Sunday, April 24, 2016

2016 Seibu Lions Weekly Digest: Throwing games away (on errors)

The Lions would go 2-3-1 against the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters and Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles for the week. It was the second consecutive losing week for the team.


In Game 1 against the Fighters, it was a rematch from two weeks ago in Takayuki Kishi against Mitsuo Yoshikawa. Kensuke Kondo would open the scoring for Hokkaido with a solo home run in the first inning.

It would be Kishi's only mistake of the night, as he would go six innings without any extra damage. The Lions had their share of chances with two runners on base, but couldn't punch in any runs with two outs. Yoshikawa would get 7 scoreless innings after an embarrassing defeat at Seibu Dome two weeks ago.

The Lions best chance came in the top of the 8th with Chris Martin pitching in relief. Tatsuyuki Uemoto was pinch hitting for Ginjiro "Gin-chan" Sumitani, where he would get a leadoff double. After Yuji Onizaki bunted him over to third, pinch runner Shotaro Tashiro was picked off by Fighters catcher Shota Ono and it cleared any threats. Shogo Akiyama would walk, but was caught stealing second and Ono had his second throw out of the game.

It was a quiet game for the Lions bats while it was a noisy one for Kondo, who had three hits. Shohei Otani also had three hits as the team's designated hitter on the night.

Fighters 1, Lions 0


In Game 2, the Lions had Ryoma Nogami take on Masaru Nakamura. After both pitchers had shaky first innings, Nakamura would blink first as the Lions scored three runs off a bases clearing double by Ernesto Mejia. It took a 10-pitch at bat to break the scoreless draw and it was the first time the team scored in 12 innings.

Mejia would do damage again with two outs on a 2-2 pitch in the fifth, taking a deep two-run home run to left field. Best yet, Kondo-san, the Fighters' play by play broadcaster, made the call in English and you can see it here.

In the sixth inning, Akiyama would get an RBI double to make it 6-0. Mejia picked up an RBI single in the 7th and was a triple short of the cycle on the night.

For Nogami, he would survive a scary first inning and cruise through seven innings, with only two earned runs coming in the 7th. He struck out seven and mostly had no trouble with the Fighters lineup. Only Kensuke Kondo would consistently get on base, but that would be it.

Hirotaka Koishi would end the game with two scoreless innings and the Lions padded their lead. After not scoring for a full game, They would explode off a back end depth pitcher from the Fighters.

Lions 9, Fighters 2


In Game 3, Anthony Bass would face Yusei Kikuchi on five days of rest. It was a brutal start for Kikuchi, where a routine double play ball ended up being a throwing error on Hideto Asamura. After a simple ground ball, Asamura threw a ball over Mejia's head and the Fighters struck first.

They would get another run in the second inning after Ono would single followed by a double off the wall by Nishikawa, all with two outs. Kikuchi appeared to have settled in afterwards and the Lions would tie the game in the fourth off a two-run home run by Mejia, which was his 5th HR of the year.

There was a chance in the fifth for the Lions with two on, two out, but Sumitani would strike out on full count where it would have been ball 4. In the sixth, Brandon Laird would single and Daikan Yoh, playing as the team's designated hitter would hit a backbreaking two-run home run off Kikuchi to give the Fighters a 4-2 lead.

Seibu had a chance with runners on the corners and Asamura batting on a cold streak in the 7th. He would flyout to centerfield and Onizaki would score from third, but Akiyama was caught trying to tag up as the pitcher served as a cutoff man to throw him out.

Chris Martin and Hirotoshi Masui cleaned up the 8th and 9th innings for the Fighters and the Lions would lose their third consecutive series. For Bass, it was his first win in Japan after being on the unfortunate end of decisions. He would go 6.1 innings with three earned runs total.

This was a game where Norio Tanabe fell for the third time through the order penalty trying to stretch Kikuchi through a 6th inning. Yoh would make the Lions pay with the home run and the mental mistakes would pile up with Asamura and Akiyama's blunders.

Game notes:

-Takeya "Okawari-kun" Nakamura would leave the game with a wrist injury. Bass would strike him on a pitch and it would hit his right forearm.  Shuta Tonosaki came in as a pinch hitter and Tatsuyuki Uemoto would pinch hit later in the game.

-This became the 300th career win for Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama.

-At the conclusion of this game, Mejia would tie Brandon Laird for the most home runs in the Pacific League with five.

-Tomomi Takahashi and Shotaro Tashiro were deactivated after the game for Naotaka Takehara and Yutaro Osaki. Takahashi reportedly has an elbow injury.

Fighters 4, Lions 3


In Game 1 against Rakuten, it was Takahiro Norimoto vs. Ken Togame. The Lions jumped out to a 3-0 lead after four innings where Yuji Kaneko had a base hit with the bases loaded and Takumi Kuriyama would slice a gapper.

Togame looked like he was cruising through five with no runs allowed despite a shaky start. The third time through the order penalty would strike in the sixth, where the Eagles tied it up from hits by Zelous Wheeler and an RBI groundout by Kazuo Matsui.  Shota Takekuma came in with inherited runners and a pinch hitter in Ryohei Kawamoto was up batting for the first time with an ichi-gun since 2014. He would get a clutch single to make it 3-3.

