Sunday, August 20, 2017

2017 Seibu Lions Weekly Digest: Mori boosts bats in return

The Saitama Seibu Lions secured another winning week in the books. They would go 4-2 combined against the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles and Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. Here's what happened:


The first game of the series had a spot start form Josh Corrales making his ichi-gun debut against Brian Wolfe. It was an awful debut from Corrales, where a string of three consecutive walks led to a run. Takeya "Okawari-kun" also beat out a double play to extend the inning and double the Lions lead in the first inning. Tomoya Mori would make his first AB of the 2017 season rememberable with an RBI single. Ginjiro Sumitani would also be hit by a pitch to make it a four-run inning.

Shintaro Masuda would give the Eagles a run back with an RBI double, but the Lions responded with Sosuke Genda doubling and Shogo Akiyama plating him immediately with a single in the second.

Wolfe looked like he would be cruising to an easy win, but gave up a string of consecutive hits with a walk for one run. Louis Okoye would then clear the bases on a double to tie the game, as the Lions blew a 5-1 lead in the process.

Yasunori Kikuchi took over in the 4th inning for the Eagles and the base runners came again. Mori hit one off the wall to plate two more runs. Wolfe would fail to get a shutdown inning as Zelous Wheeler took one deep to make it a one run game in the 5th. With Shota Takekuma pitching, Masuda would strike again with a solo HR and tie the game once more.

Takekuma had a shutdown inning thanks to a strikeout, throw out double play from Sumitani. With Kohei Morihara pitching, he would give up home runs to Hotaka Yamakawa and Kyohei Nagae where the latter was called up to the ichi-gun for the first time since May. Shuta Tonosaki would later hit a two-run HR to put the game away for good.

Hatsuhiko Tsuji didn't waste anything, as Kazuhisa Makita had a clean 7th inning with a four run lead. Yamakawa dropped a bloop RBI single for another run. Katsunori took the 8th with no problem minus one error from Genda.

The bottom of the 8th is where the Lions piled it on with five runs. Timely hits from Sumitani, Akiyama, Nagae and a walk from Genda made it easy.  Hirotaka Koishi gave up a late run, but it was all over after two comebacks.

Lions 17, Eagles 8

Game notes:

-Every starting Lions player had at least one hit.

-Akiyama secured a modasho.

-To make room for Nagae and Mori, the Lions deactivated Tatsuyuki Uemoto and Naoto Watanabe.

-17 runs is the highest amount of runs scored by the Lions in the 2017 season.


The second game featured Minabu Mima against Yosuke Okamoto. It would be the Lions to score first as Kyohei Nagae reached base on an error by Mima, where the pitcher dropped the ball on an exchange.

After Okamoto fought through a chance in the top of the 4th, he would be rewarded in the bottom of the frame. The Lions looked like they would squander a chance with two on and nobody out, but Nagae came through with a gapper plating both runners. Genda plated Nagae shortly after to make it 4-0.

Mori would hit his first HR of the season and the game would be on cruise control from the 5th inning. Okamoto would get a sixth inning and have a clean affair with no runs allowed, three strikeouts and one walk while scattering three hits.

Brian Schlitter took the 7th without trouble while Makita pitched the 8th. Hirai pitched the 9th inning and the Lions secured their 11th shutout of the season, taking the series.

Lions 5, Eagles 0

Game notes:

-Okawari-kun would sit this game out with Nagae starting at 3B, batting 9th.

-The Lions are 7-0 when Okamoto starts a game, he has been the winner in six of them.

-Mori secured a modasho, his first of the season.


The final game of the series had Tomohiro Anraku against Yusei Kikuchi. This one would be a classic pitcher's duel with minimal threats. The Lions had a runner on third, but nothing would happen in the first. Kikuchi loaded the bases with a two walks and a hit-by-pitch, but a 2-3 double play from Kazuo Matsui would have no runs in the 4th.

Anraku allowed a base runner almost every inning and the best chance came in the bottom of the 7th. With two runners on and two outs, Ernesto Mejia came in for a pinch hit with the ichi-gun, but popped out to centerfield. Anraku went seven innings without a run, scattering seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts.

