This just in: Bill Murphy continues to be awesome. It’s 11 starts on the year and now 9 wins for the Californian lefty.
I took a half day holiday to celebrate the start of the season’s “second half”, and to pay another visit to Seibu Dome. It hasn’t gone well for me so far this year – two visits, two losses. This was sure to be different. After all, I took a holiday, so surely the team would repay that. And just to tempt fate – I brought The Darned Hat.
Surely, indeed. Murphy got into a bit of a rough patch in the first two innings, but after a talk from coach Nishimoto he settled down and dominated the home Lions. He yielded two in the first and nothing after, and the offense gradually ate into the lead and then put the game away in a very nice 5-3 victory. Ii, ne!
We had a blast at this one. Katsu and I took seats in a pretty empty section of the infield unreserved seats (What?!?!??? Plenty of seats at a midweek Seibu game??? Unheard of. Oh wait, they don’t sell out playoff games.) and I decided to lead the cheering. I got quite a few people around me to join in – there was the older gentlemen sitting alone, the two nice girls and their mother, the mom and two young boys, the lone salaryman, and the middle-aged couple (I better watch that – they were probably my age, actually!). All were ready to give their best to cheer the team on.
It was so hot in the stadium – not just because it was so hot outside (and oh it was) but also because Seibu Dome basically sucks all air circulation out of the vicinity. It was OK if you didn’t move an inch, but if you were running from section to section, high-fiving everyone around you it got real hot, real quick. Fortunately, the one redeeming value of Seibu Dome is the nice food and drink service – a young woman strolled by selling frozen oranges, which really, really hit the spot. She was also selling “Lions Water”, I asked if she was selling “Lotte Victory Water” but the answer was a confused no. So it goes.
Anyway, as I said Murphy got himself into a spot of bother in the first, so the kitty cats held an early 2-0 lead. In the third Satozaki decided to cut into that lead all on his own, jacking a big tall one to the outfield. The bat was flipped. Over the fence, the fans were in delirium – well, at least the ones that count. It was a nice follow-up for his nice HR in the All Star Game on Saturday. I went round and round, high fiving all I could…
Saburo tied things up in the 4th with a run-scoring single. Iiiiii, neeeee. This time the ‘middle aged’ couple both ran down to high five me – we ended up hugging and jumping up and down like fools. Is it October or still July? It doesn’t matter in fandom.
Murphy looked just fabulous after settling down. He ended up going just shy of a full 7, giving up 4 hits (and the two runs) with 6 K’s to boot. It’s yet another quality start. Where would our last few months be without him in the rotation?
The game slipped on. Nishioka speared a bullet from the bat of Kuriyama to stop a rally in its tracks in the 5th – as pretty a catch as you will see. The good pitching, the nice D, the fly balls getting hit by Lotte bats – you knew something good had to happen. Lucky 7 – still a 2-2 game. Saburo flies out to deep center, and Fukuura comes to the plate. B-l-a-m-m-o! A huge, line drive blast to the deepest part of the park!!! 3-2 Lotte, and bedlam, as expected. Finally, we get to crank up the anti-Seibu song!
It’s more of a pro-Lotte than anti-Seibu song, but when it comes out you just know good stuff is happening. My well-spaced-out friends and I sing lustily.
A few more runners get on, and 3B substitute Hosoya Kei (Imae has a gimpy shoulder) drives in another run, pushing the score to 4-2! Iiiii, neeee!!!
Ohmatsu put the cherry on the cupcake with a beefy power pop fly that looked like it barely missed the ceiling but definitely didn’t miss going over the fence. 5-2 Lotte! Kobayashi came in to mop things up in the 9th – he gave up a run, Seibu fans got a bit of false hope, and Lotte (of course) won anyway. It’s just the natural order of things.
A few more bouncy hugs later, and after song after enjoyable song the ouendan drifted home. It was great to see my first road win at Seibu this year, and a lovely way to kick off the home stretch.
Update – on Wednesday Watanabe Shunsuke and the Lotte bats combined to put a major beating on Seibu, 9-4. With that, Seibu is consigned to third, and the weekend series with Daiei gets even more meaning. It’s going to be a great one!