Sunday, July 9, 2017

2017 Seibu Lions Weekly Digest: Fighters swept in two different places


The Saitama Seibu Lions swept the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters and lost a series to the Tohoku Rakuten Eagles for the week. With the winning, they would increase their lead against the Orix Buffaloes to six games as they remain in A-class. Here's how we got there:


Game 1 from Tokyo Dome against the Fighters would have Yosuke Okamoto return to face reigning rookie of the year Hirotoshi Takanashi. The Fighters struck first on a two-run opposite field HR by Sho Nakata in the bottom of the 1st. There would be a quick response from the Lions in the top of 2nd as Ginjiro Sumitani plated Shuta Tonosaki on a two-out RBI double.

Takeya "Okawari-kun" Nakamura would hit a three-run blast in the top of the 3rd to give the Lions a lead. The Fighters would make it a one-run game in the bottom of the 4th with a solo HR from Brandon Laird.

In the top of the 6th, Shuta Tonosaki would walk and steal second. As a result of stealing, he would advance to third on an off throw. Yuji Kaneko slapped an RBI single past the shortstop and made it 5-3.

Despite Okamoto giving up two HRs, he would go 5.2 innings with five strikeouts and two walks. After giving up a base runner in the 6th, Tatsuya Oishi struck out Taishi Ota to end any chance. Okawari-kun lived up to his name by hitting a second HR in the top of the 7th.

Kazuhisa Makita ran into a jam with two on and nobody out, but would only allow one run off an infield single by Haruki Nishikawa. Nakata was up again representing the go-ahead run, but he would groundout. Brian Schlitter had a two out scare in the 8th, but he would get Kenshi Sugiya to groundout.

Kenta Uehara, the Fighters first round draft pick of 2015, would take the 9th inning and be a disaster for the Fighters. The bases would be loaded with the Lions fighting off several pitches and stealing bases. Takumi Kuriyama plated one run with a single while Fumikazu Kimura, coming in as a defensive sub, would get an RBI double. Tonosaki and Sumitani cleared the bases with sacrifice flies, but the game was already put away.

Hirotaka Koishi would take the last inning to end the losing streak.

Lions 11, Fighters 4

Game notes:

-Asamura would have a modasho and Sosuke Genda had two stolen bases.

-To make room for Okamoto on the roster, Haruka Yamada was taken off, having never played an ichi-gun game.


The second game from Tokyo Dome would have Ryoma Nogami up against Takayuki Kato. It would be Okawari-kun with the first blood hitting a two-run HR in the top of the 1st for an early lead. Ernesto Mejia would strike with a solo HR in the top of the 2nd for his 14th of the year.

Hideto Asamura added a fourth run through a timely base hit in the top of the 3rd inning. The Fighters answered in the bottom of the 4th with a double steal attempt, but that would be it for the scoring.

Nogami would go six innings with one walk, two hits and five strikeouts on the night. Kazuhisa Makita gave up two hits, but no runs in the 7th while Schlitter and Masuda had clean innings to take the two games from the Kanto region.

Lions 4, Fighters 1

Game note:

-Shogo Akiyama would have a modasho including a double. He would also make a leaping catch at the wall to rob Shohei Otani of an extra base hit.

-Fumikazu Kimura started in RF and went 0-4.


The last portion of the series would go to Sapporo as Stephen Fife made his debut against another gaijin in Luis Mendoza. Fighters scored first on an RBI single from Shota Ono in the bottom of the 2nd. However, the Lions responded with an RBI double from Shogo Akiyama and a two-run HR from Sosuke Genda to take a 4-1 lead.

It wouldn't be a big cushion as the Fighters came back in the bottom of the frame. With two outs, they mustered a rally as Yadir Drake hit an RBI single. Taishi Ota would score limping, but Ginjiro Sumitani couldn't field the throw from Tonosaki cleanly, adding another run. Katsunori Hirai came in for Fife and was able to keep the game tied in the 4th, but a two out backbreaker in the 5th gave the Fighters a lead again. Kazunari Ishii would get a two-out RBI triple off the RF wall

Once again, there would be no shutdown inning as the Lions created a chance in the top of the 6th. Daichi Mizuguchi got a leadoff single and he would be bunted over to second, ending Mendoza's day. After Yuji Kaneko reached on a bunt single and stole second, Shogo Akiyama came through with a single off Naoki Miyanishi for a 6-5 lead. He would later score on an error from Brandon Laird.

Kazuhisa Makita had a clean 7th inning, but Brian Schlitter ran into trouble for the 8th. He would walk Takuya Nakashima and a bad throw would lead to him being on third base. Haruki Nishikawa would plate him while Go Matsumoto added a base hit to put the go-ahead run on base. Sho Nakata was up with two outs, but a soft line drive to LF ended the threat.

