Wednesday, September 28, 2016
2016 Seibu Lions Weekly Digest: Kishi wins last game, Fighters clinch pennant to end the season
The Saitama Seibu Lions had one short homestand to end the 2016 season. Worst yet, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters entered with a chance to celebrate a pennant, something the Lions saw last year with the Softbank Hawks in Fukuoka.
The first game involved Mitsuo Yoshikawa and Takayuki Kishi. To start the game, Yoshikawa would hit Shogo Akiyama with early jitters. He then gave up a two-run home run immediately to Shuta Tonosaki, his second in as many games and the third of his career.
Kishi retired the first 11 batters he faced and it wasn't until a throwing error from Tonosaki where the Fighters got their first base runner. Daikan Yoh's speed rushed a throw from third base to secure him being safe. Kishi allowed his first base hit in the 5th inning when Hiromi Oka hit a clean single to centerfield.
Yoshikawa appeared to have settled in, but he allowed a solo home run to Ginjiro Sumitani in the bottom of the 5th for an insurance run.
The first threat for the Fighters would be right when the third time through the lineup would strike in the 6th. Kishi gave up two base hits with one out. Yoh would flyout and Kishi got Sho Nakata to strikeout and end the chance.
A leadoff walk gave the Fighters life in the 7th and Shohei Otani doubled for a two out chance. Passing 100 pitches, Kishi would paint the inside corner and get Takuya Nakashima to strikeout for his 7th of the game and the Houdini.
Kazuhisa Makita had a clean 8th inning and Tatsushi Masuda got a double play to end the game. The Lions would put the Fighters' pennant clinching party on hold for one night as the Hawks would defeat the Marines.
Lions 3, Fighters 0
-Shuta Tonosaki started at 3B for the second straight game.
-The Lions deactivated Shinsaburo Tawata and Yuji Kaneko. As a result of Kaneko gone, his season would end as he suffered a recent groin injury. They brought up Masato Kumashiro in his place and he came in as a late inning substitution.
For the season finale, it would be the battle of pitchers from Hanamaki Higashi high school in Shohei Otani and Yusei Kikuchi. There was no scoring for three innings, until Brandon Laird hit a solo home run in the fourth inning.
It would be all about Otani for the night, where he would strikeout 15 batters and allowed only one hit to Tomoya Mori in the 5th inning. Tatsuyuki Uemoto would pinch hit and have the Lions's only walk. By going the distance, Otani secured the pennant for the Fighters and the team celebrated in Seibu Dome.
Fighters 1, Lions 0
-Atsushi Okamoto announced his retirement and was given one final batter to face. He struck out Shota Ono in the 7th inning.
-This is the fourth time in the last six years the Lions have had to see a pennant clinching party in front of their eyes. Previously they saw the Hawks celebrate in 2011 and 2015, while the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles partied in 2013.
The season was over as early as the end of June. Despite the sour note to end the year, there was progress we saw. Plenty of pitchers the Lions couldn't beat in 2015, were defeated in 2016. This list includes Rick van den Hurk, Shota Takeda, Ayumu Ishikawa and even Otani himself.
While the Lions are now done for the year, we thank everyone who has been a loyal reader throughout the season. Our content will not go away and we will have a special podcast to discuss the playoffs.
There is also preparation for the draft and other offseason moves where it should remain interesting.
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Posted by Christian Gin at 12:20 PM