Sunday, June 25, 2017

2017 Seibu Lions Weekly Digest: Sayonara loss results in lost series down in Fukuoka


The Saitama Seibu Lions ended up losing two out of three games in Fukuoka against the Softbank Hawks over the weekend. They're currently 6.5 games ahead of the Orix Buffaloes in their quest for A-class. Here is how they got there.

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Game 1 from Fukuoka had Yusei Kikuchi up against Nao Higashihama. Nobuhiro Masuda scored first from a timely hit in the bottom of the 1st inning. The Lions bats had their tone set with two double plays in the first two innings.

Kikuchi would get tattooed in the 2nd inning with the a bases loaded single by Kenta Imamiya. Yuki Yanagita would clear the bases with a home run into the porch to give an insurmountable lead. Kikuchi would only last two innings.

The rest of this game would have Higashihama on cruise control as he went the distance with six strikeouts and only seven hits allowed, earning a shutout. Softbank's bats would score of Katsunori Hirai and Frank Garces when the game was already decided as the Lions lost their third straight.

Hawks 10, Lions 0

Game note:

-Tadasuke Minamikawa was deactivated shortly after interleague play ended. Tatsuya Oishi returned to the ichi-gun and pitched a clean 9th inning.

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Game 2 had Ken Togame facing rookie and former first round pick Yuki Matsumoto. Softbank once again drew first blood on an RBI single from Tomoki Takata in the bottom of the 2nd. Togame also had to pull a Houdini in the bottom of the third with the bases loaded by getting Seiji Uebayashi to strikeout.

The Lions responded with a two-run HR going to the back screen by Ernesto Mejia in the top of the 4th. Shuta Tonosaki followed up with an opposite field solo HR into the porch for a 3-1 lead.

Togame pitched two clean innings, but ran into trouble in the bottom of the 6th with runners on the corners. The damage was limited as Uebayashi grounded into a 6-4-3 double play, conceding a run to make it 3-2. Togame's day would end with six innings and five strikeouts with only two walks and six hits allowed.

Shota Takekuma took the 7th inning and the tying run was on 2nd after a bunt. However, Kenji Akashi would strikeout and Imamiya grounded out as the Lions kept the lead. The Lions had several chances to add insurance, but wouldn't come through for the day.

Brian Schlitter allowed Yanagita to get on as the leadoff hitter in the 8th, but Masatoshi Okada caught the runner stealing. He would strikeout Alfredo Despaigne and force a groundout to end the frame. Tatsushi Masuda took the 9th and allowed a leadoff walk to Akira Nakamura to create drama. After a bunt moved the runner over 90 feet, Masuda struck out Munenori Kawasaki and got Akashi to ground out and end the losing streak.

Lions 3, Hawks 2

Game notes:

-Hirotaka Koishi was added to the roster while Frank Garces was sent down.

-Togame would earn his 4th win of the season, matching his total from 2016.

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For the rubber match, it would be a gaijin pitcher matchup with Rick Van Den Hurk up against Brian Wolfe. Softbank scored first in the bottom of the 1st inning with a timely single from Yuya Hasegawa. Sosuke Genda tied it up in the top of the third with a two-out timely single making it 1-1.

The Lions would erupt with three consecutive timely hits from the bottom of the lineup having Tonosaki, Ginjiro Sumitani and Yuji Kaneko all coming through for a 5-1 lead. The last two runs would come off a gapper from Shogo Akiyama at the top of the order.

It wouldn't be over as Hasegawa would hit a two-run HR off Wolfe to bring the Hawks within two. Wolfe would go six innings and allow only three runs with one walk and three strikeouts. Kazuhisa Makita ran into a jam and allowed an RBI single to Takata to make it a one run game. The Lions would get the run back on a timely hit from Tonosaki, but the Hawks responded with another run off Schlitter in the 8th.

Tatsushi Masuda took the 9th inning and would allow Yuki Yanagita to get on base. Shuhei Fukuda would pinch hit for Akira Nakamura with two outs and he took advantage of a breaking ball that sent the home crowd happy with a two-run sayonara HR. The Lions failed to win a series in Fukuoka once again.

Hawks 7, Lions 6

Game notes:

-Sumitani had a modasho with three singles.

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This loss from Fukuoka is arguably the worst of the season. With one out away, it turns from a win into a loss and the one-run games continue to be a problem for the team. There are too many question marks on Masuda, but also the bats have been rather cold.

Sure, the team is still in A-class, but a loss like this in the past has demoralized the team. In 2015, it was Tomomi Takahashi's regression. Last year, it was the walkoff loss in Hiroshima where Masuda gave up a game-losing base hit to a pinch runner. How does this team respond? We'll find out.

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2 comments:

  1. Nice wrap up. Yes, yesterday was demoralizing, but more than that, what do the Lions do with their bullpen? Nobody seems to be pitching that well in late relief these days. Sunday was also frustrating because Sarfate was lights out for the Hawks. The Lions had Sarfate but lost him, because they were too cheap to offer him a multi-year deal. Now they're paying for it.

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