Both sides would pitch a scoreless 8th inning and it was onto the 9th, where Kikuchi would not allow a run the entire time. He had two hits, seven strikeouts and two walks up to that point. Frank Hermann came in for the 9th inning and retired the first two batters easily, but it wasn't over yet.

Shuta Tonosaki hit a double off the LF wall to create a chance. Sumitani would then be hit by a pitch on what would've been a ball four. With the 9-spot up, which Mejia already pinch hit for, Fumikazu Kimura was due to hit. Tsuji took the right call and had Takumi Kuriyama take a shot. On a 2-1 pitch, Kuriyama went opposite field for a walkoff three-run HR to send MetLife Dome into a frenzy. It was his second sayonara HR o the season and third overall by the team to complete the sweep.

Lions 3, Eagles 0

Game notes:

-This would be the 12th shutout win by the Lions in 2017.

-The Lions won six straight games against the Eagles and were on a five game winning streak.

-Okawari-kun was taken off the roster with back pain. He is expected to return in the minimum 10 days as Mejia took his spot.


The week would shift to Sapporo as Luis Mendoza would take on Ryoma Nogami. It would be the Fighters to score first when Shohei Otani slapped an RBI single in the bottom of the 1st. Sho Nakata would then hit a two-run HR in the bottom of the 6th as the Lions bats were no threat.

Mendoza would go 7.1 innings giving up only four hits and one walk while striking out six batters. Nogami went six innings with only three runs given up, but it wasn't enough. Nakata added another run in the bottom of the 8th to seal it as the Fighters shut out the Lions.

Fighters 4, Lions 0

Game note:

-This would be the 7th time the Lions were shut out this year, their first time with no runs since June 30.


The second game had Naoyuki Uwasawa facing Shinsaburo Tawata. After Uwasawa showed vulnerability with bad control, Hotaka Yamakawa put the Lions on the board first with a two-run HR in the bottom of the 4th. Tehre wouldn't be anymore scoring until the 9th inning, where Hideto Asamura hit into an RBI groundout after some manufactured bunts.

This game was all about Tawata, where he earned his second shutout in as many weeks. The early trouble he had was in the 7th when Otani hit a double. However, Nakata struck out and Brandon Laird grounded out to make it simple.

There was one last gasp for the Fighters as Takuya Nakashima and Otani reached base with two outs. However, Nakata would hit an infield fly and Tawata earned the shutout.

Lions 3, Fighters 0

Game note:

-This was Tawata's third career shutout, where last year he accomplished this against the Fighters.


The rubber match would have Stephen Fife facing Kenta Uehara. It would be a rough start for Fife in the first and third innings with timely hits and several base runners, but damage would be limited both times with a double play and one run given up in both frames.

Otani added a third run through an RBI single and Fife's outing would end in the bottom of the 5th inning, where he failed to get an out. Katsunori Hirai would allow an RBI single with inherited runners to make it 5-0.

Uehara struggled with control and allowed a base runner each inning, but found a way to not allow a run. Ernesto Mejia made his first start and failed to get a hit with runners in scoring position. Uehara would last five innings before the reigns were handed to the Fighters bullpen.

With Hirotaka Koishi entering in the 6th, it was a white flag on this game as he allowed two more runs to score. Ichiro Tamura would also give up a two run HR to Brandon Laird. The Lions prevented a shutout with Genda dropping an RBI single and Kuriyama hitting a home run, but that was it as the Lions lost the series.
Fighters 9, Lions 3

Game note:

-Mori was benched before entering the game as a catcher. Kuriyama would start in LF.


This was still a decent week with the Lions pulling off the sweep of Rakuten. However, with Fife's loss, we've unfortunately learned what he is, which is a back end starter who could take a light start on occasion. It's clear when Ken Togame is healthy again, Fife would be the first one farmed.

We'll see what lies ahead, but the big series in Fukuoka will determine the next level of this team.


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