I went to the Seibu/Lotte game in Tokorozawa last night but I was in a foul mood after the game, so I didn’t blog. After a nice run in first, Lotte has lost 6 of 8 (4 of the last 5) including a close one with Seibu last night.
Lotte got on the board first with an RBI single by Imae, but an Osaki blast to deep left tied it and 2 runs in the Seibu 5th won it for the home Lions. With the loss Lotte drops out of first for the first time in many weeks.
The two runs in the 5th were very close to not scoring as Kataoka just barely beat out an infield single to first with two outs. If he doesn’t game is tied and anything can happen. Takashi Ogino almost cranked a 2-run HR to deep right but it was caught right at the top of the fence.
But TODAY, anything can happen – our starting pitcher is Ryoji Katsuki, 6th round draft pick in 2008. It’s his NPB ichi-gun debut, let’s see how it goes!
Incidentally, I ran into the Katsuki Lady from Ishigaki at Seibu Dome last night. She kept bugging me if had taken any pictures of Katsuki. I tried to tell her “He’s not here” but she was insistent. Anyway, she ran up to me when she saw me last night, wearing a Katsuki jersey of course.
Quick, quick out of the gate! Ogino pokes a meaty one-out triple, Iguchi walks, and Tae Kyun singles in Ogino! Ohmatsu smashes a double to score Iguchi, and Tae Kyun scores on a FC to Kataoka by Saburo. Seibu starter Tanaka is reeling. But Fukkura lets him off the hook with a double play. Still, a nice 3-0 start to the game.
Katsuki gets off to a nice start – ground out, center fly, center fly. He’s throwing mostly fastballs with not great velocity but they have enough on them to get the necessary outs. 3-0 Lotte.
Tsuyoshi triples with two outs and Ogino draws a walk. He steals second, but Iguchi grounds to Nakajima to end the inning with no runs in.
Katsuki gives up his first ichi-gun hit – it’s unfortunately a fat curve to “Second Helping” Nakamura. Ogino gives chase and climbs the fence but can’t reel it in. Katsuki gets the next two outs and looks like he gets Ishii to pop out for out three, but (I think, I couldn’t 100% understand the explanation) he is ruled to have made a move off the rubber before coming to the plate, so the out is nullified. Katsuki walks Ishii and Hosokawa before striking out Osaki to end it. 3-1 Lotte.
A two out single by Saburo and a walk by Fukuura set the stage – Satozaki singles up the middle to get the run back. Imae strikes out to end the inning but the run pushes it back to a 4-1 lead!
Very, very dangerous inning from Katsuki. Singles by Kataoka and Kuriyama lead off the inning and Katsuki plugs Nakajima on the elbow to load it up for Nakamura. Katsuki gets him out on a three-pitch K (out pitch a very nice inside fastball). Brown lofts a fly to Saburo that scores Kataoka but is out two, and Takayama grounds out to end the inning. 4-2 Lotte.
Tanaka is out; Okamoto is in. How will Lotte do?
Tsuyoshi walk, Ogino on via Nakajima error (it was forced by Ogino’s speed – Nakajima knew he had to get a quick release to get out Ogino and he just rushed it offline), Iguchi RBI single, Runners advance on WP, Ogino scores on another WP, Tae Kyun RBI single, Ohmatsu ground-out, Saburo RBI double. That’s how! Nice, nice inning – it’s a 6 run lead!
Ogino got pretty unlucky this inning, though it didn’t affect anything. The first WP skipped all the way into the dugout. Ogino crossed home but was sent back since the ball went dead. He scored anyway so no worries!
Ishii leads off with a single but Uemoto (pinch hitting for Hosokawa) grounds into a DP. Osaki quickly grounds out to end the inning – 8-2 Lotte!
A Tsuyoshi walk, Iguchi single, and Tae Kyun timely single all contribute to yet another run – and a 7 run lead!