The Eagles would go on top as Takekuma conceded another RBI to Wheeler in the 7th. Amazingly, the Lions answered back with a game tying two-out hit from Ryo Sakata and went ahead with a single from Onizaki.

Kazuhisa Makita came already allowing an inherited runner, but gave up another run in the 8th to tie it again as Motohiro Shima hit a gapper with two outs. Seibu had a great chance in the 9th off Kodai Hayama. The bases would be loaded with two outs and Takehara, pinch hitting for an already subbed DH spot due to Okawari-kun's injury, was up. He would get a clean single to right field and the Lions went back on top 7-5.

The top of the 9th would be where it all unraveled. Tatsushi Masuda couldn't strikeout anyone with an early single and walk to begin the frame. After Wheeler lined out, Matsui would slice a gapper in LF to bring the Eagles within one and the go-ahead run in scoring position.

The bases would be loaded and Kawamoto was up again. Masuda got a ground ball to Onizaki, but he would botch the throw to second base and it would go to the outfield as the Eagles tied it up.  Mitsutaka Goto would be up next and had a ground ball to Asamura, but he would also throw it wide of the plate and the go-ahead run would score making it 8-7 Eagles.

Yuki Matsui would close the game after getting a double play and the Lions lost another one.  This game had everything go wrong from errors and giving up hits. Tanabe may have mismanaged Togame with the third time through the order penalty, but his pitch count was far from high, so it's understandable he left him in.

The one thing Tanabe did right, was know when to pinch hit. He made calls at the right moment to give an opportunities as Osaki and Takehara both got at-bats in crunch time. Despite Norimoto starting, the bats did an amazing job making him work for every out and would take pitches outside without issue.

With Tomomi Takahashi out and Okawari-kun hurt, it was already discouraging news that they needed to pick up the slack. That being said, they scored off a poor Eagles bullpen and still couldn't close it out. The Lions in general haven't struck anyone out and it becomes discouraging with how this one ended.

Game notes: 

-Masatoshi Okada started for the first time at catcher. He went 1-4 with a walk.

-Asamura came in as a defensive substitute and Shuta Tonosaki was starting at 2B.

-Onizaki and Tomoya Mori were deactivated after the game. Isamu Sato and Shogo Kimura became active players.


In Game 2 against the Eagles, Andy Van Hekken faced second-year pitcher Tomohiro Anraku. Van Hekken entered the game without a win hoping to right the ship.  Anraku was once featured on ESPN due to his performance in the 2013 Spring Koshien. He was the team's first round draft pick in 2014.

Van Hekken got off to a slow start and couldn't recover. Wheeler was the culprit again with the first RBI of the game. Masayoshi Fukuda and Taishi Nakagawa would also do damage where Van Hekken couldn't even last three innings.  It was 4-0 until Sakata put the Lions on the board with an RBI single in the 4th. They'd add another through an RBI double play and make it 4-2.

The wheels fell off in the 6th, where Chun-Lin Kuo came in for middle relief and his control was off. He would hit two consecutive batters, with the second at the head level leading to his ejection as it is a dangerous pitch. Koishi came in with the bases loaded and got a ground ball, but Naoto Watanabe would commit a throwing error which should've been out No. 3 and two runs would score. It was nearly a replay of last night when Onizaki botched the throw in the ninth inning.

The Lions chipped away at the lead with a two-run HR from Asamura, snapping a significant 0-28 leading up to that at-bat. They would later rally for three consecutive base hits, ending with an Akiyama single to bring them within one run at 6-5.

This glory would be short lived, as Koishi remained in the game for the top of the 7th and gave up three consecutive singles, including one to Kazuo Matsui to make it 7-5. A wild pitch would make it 8-5 and the game was all but over.

However, a break would come as the Lions would get two singles and Watanabe appeared to have a double play ball, but Ryota Yoshimochi would miss the tag on Kuriyama and the throw to first was dropped. Asamura would hit into a fielder's choice to get one run.

There would be runners on the corners and two outs for Okawari-kun, who would get a sudden pinch hit appearance.  Okawari-kun sliced one opposite field and it looked catchable, but it dropped and it resulted in a two-run triple to tie the game at 8-8.

Masuda would enter the 9th inning and suddenly allow a base runner with speed to get on base. With two outs and a runner on 2nd, it was up to Goto. He would get an infield single and beat out a throw from Watanabe as runners were on the corners.  Kawamoto would flyout to right field as Sakata made a basket catch and preserved the tie.

A chance would come in the 9th for the Lions as Watanabe would leadoff with a single. After Asamura advanced him to 2nd on a bunt, Okada would walk on 5 pitches.  Akiyama also walked on four pitches.  Newcomer Shogo Kimura had a chance like Takehara in the previous game to get a big hit with the bases loaded. He would strikeout on some terrible pitches in the dirt as Koji Aoyama would get a houdini.

Makita would get his own jam in the top of the 12th with two on and one out. Yoshimochi would ground into a 6-4-3, meaning the Lions could no longer lose the game.

In the bottom of the 12th, the Lions were only able to get one base runner, but Kuriyama struck out and the game ended in a draw.

Game note:

-Andy Van Hekken was deactivated after the game and Yosuke Okamoto would come up.

Lions 8, Eagles 8


In Game 3 against the Eagles, Kishi would start on four days of rest against Yoshinao Kamata. He would start well at first, but left the game in the third inning after 34 pitches due to an undisclosed injury. This left a pickle, but Mejia would hit a solo HR off Kamata for the first run of the game in the third.

