The Saitama Seibu Lions went 2-2-1 against the Fighters and Softbank Hawks in a five game homestand. They sit in A-class, but only lead the Chiba Lotte Marines by one game. There was other news this week from foreigners arriving and a recent retirement.
Game 1: Wataru Matsumoto vs. Takahisa Ikeda
The Lions offense was nearly non-existent again scoring only two runs and "Aito" Takeda had the only traditional RBI off a hit. Matsumoto didn't allow a run through five innings, but loaded the bases while failing to record an out. Yasuo Sano couldn't clean up the mess as Kensuke Kondo hit a single before the Fighters score two more runs which was enough to win the game. Ikeda went six innings while giving up three hits.
The Lions had chances in the 8th and 9th innings, but couldn't cash in more besides Aito's timely hit.
Fighters 3 Lions 2
Game 2: Tatsuya Imai vs. Hiromi Ito
Imai went six innings and only allowed one run which came off an error from the infield. Timely hits by Nien Ting Wu and Tomoya Mori were enough as the Lions, for the fourth consecutive game, scored only two runs. Reed Garrett, Kaima Taira and Tatsushi Masuda closed out the game in a 7-8-9 format combining for eight strikeouts to split the series.
Lions 2 Fighters 1
Game 3: Kona Takahashi vs. Shunta Ishikawa
Yurisbel Gracial had a solo HR in the top of the first, but also cost his team a run in the bottom of the frame. Gakuto Wakabayashi appeared to hit a home run and Gracial gave up on the play, but the ball goes off the wall for a double and the Lions eventually score on a wild pitch.
The game stayed tied until the 6th inning, when Tomoya Mori hit a solo HR. The 2-1 score stood as the Lions pitchers didn't allow any runs, yet stranded runners on base. Takahashi went seven innings and had to earn his final out on a foul out catch by Mori while diving. Taira had runners on first and third, but struck out Ryoya Kurihara on full count to end the top of the 8th. Masuda drew a double play from Nobuhiro Matsuda to close it out as the Lions won their second straight in their fifth consecutive game scoring only two runs.
Lions 2 Hawks 1
Game 4: Syota Hamaya vs. Rei Takahashi
Hamaya gave up multiple two-run HRs to Gracial and Nobuhiro Matsuda. which ended this one early. A sacrifice fly from Manaya Nishikawa was all the scoring from the Lions offense in this laugher. Hamaya lasted only four innings, allowing a total of five runs. Rei Takahashi shut down the Lions for six innings, which allowed Carter Stewart Jr. to make his ichi-gun debut with a scoreless frame in the 9th. Hamaya was deactivated after the game.
Hawks 7 Lions 1
Game 5: Katsunori Hirai vs. Yuki Matsumoto
Both starters only allowed two runs and went six innings. It looked like the Lions would pull away when two timely hits from Haruka Yamada and Gakuto Wakabayashi were gappers, but Akira Nakamura hit a two-run HR off Masuda in the top of the 9th to tie it.
With a fast 1-2-3 9th, the Lions ended up taking a draw.
Lions 4 Hawks 4
Imports join the team
All Seibu Lions import players finished the 2-week quarantine this week after arrival in Japan. Cory Spangenberg, Ernesto Mejia, Zach Neal and new foreigner Matt Dermody all joined the team and will have ni-gun action to start. The Lions formally introduced Dermody on Saturday. You can see it here
Ikusei pitcher retires
Seibu Lions pitcher Aoi Tohno announced a voluntary retirement on Sunday after it was discovered a torn ligament from spring training continued to get worse. Tohno, 24, was an ikusei draft pick of the Lions in 2018. Last year, he appeared in 11 ni-gun games with a 3.74 ERA in 21.2 innings of work.
Could be worse? The Lions offense remains a liability. Let's hope Spangenberg and Mejia can put a boost to a raw and young offense. If anything, Wakabayashii is promising.
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