But Katsuki gets himself into all sorts of trouble in the 5th, thanks to four straight singles. That scores two, but very gutty pitching by Katsuki gets the team out of the jam and limits what could have been a huge inning to just the two runs. 9-4 Lotte after 5.
It’s hard to imagine how Katsuki comes out for the 6th – I think Nishimura would have pulled him if it were the 6th or if we didn’t have such a large lead. But he has to keep Katsuki in in that situation to give him a chance at his first win, doesn’t he?
Nogami comes in for Okamoto. Hits by Fukuura and Satozaki are wasted as Imae grounds into an inning-ending DP.
Sure enough, Ohtani is in for Katsuki. Nice day for the rookie – not dominating by any means but he did enough to get his team in a position to win; that’s all he needs to do. For the record, he had 5 IP, 4 ER on 8 hits and 4 walks with 3 Ks – good enough if the bullpen does its job.
Ohtani does his job – perfect 3 up, 3 down on only 7 pitches. Good stuff! Still 9-4 Lotte.
Single by Tsuyoshi and a walk by Ogino are again wasted as Iguchi flies out, Tae Kyun strikes out (after being up 3-0) and Tsuyoshi gets thrown out at third trying to steal. For a Speedostar he sure picks bad spots to run – but hey, you can get away with this when up by 5.
Ohtani was much, much worse in the bottom of the 7th, as he took 13 pitches to get the Seibu order out 1-2-3. What a slacker! 9-4 Lotte.
A 1-2-3 Lotte 8th broken up by a Saburo infield single that was probably an error by Nakajima. The game moves along very quickly with a big lead!
Strange play in the top – Ohmatsu leans over the plate a bit after a called strike and Uemoto throws the ball off his helmet, knocking it off. Not sure if I’ve seen that one before!
Akichika Yamada takes over for Ohtani. This is followed by much quick searching – “Who the hell is Akichika?” Apparently he hasn’t pitched significantly since 2004 with Daiei. The things you don’t know!
Takayama says “Hello!” to Akichika by drilling his 4th pitch into the left field stands. Oops! Akichika settles down nicely – he sends down Ishii, Uemoto, and Osaki in order. It’s now 9-5 Lotte heading into the
Imae draws a walk, Tsuyoshi singles, and Ogino makes a very bad attempt at a sacrifice bunt. How bad? He drops it too good – he beats the throw to first. What kind of excuse for a sacrifice is that??? Did I mention he’s my New Favorite Player this year?
Anyway, Iguchi pops out to first, Tae Kyun drives a deep fly to score Imae, and Ohmatsu can’t beat a slow roller and is out at first. It’s another run, but could have been more. And yes, I want to see something like 34982 runs scored against Seibu; 10 simply will not do.
Kobayashi is in, as is Heiuchi for Tae Kyun and Minami for Saburo. Kobayashi continues the good work he’s done all year – strikeout of Kataoka, grounder by Kuriyama, (walk to Nakajima), and Nakamura pops out to end it! Game, set! A lovely 10-5 Lotte victory!
Katsuki is the obvious hero for his first victory, though really Kim Tae Kyun should have been a second hero. Why? 3-5 with 4 RBI – 4 RBI coming in 4 separate at bats, too. It’s probably the best game I’ve seen from him yet this year!
So Lotte loses the series but ends on a very good note. I think the attendance today was more than the combined attendance on Tuesday and Wednesday, so really it’s kind of like they won the series. Right? Right?????
Lotte is back in a tie for first again and is off to Fukuoka to face Daiei. We need a good showing to move back into sole possession of first!
I’m not sure how the rotation works for the Hawks series as Ono and Kawagoe may still be out. It’s probably Ohmine/Naruse/Ono (if he’s back). Edit: It’s Ohmine tomorrow. It’s time for Lotte to take a series from Daiei!
If you’ve never seen it before, the Pacific League posts all game highlights on You Tube. Here’s the highlight reel for this game.