Koishi would come in as a long reliever and concede a run in the 5th, but Mejia answered right back with a two-run HR in the bottom half. Things began to unravel in the top of the 7th, where C.C. Lee allowed two runners, but got two outs. Yosuke Okamoto would enter and could not do anything right. He would walk Goto to load the bases before Ryo Hijirisawa would tie the game on a two-out single.

The Eagles took the lead shortly after as Takekuma came in with inherited runners. Ginji Akaminai had a gapper of his own and made it 5-3. Another hit from Wheeler made it 6-3 and all hope looked lost.

However, the bottom of the 7th loomed large.  Kamata and Hayama combined to load the bases with hits and walks for Mejia up. Hiroyuki Fukuyama would enter, as he has given up a game-winning run for the Lions earlier this season. On first pitch, Mejia hit a no-doubt grand slam to centerfield and the Lions regained the lead in improbable fashion going up 7-6.

Takekuma had a clean 8th inning and Masuda would shut the door as the Lions split the three-game series against the Eagles.

Lions 7, Eagles 6


Despite the miracle win on Sunday, the Lions look like they're in deep trouble with no bullpen help and no defense. They literally threw away Friday's game and blew an opportunity to even sweep the Eagles where Saturday was also winnable.

Each game this week was doable, but all the little mistakes from bats, errors and bullpen made it all become a nightmare. There is an even larger concern with Okawari-kun's injury, Mori being deactivated, no rotation stability and a potentially injured Kishi.

Expectations are officially out the window because this Lions team cannot compete with an incompetent bullpen. They were bailed out by Rakuten's terrible pen which contributed to a non-sweep and even a win.

Too many questions arise with this week of poor defense, bullpen and more. Who becomes the starter in place of Van Hekken?  Who is the setup man now that Tomomi Takahashi is injured? Can Okawari-kun recover from his forearm injury?  It's just too much.


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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Graveyard Baseball Podcast: Lions ŌenDEN Episode 7

This is the seventh episode of Lions ŌenDEN.

In this episode, Christian Gin and Wes Mills about the Saitama Seibu Lions through the first month of the year. There is also discussion on marketing, Pacific League observations, reaction to media predictions and more! 

We apologize for any mispronunciations and sound errors. This recorded on April 18, prior to the series against the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters

Be sure to provide any feedback in the comments if possible. Click here if the embed doesn't work. To download, click here


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Report: Takayuki Kishi to start on April 24; on four days of rest

Baseball in Japan has its differences from its MLB counterparts. One thing notable is how teams will often have a six-man rotation in contrast to a five-man rotation, which is seen in North America.

The reason for this is how teams will play six games a week more times than not, making it simple for pitchers to play once a week compared to every 4-5 days in the major leagues.

For the Saitama Seibu Lions, they will do something similar to MLB this week with the first six-game week of the season. They've had the benefit of the schedule up to this point, where there were only five games each week, making only a five-man rotation to begin the year.

The options were simple, either call up a potential sixth starter to take the extra game or simply have your rotation continue to start on less rest than usual. Seibu is choosing the latter as Yusei Kikuchi was announced as Thursday's starter for a game against the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. He last pitched on Friday, April 15 and it means he will start on five days of rest.

This chain will continue presumably with Ken Togame starting on Friday, Andy Van Hekken taking Saturday and Takayuki Kishi starting on Sunday against the Rakuten Golden Eagles in the upcoming series. Kishi started on Tuesday and lost in a 1-0 defeat. He had 90 pitches in a losing effort after being yanked through six innings.

Logically speaking, the Lions are only making this decision for two possible reasons. The first would be to get Kishi multiple starts in a given week, having him take the first and sixth game where the schedule favors it. (He started Game of the 2016 season against the Softbank Hawks on purpose in contrast to Opening Day). The other would be the feeling that no farm pitcher is ready to take the sixth rotation slot and the team doesn't trust a spot starter in the short term.

There are plenty of options in ni-gun from Kona Takahashi, Isamu Sato and even having Kazuhisa Makita take over as a starter if they chose to. However, this week becomes more hectic on pitchers with this plan.

It goes against NPB by playing more than once a week and bucks tradition, but this is a call where the Lions probably have both reasons as to why they are taking this path for the week. We don't think this trend will continue, but having Kishi take the front and back end of this week, knowing he's the best pitcher on the team, makes some sense.

With this move, the Lions made themselves more flexible and can still wait out a decision on who becomes the sixth starter. They have a five-game week the following week from April 26-May 1. Two weeks from now should determine who can be the sixth starter after some extra evaluation time in ni-gun.


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Sunday, April 17, 2016

2016 Seibu Lions Weekly Digest: Throwing games away with offensive offense

The Saitama Seibu Lions went 1-4 combined against the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks and Orix Buffaloes this week. They're back at .500 with a 9-9 record as the month of April is more than halfway through.


Game 1 against the Hawks saw a rematch from two weeks ago between Tsuyoshi Wada and Takayuki Kishi. It wasn't the greatest outing from the team's ace, as he gave up three runs, including a solo home run from reigning Pacific League MVP Yuki Yanagita.  The Hawks would also score through situation hitting with a runner on third, having RBI groundouts and a sacrifice fly.

