Sunday, August 5, 2018

2018 Seibu Lions Weekly Digest: Franchise record set in homestand


The Saitama Seibu Lions went 4-2 this week in a homestand against the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks and Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. They maintained their lead in the Pacific League race as they're currently up 3.5 games on the Fighters.

Here is how we got there:


The first game against the Hawks had Shinsaburo Tawata against Kodai Senga. This one was like a home run derby, where the Lions have five solo HRs combined from Hideto Asamura, Ernesto Mejia, Takeya "Okawari-kun" Nakamura, Hotaka Yamakawa and Shogo Akiyama. Shuta Tonosaki also brought in a run through bases loaded walk.

Tawata ended up going the distance, allowing four runs in the top of the 9th, but with plenty of run support. It was his fourth complete game of the season and eighth in his career.

Lions 7, Hawks 4


Game 2 featured a debut from Kotaro Otake against Hayato Takagi, making his first start in months where the former was promoted from ikusei. Yamakawa hit a two-run HR in the first, but that was all the glory for the Lions.

The Hawks tattooed Takagi for seven earned runs, where even an error created an inside the park grand slam (though it goes in the books as an hit and error). Tomoya Mori had a consolation grand slam in the 9th, but it was way too late. Otake went eight innings and won his debut with the HR as his only blemish.

Hawks 14, Lions 6

Game notes:

-Haruka Yamada was the corresponding move to make room for Takagi.

-The Lions set a franchise record for being the fastest team to 500 runs through 90 games. Their previous record was reaching 500 runs at 91 games in 1983.


The final game had Tatsuya Imai returning to face Shuta Ishikawa. Softbank scored first off a sac fly in the top of the second, but the Lions erupted in the next frame. Tonosaki hit a two-run HR and Okwari-kun followed up with a solo HR to make it 3-1. Timely hits continued without a home run and the Lions batted around the order for a seven run inning, including a gapper from Sosuke Genda.

This game finished with both sides trading runs, but it was Imai's longest game of his career going seven innings with only two runs allowed, his first win in nearly two months.

Lions 10, Hawks 2

Game note:

-Ichiro Tamura was called up with Imai. Keisuke Honda and Takagi were the corresponding deactivation moves. Tamura ended up closing the 9th inning.


The biggest home series of the season started over the weekend against the Fighters as Yusei Kikuchi took on Naoyuki Uwasawa. This one had pitcher's duel written all over it, but Shogo Akiyama hit a timely triple for the first blood. The Fighters responded with a three-run fourth inning as Brandon Laird hit a home run.

There wouldn't be life for the Lions until the 7th, where runners were on base and Takumi Kuriyama hit a sac fly. With the bases loaded, Asamura grounded into a double-play ball, but Kazunari Ishii rushed the throw to first, scoring two runners and giving the Lions the lead again. Katsunori Hirai and Deunte Heath ended up being the heroes as they recorded the final seven outs of the game.

Lions 4, Fighters 3


Game 2 was a battle of foreigners as Brian Wolfe returned to face Nick Martinez. Sho Nakata led the scoring with a timely double in the third and a two-run HR in the 5th inning. The Lions continued to strand runners all night despite having 10 hits.

Oswaldo Arcia put the icing on the cake with a two-run HR in the 8th. The Lions scored three in the bottom of the 8th through a HR by Okawari-kun, but it was already too late.

Fighters 6, Lions 3


The final game of the week had Daiki Enokida up against Hirotoshi Takanashi. After Akiyama tripled to start the bottom of the first, Asamura hit a sac fly for a 1-0 Lions lead. This didn't last long, as Arcia hit a two-run HR in the second. An error on Tomoya Mori through a sac bunt had him throw the ball in right field for two more Fighters runs.

Okawari-kun took a pitch deep into the Lions Oendan for a three-run HR in the bottom of the 2nd. With the game staying tied and both sides threatening, the Lions broke through in the 5th when Shuta Tonosaki hit a three-run HR.

After Enokida went five innings, the bullpen took over in the 6th where Katsunori Hirai had no trouble. Shogo Noda and Hiromasa Saito both got double plays in the 7th and 8th. However, Neil Wagner took over after Kensuke Kondo reached base in the 8th and walked Sho Nakata on four pitches. On full count against Brandon Laird, Wagner threw one upstairs and it was chased for a strike three.

Deunte Heath struck out three batters in the 9th for his second save of the week as the Lions took the series. . 

Lions 7, Fighters 4


There is still a lot of work to be done and it took a 4-2 week to gain 0.5 games on the Fighters, but better than a loss. Still, this team has potential to do a lot if this bullpen can be fixed. So far, we're seeing progress.


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