Tatsushi Masuda had a clean inning for the 9th, giving the Lions their third straight win.

Lions 7, Fighters 6

Game notes:

-To make room for Fife on the ichi-gun roster, Hirotaka Koishi was sent down.

-Katsunori Hirai earned his first win and got the hero interview as the result.

-Akiyama and Kaneko had modashos with the former having a combined four RBI.


The first game in Sendai would have Wataru Karashima up against Tohoku native Yusei Kikuchi. It was an early struggle for Kikuchi in the bottom of the 1st with two on and nobody out, but he would force two flyouts and a groundout to allow no runs.

The Lions struck first in the top of the third as Sosuke Genda stole second base and forced a bad throw by Toru Hosokawa, having Ginjiro Sumitani score from third. Asamura would drop a double in the gap to double the lead at 2-0. Kikuchi would earn a shutdown inning the hard way, getting Zelous Wheeler and Japhet Amador out with two runners on base.

A crooked inning for the Lions would come in the top of the 6th as it would be the third time through the order. The Lions loaded the bases and Shuta Tonosaki hit a soft single for one run. Sumitani added another with a sacrifice fly. Naoto Watanabe, pinch hitting for rookie Aito Takeda, would slap an RBI single to make it 5-0.

Kikuchi dealt with one more threat in the bottom of the 8th inning with two runners on base and no outs. He would get Wheeler to flyout, Japhet Amador to line out and "Ginji" Akaminai to strikeout looking for the third Houdini of the night. He would complete the shutout for his second of the season and 5th in his career. It took a total of 140 pitches as he had 14 strikeouts.

Lions 5, Eagles 0

Game note:

-Yuji Kaneko would sit this game out with Aito Takeda making his first career start. Takeda went 0-2 before being pinch hit for in the 6th inning.

-Kikuchi was taken off the roster after the game due to the All Star break ahead. Hotaka Yamakawa would be called up.


The second game of the series would have Ken Togame up against Minabu Mima. Togame had one struggling inning in the bottom of the 2nd where he would walk in a run with the bases loaded. He would also allow a timely base hit to Carlos Peguero for a 2-0 Eagles lead. Togame would go five innings before Shogo Noda took over in the 6th.

Mima dominated the Lions with six scoreless innings with only two hits given up, five strikeouts and a walk. He would leave the game early due to an injury. Frank Hermann would open the door for the Lions in the 8th as Takumi Miyoshi's error would have Kuriyama on base. With the catcher's position coming up, Tsuji would pinch hit with Yamakawa and he would send on to the stands and tie the game.

The bottom of the 8th proved to tough as Schlitter was pitching. Rakuten chose to bunt twice and the Lions could not communicate in the infield, leading to an error on the pitcher and the bases were loaded. Japhet Amador would pinch hit an deliver a timely double to plate two runs. Yuki Matsui shut the door quickly and the winning streak would end.

Eagles 4, Lions 2

Game note:

-Takeda would be a pinch runner for Kuriyama and score on the home run by Yamakawa.

-Naoto Watanabe started at 3B while Okawari-kun was the DH.  Watanabe went 0-3.


The rubber match would have Takahiro Shiomi facing Brian Wolfe in a matinee. It would be a strong start for the Lions with a four-run first inning that started with an RBI hit by Kuriyama. Mejia would hit a three-run home run to make it 4-0.

The Eagles responded with a two-run double by Zelous Wheeler in the bottom of the frame. He would later hit a two-run HR in the bottom of the third to tie it up. This would be a no decision for Wolfe as he went five innings with seven hits given up and four strikeouts.

Shiomi appeared to have settled in after the first, but allowed several base runners with six hits and two walks. He would get two key double plays to escape any damage. The best chance for the Lions came in the top of the 7th against Hiroyuki Fukuyama, who hasn't allowed a run this season. The bases were loaded, but a double play from Okawari-kun ended the chance.

Ginji would make the Lions pay with an RBI hit off Shota Takekuma in the bottom of the frame. The Lions had the tying run on second base in the 8th, but Yamakawa couldn't get a hit as a pinch hitter. Matsui shut the door once again by striking out the side and the Lions lost the series.

Eagles 5, Lions 4

Game note:

-Genda would have a modasho.

-Watanabe would start at DH and go 1-2 before Daichi Mizuguchi would pinch run.


The Lions had a great start to the week before a thud finish in Sendai. While it was unfortunate to lose, any winning week is what we'll take. Fife's first career ichi-gun start was rough to watch, but we have to give him time before we make any true judgments.

Offensively, this team can be great, but it's often frustrating when they're not facing the Fighters. Unfortunately, we can't see the Lions bats get fat off them each game. There's one final series against the Chiba Lotte Marines before the All-star break and hopefully they can finish strong.


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