This didn't come without chances, however. Ernesto Mejia was up twice with runners on the corners, but couldn't punch in the runs. Shuta Tonosaki also had a chance late in the game, but struck out. Wada wasn't perfect, but he went six innings with only one earned run thanks to a solo HR from Takeya "Okawari-kun" Nakamura. He allowed plenty of runners, but no one would touch home plate.

After Wada left the game, the Hawks bullpen shutdown the Lions and made it easy. Dennis Sarfate would strike out Yuji Onizaki to end the game and the Lions lost their second straight.

Hawks 4, Lions 1


In Game 2, the Lions faced the red hot Kodai Senga against Ryoma Nogami for their first of what will be three games in Omiya. The Hawks struck first with an early RBI single fro Seiichi Uchikawa in the third inning.

The Lions had their chances, particularly in the fifth inning with runners on the corners and two outs. However, a strikeout ended the frame when Senga challenged Okawari-kun on a fast ball. Seibu was not able to muster up any rallies or chances until there were two outs. Otherwise, Senga was cruising.

It was not a poor outing from Nogami, who went six innings with one earned run, but he kept allowing base runners and would be partially lucky not to allow more runs where the team was getting out hit.

The Hawks would break the game open against the Lions bullpen after Shota Takekuma would allow a run and Kazuhisa Makita did no better in the 8th. He would give up base hit after base hit to make it a 5-0 ballgame after eight innings.

Shogo Akiyama prevented a shutout in the 9th when he hit a deep double to right-center field and Onizaki would score from first base. Otherwise, Senga still had a complete game and it looks like it could be this way for a decade at this pace.

Other note:

-Shuta Tonosaki also had two errors, but neither of them cost the team runs.

-Yuki Yanagita had three hits on the night and reached base four times adding a walk. He has walked at least once in each of the 15 games played up to this point.

Hawks 5, Lions 1


In Game 1 against Orix in Kyocera Dome, Yusei Kikuchi faced Kazuki Kondo. The Lions squandered an early chance with two runners on and no outs, which resulted in a Houdini for Kondo.

Orix struck first on a sacrifice fly from Brent Morel in the third. Kikuchi escaped the inning with minimal damage, but a painful fourth put this game out of reach. With runners on the corners and two outs, Kikuchi struck out Yuki Miyazaki, but Ginjiro Sumitani couldn't hold onto it and had to throw to first. His throw to Yuji Onizaki (who was playing 1B instead of Mejia) was high and it was snow coned to a drop as a run scored from 3rd.

Masahiro would make Sumitani pay with a triple on the next at-bat to make it 4-0 and it would be 5-0 from a single by Yoshio Itoi.  This put the game out of reach as Orix would go up 6-0 in the 5th and Kikuchi would only go 4.1 innings.

Ryo Sakata would add some runs to prevent a shutout, but it was too late. This game had an unusual lineup where Shotaro Tashiro was starting in RF while Onizaki was at 1B and no Tomoya Mori playing. If Mejia was at 1B, he would catch the throw from Sumitani easily and the Lions would've been in it.  Unfortunately the bats were not alive until it was too late.

Buffaloes 7, Lions 4


In Game 2 at Hotto Motto Stadium in Kobe, it was Chihiro Kaneko against Ken Togame. Seibu struck first, pulling off a successful double steal as Mejia struck out. Onizaki would steal second while Akiyama was able to reach home plate easily.

Orix would answer back with single from Itoi followed by a throwing error from Tatsuyuki Uemoto leading to him being pushed to third base. Brent Morel would single him home with two outs to tie the game.

Mejia put the Lions up with a deep solo HR to centerfield in the fourth, but it looked like things would unravel in the bottom of the 5th. A flurry of bloop singles and a bunt from Nishino made things dangerous. Brian Bogusevic tied the game with an RBI single and bloop singles from Masataka Yoshida and Takuya Hara made it 4-2 for Orix after five innings.

Things were becoming boring as Kaneko looked like he was on cruise control through mostly 7 innings. However, a throwing error had Mejia reach first in the sixth. Captain Takumi Kuriyama would then hit a double in the gap to score Mejia from first to bring the Lions within one.

Orix manager Junichi Fukura left him in for the eighth inning and then everything unraveled. Onizaki had a leadoff single and Okawari-kun would walk after a long at-bat.  Kuriyama would load the bases with one out on a sharply hit single. It was up to Uemoto hoping to redeem his mistake.  He hit one past Ryoichi Adachi through the infield and tied the game at 4-4.

A struggling Hideto Asamura would later hit a slow roller to 2B, but had no chance of a double play for Nishino to make, creating only a force out at second. Sakata delivered insurance with a gapper and made sure the Lions wouldn't look back as the team went up 7-4.

This was a game where Fukura made one large mistake in keeping Kaneko on the mound for the 8th. Orix doesn't have the most reliable bullpen in the world, but Fukura waited until it was too late to put in a reliever with runners on base. Pitch count was high, for Kaneko, but he was also getting hit hard and the clean 7th inning was a smokescreen most likely to make the manager think he could squeeze an 8th.

The hard part about this game was how there were several errors that fortunately didn't cost the Lions. Players were getting on base, whether it was a slip from Asamura to a throwing error by Uemoto. Togame also tried a pickoff attempt which went away leading to a runner advancing 90 feet. Lastly, the Lions couldn't even handle a pickle attempt where Brent Morel fought off multiple throws and was awarded third base due to a path being blocked.

