Thursday, September 14, 2017
2017 Seibu Lions Weekly Digest: Sweep in Sendai
The Satiama Seibu Lions pulled off a two-game sweep in Sendai over the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. They currently have a 3.5 game lead over them and remain in second place of the Pacific League.
With these wins combined with other results in the Pacific League, the Softbank Hawks magic number to clinch the pennant is 1 while the Lions also have a magic number of 1 to secure A-class. Here is how the week went.
The first game in Sendai had rookie Shoma Fujihira against Ken Togame. Rakuten took first blood with a solo HR from Hiroaki Shimauchi in the bottom of the 2nd inning.
Tomoya Mori would hit a leadoff double and runners would be on the corners for the Lions creating a chance in the top of the 4th. However, Hideto Asamura grounded into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play to end the frame.
The bottom of the 4th proved to have momentum continue Rakuten's way, as Takero Okajima and Carlos Peguero reached base with hits. With Okajima on third, Togame would throw a wild pitch with two strikes and the runner would score. Zelous Wheeler would slap a single one pitch later to make it 3-0.
The Lions got a run back with Sosuke Genda hitting an RBI single in the top of the 5th. After Togame pitched a shutdown frame, the Lions would erupt for four runs in the top of the 5th, where a three-run bomb came from Takeya "Okawari-kun" Nakamura. This would end Fujihira's night and Yuhei Takanashi came in.
A bloop single to Okada and Genda's safety bunt would result in a hit and an error by Takanashi, sending the ball to right field and Okada on third base. Yuji Kaneko hit a sacrifice fly for another run of insurance.
Togame took the 6th inning and gave up a two out double to "Ginji" Akaminai, but Wheeler would strike out and end a threat, giving the pitcher a shutdown inning for his last frame of the night. He went six innings with five strikeouts, one earned run and six hits with no walks.
Kazuhisa Makita had a clean 7th while Brian Schlitter gave up a walk and a hit in the 8th, but no runs. In the top of the 8th, Genda provided insurance with a 2-RBI double beating a shift to make it 7-3. This hit also secured a modasho.
Like Schlitter, Tatsushi Masuda gave up a hit and walk creating a chance. However, a groundout to Yuichi Adachi and infield fly from Japhet Amador ended the game.
Lions 7, Eagles 3
-The Lions won their 9th straight game against the Eagles with one tie in the 10-game stretch.
The last game of the series would have an old friend in Takayuki Kishi up against Yusei Kikuchi in a battle of Tohoku natives. This game would start fast as three pitches from Kishi turned into a run for the Lions. Akiyama singled, Genda placed a bunt single and Mori slapped a third single for a 1-0 lead.
This lead wouldn't last long as an error from Hotaka Yamakawa would have Ginji on base. Taishi Nakagawa tied the game with a gapper to left field. Kikuchi dealt with a bases loaded jam that included a walk and bunt single in the bottom of the 5th, but he would get Ginji to ground out into a 6-4-3 double play.
In the top of the 6th Mori would earn a walk and Yamakawa struck out, but the former advanced to second base. Asamura would come through with a single up the middle and the Lions took a 2-1 lead.
Kikuchi would cruise through eight innings with 11 strikeouts, four hits and two walks. Masuda took the 9th inning and gave up a double to Wheeler, but both Japhet Amador and Shimauchi grounded out as the Lions pulled off the short sweep.
Lions 2, Eagles 1
-The Lions finished with a 7-4-1 record in Sendai. It was their 10th straight win over the Eagles with a tie included in their last 11 games head to head.
Close games after slow starts have been going the Lions way after struggles last season. It's good to see progress and right now, we're hoping the team is healthy as they gear up towards the postseason.
What happens now? Most likely a pennant party in MetLife Dome with the Hawks coming for a three game series. The Lions will need to sweep them in order to prevent this from happening.
With the irregular schedule in September, our next weekly digest will come after the series against the Marines on Thursday.
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Posted by Christian Gin at 12:34 PM