Sunday, May 7, 2017

2017 Seibu Lions Weekly Digest: Slammed in Fukuoka, Kishi haunts former team


The Saitama Seibu Lions would spend Golden Week in Fukuoka against the Softbank Hawks before returning home for a short homestand against the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. Could they rebound from a brutal week last time?


The opener from Fukuoka would feature Alexis Candelario making his ichi-gun debut in place of Shinsaburo Tawata while facing Kodai Senga. After a strong first inning, things looked promising as Takeya "Okawari-kun" Nakamura started the game with a two-run home run while Candelario got a shutdown frame.

Everything would go downhill in the second inning as Candelario gave up a grand slam to Takuya Kai. Seiji Uebayashi would also hit a three-run bomb off Candelario in the third inning, where the night would end for the latter.

Senga would settle in after a shaky first inning by going six innings with four strikeouts. Shogo Noda and Kentaro Fukukura would combine for the final five innings of the night and give up a combined seven runs, including two HRs allowed by the latter. Nobuhiro Matsuda hit one in the 5th inning while Uebayashi added a three-run HR in the 8th.

Shuta Tonosaki hit a HR and Okawari-kun would get a second HR late in the game, but it was already too late.

Hawks 14, Lions 4

Game notes:

-Shogo Noda was ejected for a dangerous pitch to the head level of Akira Nakamura.

-Kuriyama played DH as he continued to recover from an injury.

-Hotaka Yamakawa was the corresponding deactivation move in order to make room for Candelario and his spot start.

-Candelario was deactivated after the game for Frank Garces.


Game 2 in Fukuoka at the start of Golden Week would be a matinee featuring Kona Takahashi and Nao Higashihama. This was nearly a replay of the previous game as the Lions jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the third. Sosuke Genda had an RBI triple and Asamura plated him with a single.

Things would go south in the bottom of the 4th. With two outs, Takahashi would give up a grand slam to Uebayashi and make it 4-2 Hawks. Uebayashi would add another run to make it 5-2 and end Takahashi's night after six innings. Frank Garces made his debut in the 7th inning and allowed another run on a groundout by Seiichi Uchikawa.

Higashihama mostly settled in and nearly pitched eight innings, until the Lions had a threat in the top of the 8th. With the bases loaded, Okawari-kun would ground out against reliever Sho Iwasaki to end the chance.

With this defeat, the Lions would lose their second straight and fall to .500.

Hawks 6, Lions 2

Game notes:

-Tatsuya Oishi was deactivated from the roster after reports of neck pain. Ryohei Fujiwara was called up in his place.

-The Lions would only scatter five hits on the night with chances being minimal.


The final matchup from the series would have Rick van Den Hurk against Ken Togame as the Lions tried avoiding a sweep. Togame would have a slow start by walking in the first run as he faced Hiroaki Takaya.  The Lions responded in the top of the 4th as Ernesto Mejia hit his 100th career home run in NPB for a two-run blast.

Togame failed to get a shutdown inning as Nobuhiro Matsuda hit his own two-run HR as the Hawks regained the lead. Asamura tied the game in the 5th with an RBI single, but the Hawks would pull away for good. Matsuda would get an RBI hit in the bottom of the frame and Alfredo Despaigne put the exclamation point on the game with a home run.

The Lions were able to score three runs in the top of the 7th to pull the team within one, but Okawari-kun would ground into a double play with the bases loaded to prevent any further damage and Ernesto Mejia struck out.

Brian Schlitter would have his first bad outing as he couldn't keep the game within one run. With runners on second and third, Kenji Akashi would pinch hit the catcher position and plate two runs with a timely hit. It would secure the second straight road sweeping of the Lions in 2017.

Hawks 9, Lions 6


Game 1 against the Eagles would have Yoshinao Kamata against Yusei Kikuchi. Okawari-kun would begin the scoring in the 4th with a two-run home run and the Lions never had to look back. Shuta Tonosaki and Ginjiro Sumitani would add timely hits to make it a four-run inning off Kamata.

Kikuchi would be on cruise control with the given run support, allowing only one run through seven innings with two hits and nine strikeouts. At one point, he retired 16 consecutive hitters.

Overall, it was a clean outing by both the bats and pitching with little to worry about.

Lions 7, Eagles 1


Game 2 against the Eagles would have Manabu Mima against Ryoma Nogami. This would be a laugher from the beginning as Hiroaki Shimauchi, Ryo Hijirisawa and Takero Okajima had timely hits for a combined five runs in the top of the 1st.

The only positive moment for the Lions was Shuta Tonosaki hitting two solo home runs in a losing effort. Five Eagles would have a modasho in this game and the team would combine for 20 hits. The Eagles pounded five more runs off the Lions bullpen which included Frank Garces, Shogo Noda, Ryohei Fujiwara and Kentaro Fukukura.

Having plenty of run support from the beginning, Mima would go eight innings and allow only two runs with four strikeouts, scattering four hits.

Eagles 10, Lions 2


Game 3 had Takayuki Kishi's awaited return to MetLife Dome as he started against Brian Wolfe. The Eagles struck first on a safety squeeze by Yuichi Adachi in the third inning. Carlos Peguero would send a two-run home run into the Lions Oendan to make it 3-0.

Kishi would shut down the Lions offense until the 7th inning, where he would allow back-to-back solo home runs to Okawari-kun and Mejia, but that would be the only scamper in a solid outing. He would finish the day scattering six hits and getting four strikeouts through seven innings.

The last threat against Kishi would have Daichi Mizuguchi on third base with two outs, but Fumikazu Kimura would hit an infield fly and end the chance. Wolfe would have the one bad frame in the third, but go seven innings total with four strikeouts and three hits.

Yuki Matsui would secure an Eagles victory with a clean 9th inning and the Lions would once again have a one-win week.

Eagles 3, Lions 2

Game notes:

-Kentaro Fukukura was deactivated with Ichiro Tamura called up and taking his place.

-This was the first time the Lions have lost a game when Brian Wolfe starts. They were 9-0 initially dating back to the second half of 2016.

-Kishi would be greeted with boos from the Lions Oendan, but also earned the hero interview for winning.


Winning one game a week will not get things done. Unfortunately the rotation is falling apart and the depth is being exposed. Let alone, the Lions look dependent on living and dying by the home run.

Too many question marks surround this team and we can only hope it gets better. The defense is still improved, but the pitching is not.


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