With all the terrible errors, Orix handed this one to Seibu and we'll take it. It wasn't pretty as the scoreboard indicates though.

Lions 7, Buffaloes 4

Game notes: 

-This is the third time Ken Togame started and got a no decision with Kazuhisa Makita getting credit for the win in relief.


In the third game against Orix, Andy Van Hekken faced Yuki Nishi, who is off to a slow start. The Lions struck first on a RBI single from Naoto Watanabe in the top of the fourth, but the bottom frame hurt them the most.

Van Hekken couldn't handle the bottom of the lineup as the bases were loaded with no outs all due to hard hit singles. Adachi would get a sacrifice fly to tie the game and Takuya Shimada took Van Hekken deep with a three-run home run to left field, putting Orix up 4-1 after four innings. Orix added another in the 5th as Yoshida sliced a single off Chun-Lin Kuo to make it 5-1.

Mejia was able to get a consolation home run in the 7th, but that was as close as it got.  The Lions had plenty of chances with two runners on as they got 10 base hits, but no runs to show for it. The bases were loaded for Okawari-kun in the third, but he struck out while Mejia would strike out in the 8th with two on base.

Nishi, off to a slow start in 2016, was able to weather the storm going six innings with seven strikeouts while reaching 125 pitches. The Lions forced him to work for every out, but Van Hekken's fourth inning did him in.

Buffaloes 5, Lions 2


This brutal 1-4 week just didn't have the competence in the field nor with the bats. Seibu saw the front end of Orix's rotation in Kaneko and Nishi and were shutdown for the most part. The Hawks also shut the Lions down with Wada and Senga.

The bats were dead, but so was the defense. Shuta Tonosaki might have lost his way with the team's management after he was benched due to errors this week. Mori doesn't have a position while Asamura is on a cold streak.  We can only hope the bats rebound as the team heads to Sapporo Dome to take on the Fighters.


Wes Mills also contributed to this report.  

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

2016 Seibu Lions: How the roster was built

Photo from the Lions twitter in Miyazaki at an intrasquad game
The 2016 Saitama Seibu Lions roster was put up on the NPB website. They also added three new coaches to the staff and promoted a handful of them from within.

After further research, we looked back at draft history and where the players were taken from. Whether it's an industrial league, university or high school level, or even an ikusei pick, almost everyone came from the draft. We removed the school/industrial league team of origin, but the spot where each player was taken or signed is now public in English. 

Here is a compiled list of players with their estimated 2016 salaries revealed. This list does not include signing bonuses, which some rookies received. To estimate ¥ yen in US Dollars, move the decimal place over twice, where an example of ¥100,000,000 is about $1,000,000. A legend is listed below and notice some players have more than one letter or symbol next to them.

All listings come from the NPB Website and draft archives, which were only available in Japanese. We successfully have the data in English for the 2016 Lions roster.

Starting Pitchers:

Takayuki Kishi (11) [Kibouwaku pick, 2006] $U; ¥225 million
Andy Van Hekken (47) [Purchased contract rights, November 2015]*&; {Nexen Heroes, KBO} ¥144 million
Ken Togame (21) [1st round draft pick, 2011] I; ¥60 million
Felipe Paulino (4) [Free agent, 2016]* {Cleveland Indians AAA} ¥60 million
Ryoma Nogami (20) [2nd round draft pick, 2008] I; ¥58 million
Yusei Kikuchi (16) [1st round draft pick, 2009] HS; ¥55 million
Chun-Lin Kuo (12) [Free agent, 2014]*  {Taiwanese National Team U23} ¥30 million
Kona Takahashi (17) [1st round draft pick, 2014] HS;  ¥18 million
Makoto Aiuchi (41) [2nd round draft pick, 2012] HS;  ¥7 million
Isamu Sato (63) [5th round draft pick, 2012] HS; ¥5 million

Relief Pitchers: 

C.C. Lee (54) [Paid about $350K-$500K for contract, November 2015]*& {Cleveland Indians} ¥84 million
Kazuhisa Makita (35) [2nd round draft pick, 2010] I;  ¥75 million
Tatsushi Masuda (14) [1st round draft pick, 2012] I; ¥70 million
Tomomi Takahashi (43) [4th round draft pick, 2012] I; ¥58 million
Shota Takekuma (48) [4th round high school draft pick, 2007] ^;  ¥38.5 million
Atsushi Okamoto (22) [6th round draft pick 2003] U; ¥31 million
Esmerling Vasquez (42) [Free agent, 2014]* {Arizona Diamondbacks/Minnesota Twins}; ¥24 million
Yosuke Okamoto (30) [6th round draft pick, 2009] I; ¥23 million
Yasuo Sano (34) [2nd round draft pick, 2014] U; ¥12 million
Takuya Toyoda (19) [3rd round draft pick, 2013] I; ¥11.2 million
Tatsuya Oishi (15) [1st round draft pick, 2010] U; ¥11 million
Ryohei Fujiwara (28) [3rd round university draft pick, 2007] ^ ¥10 million
Toshihiro Iwao (31) [3rd round draft pick, 2009] U; ¥10.5 million
Takayuki Yamaguchi (40) [5th round draft pick, 2013] I;  ¥8.5 million
Kazuki Miyata (68) [6th round draft pick, 2008] U; ¥8.5 million
Hirotaka Koishi (29) [2nd round draft pick, 2011] I; ¥8 million
Kentaro Fukukura (50) [7th round draft pick, 2013] U; ¥6.5 million
Yusuke Tamamura (38) [4th round drafft pick, 2014] HS ¥6 million
Yuta Nakazaki (46) [1st round draft pick, 2008] HS  ¥5 million

