfielder Hichiro Morimoto single to center with one out and, one out later, stole second. So Seguignol was intentionally walked. Inaba singled to right and Morimoto scampered home to make it 6-2.
The Hawks just kept on coming, though. In the seventh, Cabrera singled to right, Matsunaka singled to center and Zuleta singled to right to pack the sacks. Pinch hitter Hiroshi Shibahara grounded to first and Cabrera was in. Third baseman Nobuhiro Matsuda grounded to third and Matsunaka rumbled in and they were back in it at 6-4.
Unfortunately, that was as close as they got to catching the Fighters. In the bottom of the eighth, Morimoto reached on an infield hit and, one out later, Seguignol singled to center. Inaba grounded into a 6-4 force play. Inaba stole second. Kimoto ripped a 3-2 pitch up the leftcenter alley and both runners scored on the double and Nippon Ham was much more comfortable at 8-4.
Softbank obtained one last run in the ninth on a one out walk to Matsunaka and a two out double to leftcenter on an 87mph shuuto from Shibahara that converted Matsunaka, but Matsuda went down on strikes to make it past tense.
For Nippon Ham, second baseman Jose Macias is 0-5 and is at .244. Seguignol was 2-3 with two walks and is at .351.
For Softbank, Zuleta was 1-4 with two strikeouts and is at .270. Cabrera was 3-5 and is at .308.
Orix Buffaloes closer Masanobu Okubo blew a three run ninth inning lead Wednesday at Osaka Dome and Chiba Lotte Marines catcher Tomoya Satozaki stroked a two run homer in the tenth to temrinate a four game losing skid 7-5. Reliever Yasuhiko Yabuta tossed a scoreless inning for the win while closer Masahide Kobayashi allowed the tying run to get on but hung on for his third save.
Shunsuke Watanabe started for Lotte and was victimized by a pair of two run homers during his eight innings of five run ball on eight hits, but he didn't walk anyone and that kept his side in the game.
Masato Yoshii started for Orix and pitched well, going 5.1 innings of one run ball on four hits. It is puzzling why he was taken out because he had only thrown 68 pitches before he was pulled with one out and nobody on in the sixth. Let's hope he isn't hurt.
Orix ran their way to their first lead, as rightfielder Arihito Muramatsu chopped one high off the turf and beat it out and then went to third on a perfectly executed hit and run single from centerfielder Keiichi Hirano. Leftfielder Yoshitomo Tani grounded into a 4-6-3 double play and Muramatsu crossed with a 1-0 edge.
Not much other action until the fourth when Lotte second baseman Koichi Hori singled to center and first baseman Kazuya Fukuura singled to right, Hori making a left and sliding into third. Centerfielder Saburo Omura flew out to left and Hori tagged up and crossed to knot it at one apiece.
The Buffs stampeded back in front when they had their ups, as third baseman Norihiro Nakamura got aboard on a bad hop single past short and Watanabe hung a slider tyo first baseman Hirotoshi Kitagawa and Kitagawa blistered it into the leftfield seats to reclaim the advantage at 3-1.
Lotte made it a one run affair once again in the seventh when DH Benny Agbayani got a fastball on the outer half of the plate and conked it into the rightcenterfield bleachers, the scoreboard now reading 3-2. They later had men on second and third in the inning and frittered it away.
But Orix returned fire in the bottom stanza when second baseman Mitsutaka Goto singled to center and shortstop Masahiro Abe, not usually much of a threat to go deep, got one of Watanabe's 80mph fastballs on the inner half of the plate and yanked it into the leftfield stands to put his squad up 5-2.
Okubo, though, was just a little out of sorts when he enterd from the bullpen for the ninth. With one out, Agbayani singled to center and leftfielder Matt Franco singled to right. Satozaki was thrown a 2-2 fastball on the outer half of the plate and barely tucked it into the rightfield seats for a 5-5 tie. Backup centerfielder Akira Otsuka laced a ball to deep centerfield, but Hirano ran it down. The next two men went down more quietly and Yabuta pitched out of a two on, two out pinch to put it into extra innings.
Jun Hagiwara took the ball for Orix for the top of the tenth and Fukuura singled to center with one out. Following another out, Agbayani got a fastball down and in and lowered the boom on it, leaving the ball in the leftfield stands and Lotte had its first lead of the ballgame at 7-5.
Kobayashi, who can be a bit of an adventure at times, was tagged for a leadoff single to right in the last of the inning by Muramatsu. Two fourceouts later, he walked Nakamura. Kitagawa, though, grounded a 92mph fastball to short and Lotte carted off a W.
For Orix, DH Karim Garcia was 2-3 and is at .235.
For Lotte, Agbayani was 3-5 and is at .308. Franco was 4-5 and is at .345. Rightfielder Val Pasucci was 0-2 and is at .150.
internet content provider USEN announced that they will be streaming free
netcasts of Chiba Lotte Marines home games beginning Thursday Japan Time.
However, when I went over to their site and tried to view some of their
content, there were technical problems and I think it may be a rights issue,
that those of us in the U.S. aren't allowed to view it, which is extremely
shortsighted and stupid if that is the case. Moreover, before they will
allow you to view of any of their content they ask for personal information
(similar to what a lot of newspapers online do these days), but the whole
thing is in Japanese and those of you with no Japanese ability and who
don't know how to generate a Japanese zip code are pretty much shit out
of luck. Consequently, I will not list the Marines broadcasts at this time
until I can find out if they will come up with an interface that will be
easier for me to direct non-Japanese speakers to. I have an aquaintance
in the front office with Lotte, so I have written him about my concerns
and we'll see what happens from there.
Orix The team announced that they are in the process of acquring Atlanta minor league pitcher Wes Obermueller. Things are expected to be wrappe up sometime late next week. No workd on when he might report, though.