Sunday, July 8, 2018
2018 Seibu Lions Weekly Digest: Home runs bail out trip in Sendai
The Saitama Seibu Lions went 3-0 in a rain-condensed week on the road against the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters and Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. They have a three game lead on the Fighters with three games to go before the All-Star break.
Here is how we got to where we are:
The first game from Sapporo Dome had Ken Togame facing Naoyuki Uwasawa. Takeya "Okawari-kun" hit a two-run HR in the top of the second to begin the scoring. Hotaka Yamakawa delievered a timely hit in the third to make it 3-0. Shogo Akiyama and Sosuke Genda had timely hits of their own with two outs in the 4th where the latter beat out an infield single to make it 5-0.
Togame was cruising for most of the night and was forced to take a portion of the 8th inning due to an untrustworthy bullpen. While battling through a few jams, he still had 10 strikeouts on the night and didn't allow a run. With one final jam in the 8th, Deunte Heath got the final out with an infield fly.
Tatsushi Masuda failed to record an out in the 9th inning and allowed three runners to reach base. Fabio Castillo closed it out and conceded a run on a groundout as the Lions remain undefeated in Sapporo Dome.
Lions 5, Fighters 2
The second game was scheduled for Thursday in Hakodate with Shinsaburo Tawata against Kenta Uehara. However, the game was rained out and will be made up sometime later in the year at Sapporo Dome.
The Lions took the bullet train down to Sendai where Yusei Kikuchi had a rematch scheduled against Takahiro Shiomi. This game was also rained out and called right as first pitch was scheduled at 18:00 local time.
After two rain outs, the Lions started Tawata against Takayuki Kishi. Hotaka Yamakawa hit a solo HR in both the second and fourth innings for most of the Lions offense off the day.
Tawata was cruising as he only allowed one hit and faced the minimum through six innings. However, he faced the lineup for a third time through the order and struggled, giving up three base runners without an out. Hiroaki Shimauchi showed bunt, but then swing and got a single through no-man's land to give the Eagles their first run. Toshiaki Imae hit a sac fly to tie it up.
Tomoya Mori slowed down all momentum when throwing out Shimauchi trying to steal and Tawata kept the game tied through seven. Takumi Kuriyama responded with a solo HR that just cleared the feces off Chia-Hao Sung to give the Lions a lead again.
Tawata allowed the first base runner to reach base and the Lions went with Shogo Noda in the bottom of the 8th. After Noda gave up another hit, he struck out the next two hitters and Kazuki Tanaka struck out against Deunte Heath to escape the jam.
Fabio Castillo hit a batter, but got a double play to end the game as the Lions won their third straight.
Lions 3, Eagles 2
The last game of the week had Kikuchi and Shiomi squaring off once again after their initial matchup was postponed from Friday. Okawari-kun started the scoring in the top of the 5th with a timely single with two outs/
Rakuten responded in the 7th when they had two runners on scoring position with one out as Carlos Peguero grounded out and the Lions conceded to make it 1-1. Kikuchi went nine innings and gave up only one run, but some amazing defense from Shuta Tonosaki prevented more. He gunned down a runner in the second inning at the plate, while a diving catch in the 8th inning saved a run as well.
With Yuki Matsui pitching in the 10th, Tonosaki and Ernesto Mejia both hit a solo HR to the batter's eye to make it 3-1. Castillo took the bottom of the frame adn walked two batters, eventually loading the bases for Imae. The Eagles leading hitter singled and tied the game at 3-3. However, the game remained tied.
Yuhei Takanashi pitched the 11th and Shogo Akiyama hit a solo HR to give the Lions a lead again. The game still wasn't over, as Heath walked two batters and forced manager Hatsuhiko Tsuji to put in Shogo Noda to face Eigoro Mogi. Noda succeeded, earning his first save as Mogi flied out to centerfield and the Lions won their fourth straight.
Lions 4, Eagles 3 (11 innings)
This team is still hard to watch given the bullpen woes, but 3-0 is better than losing, let alone picking up ground on the Fighters being a good thing. Can this relief pitching get better? That's the problem, because there are no signs of it. That being said, Shogo Noda played well enough to earn some more meaningful innings this weekend.
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Posted by Christian Gin at 2:04 AM