Rookie Pitchers:

Shinsaburo Tawata (18) [1st round draft pick, 2015] U;  ¥15 million
Seiji Kawagoe (26) [2nd round draft pick, 2015] U; ¥12 million
Shogo Noda (23) [3rd round draft pick ,2015] I; ¥12 million
Tadasuke Minamikawa (36) [5th round draft pick, 2015] I;  ¥10 million
Keisuke Honda (45) [6th round draft pick, 2015] U; ¥7 million
Tsubasa Kokuba (57) [8th round draft pick, 2015] U;  ¥6 million
Koki Fujita (67) [9th round draft pick, 2015] HS; ¥5 million
Naoaki Matsumoto (66) [10th round draft pick, 2015] I; ¥5 million



Ginjiro Sumitani (27) [1st round high school pick, 2005] ^;  ¥100 million
Tomoya Mori (10) [1st round draft pick, 2013] HS;  ¥40 million
Masatoshi Okada (37) [6th round draft pick, 2013] I; ¥14 million
Tatsuyuki Uemoto (49) [6th round draft pick, 2002] I; ¥12 million
Takanori Hoshi (25) [Trade with Yomiuri Giants for cash] #; ¥10 million
Shota Nakata (64) [6th round high school draft pick, 2007] ^; ¥6.8 million
Komei Fujisawa (78) [Ikusei pick, 2011] iU; ¥5 million



Takeya "Okawari-Kun" Nakamura (60) [2nd round draft pick, 2001] HS; ¥410 million
Ernesto Mejia (99) [Free agent, May 2014]* {Atlanta Braves AAA}  ¥300 million
Hideto Asamura (32) [3rd round draft pick, 2008] HS; ¥100 million
Naoto Watanabe (8) [Trade with DeNA for RP Shuichiro Osada, 2013] #; ¥52 million
Yuji Kaneko (2) [3rd round draft pick, 2012] U; ¥24 million
Yuji Onizaki (5) [Trade with Yakult for RP Chikara Onodera, 2011] #; ¥23 million
Shogo Kimura (0) [Free Agent] %; {Hiroshima Carp and Yokohama Baystars} ¥20 million
Shuta Tonosaki (44) [3rd round draft pick, 2014] U ¥14 million
Kyohei Nagae (59) [4th round draft pick, 2011] HS ¥11 million
Hotaka Yamakawa (33) [2nd round draft pick, 2013] U; ¥10 million
Kazuki Kaneko (56) [4th round draft pick, 2013] HS; ¥6 million
Haruka Yamada (52) [5th round draft pick, 2014] HS; ¥6 million
Daichi Mizuguchi (00) [Ikusei draft pick, 2012] iI; ¥5.5 million

Rookie Infielder:

Nien Ting Wu (39) [7th round draft pick, 2015] U;  ¥6 million



Takumi Kuriyama (1) [4th round draft pick, 2001] HS;  ¥200 million
Shogo Akiyama (55) [3rd round draft pick, 2010] U; ¥150 million
Yutaro Osaki (9) [6th round university draft pick, 2006] ^;  ¥23 million
Shogo Saito (65) [7th round high school draft pick, 2007] ^; ¥16 million
Fumikazu Kimura (51) [1st round high school draft pick, 2006]^; ¥16 million
Masato Kumashiro (58) [6th round draft pick, 2010] I; ¥15 million
Ryo Sakata (88) [4th round draft pick, 2008] U; ¥12 million
Naotaka Takehara (6) [Free agent] %; {Orix Buffaloes and Chiba Lotte Marines} ¥12 million
Shotaro Tashiro (61) [5th round draft pick, 2011] U; ¥6.4 million
Hitoto Komazuki (62) [3rd round draft pick, 2011] HS; ¥5.3 million
Daisuke Togawa (71) [Ikusei pick, 2014] iHS;  ¥5 milllion

Rookie Outfielder:

Aito Otaki (53) [4th round draft pick, 2015] HS; ¥6 million



U - Drafted out of University/College

I - Drafted out of Industrial or Independent League

HS - Drafted out of High School

^ - Drafted in a year where High School and University drafts were separate. From 2005-2007, those taken in high school were separated from those taken out Universities or Industrial/Independent League teams.
$ - Kibouwaku Pick - From 2005-2007, teams and players (only at the University and Industrial level) were allowed to reach an agreement prior to the draft. This would forego any first and second round draft pick in the University draft. Prior to 2005, this was known as Jiyū-waku and teams would forfeit a first round draft pick.

* - Foreign import signing 

& - Purchased contract rights from another team. {Team listed in curly brackets}

# - Traded domestically

% - Domestic free agent (Passed a tryout and earned a roster spot)

i - Ikusei draft pick. It's similar to how an NFL practice squad works, except they're drafted in an ikusei round after the initial NPB Draft.  For more information, you can click here. The Lions currently have no one on their ikusei roster and have three former picks promoted to the 70-man roster.


Lastly, here is the coaching staff of the Lions both at the ichi-gun and ni-gun level (according to the Lions website).

Head Manager (Supervisor)
90 Norio Tanabe (田辺 徳雄)

Ichi-gun Coaches
81 Hidetoshi Hakamada (袴田 英利) – Chief and Battery
86 Tetsuya Shiozaki (潮崎 哲也) - Head Coach and Pitching
73 Hideki Hashigami (橋上 秀樹) - Strategy*
80 Shigenobu Shima (嶋 重宣) – Batting
76 Masahiro Abe (阿部 真宏) - Batting
82 Masanori Taguchi (田口 昌徳) – Battery*
72 Yoshihiro Doi (土肥 義弘) – Pitching
74 Narahara Hiroshi (奈良原 浩) – Infield defense and Base-running (3B coach)
70 Tomoaki Sato (佐藤 友亮) – Outfield defense and Base-running*
92 Shinobu Sakamoto (坂本 忍) - Training
96 Tatsuya Nakano (中野 達也) – Training

Ni-gun Coaches
83 Hisanori Yokota (横田 久則) – Farm Manager
75 Hiroyuki Takagi (高木 浩之) – Farm Hitting and Head Coach
91 Eiji Kiyokawa (清川 栄治) – Farm Pitching
85 Miyaji Katsuhiko (宮地 克彦) – Farm Batting and outfield defense
89 Shinji Mori (森 慎二) – Farm pitching and training
84 Kosaku Akimoto (秋元 宏作) – Farm Battery
77 Shogo Akada (赤田 将吾) – Farm Development
87 Tetsushi Kuroda (黒田 哲史) – Farm infield defense and Base-running
98 Takafumi Sato (里 隆文) – Farm Training
95 Haruki Kurokawa (黒川 春樹) - Farm Training

* New coach

The biggest thing to note is how Tetsuya Shiozaki was promoted to being the Head Coach, which is the equivalent to being the bench coach in MLB terms. It's possible that he is the next one in line to be manager after Norio Tanabe.


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Saturday, April 9, 2016

2016 Seibu Lions Weekly Digest: Homers produce wins in decent week

Photo Credit: Seibu Lions
The Saitama Seibu Lions went 4-1 combined against the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters and Chiba Lotte Marines in what was a solid week.


In Game 1, the Lions took it to Fighters' starter, Mitsuo Yoshikawa, chasing him in the fourth inning after an 8 run frame, punctuated by a grand slam by Hideto Asamura, which was his first home run of the season. Impressively, all the Lions runs scored in that inning came with two outs.

A Gin-chan ground rule double was so poorly played by Fighters' right fielder, Shingo Ishikawa, that it landed in the visiting bullpen after landing in fair territory. The next play would see Ryo Sakata double one into the gap that would score two and make it 3-0 Lions.

After a single by Tonosaki and a walk for Akiyama, the bases were loaded for Yuji Kaneko who would draw a walk of his own and expand the Lions lead to 4-0 Lions. Then came the big blast from Asamura on a 1-0 pitch that soared into the Lions Ōendan and made it 8-0.

Tomoya Mori would later tag a home run in the 5th off of Yohei Kagiya, for his first home run of the season.

The Lions would see Ryo Sakata add to his big day with a solo homer in the 8th to give the Lions the double digit mark of 10-0, it would be the final tally of the game.

On the mound, Takayuki Kishi was nothing short of brilliant as he threw his changeup early and often. It proved to be quite effective in producing weak contact. He'd finish with a complete game, one-hit shutout. His line would read 9.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BBs, 4 Ks, and 1 HBP, giving him a Bill James Pitching Game Score of 88. Kishi earned his 2nd win of the season and hasn't given up any runs in his first two starts of this season.


-Okawari-kun hit a triple during the 8 run inning which is noteworthy because it is the 11th of his career and the first since 2014. The triple gave the Lions the "inning-cycle," and provided an interesting note for those of us who love Takeya Nakamura.

-Yuji Kaneko made the start in RF for the Lions and looked quite comfortable, Sakata would play in left field with Kuriyama getting the night off due to cramps. Shotaro Tashiro would come in to play right as a defensive replacement and Kaneko would end up finishing the game at his more natural shortstop position.

Lions 10, Fighters 0


In game two, the matchup between Anthony Bass and Ryoma Nogami took place at the Seibu-Prince Dome and it was the second inning that ended up defining the game.

Nogami would see Fighters' third baseman, Brandon Laird taking him deep to give the Fighters' a 1-0 lead, but Laird would be involved in a critical play that would in many ways decide the game.

A leadoff walk to Tomoya Mori would be followed by consecutive singles by Ernesto Mejia and Ryo Sakata which would tie the game. Gin-chan would then lay down a sac bunt to make the situation runners on second and third with one out for Yuji Onizaki.

Bass then tried to catch Ernesto Mejia napping at third by trying to pick him off, and unfortunately for Bass, his third baseman, Brandon Laird was not paying attention on the play and the ball rolled to the bullpen wall and allowed both Mejia and Sakata to score, giving the Lions a 3-1 lead with the error charged to Bass. The play in my view was ill-advised since it's a low percentage play that's usually quite awkward since third basemen don't hold runners, but Laird is still equally to blame for the brain fart.

Nogami would settle in and deliver a fine performance that saw no resistance during his 6 inning outing after Laird's home run. And uncharacteristically, Nogami missed a lot of bats during this start as he'd strikeout 6 batters. And he'd finish with a line of 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 BBs, 1 HBP, 6 Ks, 1 ER.

More defensive calamity would ensue for the Fighters in the 5th with Gin-chan starting off the inning with a leadoff single, Yuji Onizaki would bunt him over to second with Shogo Akiyama at the plate. Anthony Bass would then throw a ball that landed a whole foot in front of the plate and proved to be trouble for Fighters' catcher, Tomoya Ichikawa who could not corral the wild pitch and couldn't find it after the ball kicked off his body. It took so much time for Ichikawa to find the baseball that Gin-chan was able to score all the way from second to make it 4-1 Lions.

Bass would then give up back to back hits to Akiyama and Yuji Kaneko, therefore spelling the end of his day at 4.1 IP with 2 ER charged to him.

The Lions would need to build a bridge to end of the game, and that bridge would start with Kazuhisa Makita who pitched one inning and allowed two hits, but no runs. Then Norio Tanabe would give the 8th to Tomomi Takahashi who'd complete a 1-2-3 top of the 8th.

The Lions would stretch their lead to 5-1 thanks to a leadoff single from Okawari-kun that would start off the bottom of the 8th inning. Shuta Tonosaki would come in to pinch run for Okawari-kun and Tonosaki would steal a bag right away off of Hirotoshi Takanashi. Tonosaki would score after back to back singles from Ernesto Mejia and Ryo Sakata.

In the 9th, Tatsushi Masuda would struggle in a non-save situation giving up two hits and a walk which would see the Fighters make it 5-2 on a fielders choice. Masuda would give up no more runs and the Lions would complete their sweep of the two game set over the Fighters.

Lions 5, Fighters 2


The week shifted to Chiba as the Lions would take on a red hot Marines time who came off a series win in Fukuoka. Yusei Kikuchi faced Takuya Furuya in Game 1.

After the Marines struck first on a key gapper from Alfredo Despaigne, Ikuhiro Kiyota was safe at the plate for the opening run.  The Lions would answer in the second with two runs of their own, one coming off a sacrifice fly from Asamura. He would add a third run off an RBI fielder's choice.

Kikuchi wasn't the most dominant in his start, allowing two runs over six innings with six strikeouts. Each strikeout was huge in the 5th and 6th inning where he got Kiyota and Shogo Nakamura swinging in the 5th. The sixth inning had the Marines get a run through a sacrifice fly from Daichi Suzuki to bring them within 1. With two outs and runners on the corners, Kikuchi got Tadahito Iguchi to strikeout and end any threat.

In the 7th, Hideto Asamura had magic on his side, as he hit one to 3B Kei Hosoya. With two in scoring position after bunting them over, Hosoya couldn't field the ball cleanly and it bounced into no-man's land and two runs would score.

In the bullpen, Makita would allow a run, but no more in the 7th while Takahashi had the most encouraging outing of the year with two strikeouts in the 8th. Masuda would end the game in the 9th after getting a comebacker 1-6-3 double play from Despaigne.

Lions 5, Marines 3


In Game 2, it was Ken Togame taking on Yuta Omine in the battle of mid rotation starters.  Togame would blink first allowing the first two runs of the game off an easy gapper from Tatsuhiro Tamura.  A brutal error from Okawari-kun would keep the rally alive and the runs came with two outs.

The Lions tied it up in the third after Mori walked with the bases loaded for the second straight game and Asamura had an RBI double play. Togame coughed up another run after Kiyota doubled and plated Yoshifumi Okada. Chiba would add a fourth run off a sac fly from Shogo Nakamura.

Despite the two run lead, the Marnies couldn't get a shutdown inning. Gin-chan was on base and Shogo Akiyama worked from an 0-2 count to a full count and hit a home run to the Marines' Oendan to tie the game.

Togame's day was done after four innings, where he was getting hit hard all afternoon. Kazuhisa Makita took over and delivered a strong outing of four scoreless innings in long relief as the bullpen ace. He would only strike out two, but kept drawing weak contact in order to get outs.

Ernesto Mejia was up to bat in the 5th and Masaki Minami was on the bump for Chiba. With two strikes, Minami would hang a slider for Mejia to crush deep to left-center field and the Lions were in front for the first time at 5-4.

Even though Makita had a great outing, the 9th inning didn't come without some drama. Masuda would come in and walk Okada with one out. Hosoya would find a gap to right field where there two in scoring position and one base hit could've ended the game in sayonara fashion.

The Lions would choose to intentionally walk Kiyota to load the bases, meaning Masuda would have to pitch to Despaigne. He would foul out to 1B and then it all hinged on Katsuya Kakunaka. On a 2-1 pitch, Kakunaka would flyout to centerfield and Masuda pulled off the houdini to secure the team's fourth straight win.


-Kuriyama was the DH as he continued to battle cramps. Tomoya Mori would bat second in the lineup for the fourth consecutive game.

Lions 5, Marines 4


Game 3 was a battle of foreign pitchers in Jason Standridge and Andy Van Hekken. Both of them were looking for their first win of the young season.

Standridge gave up the first two runs with hits from Okawari-kun and Mejia, but would settle in for the next six innings. Van Hekken would allow one run through a two out hit by Nakamura. In the third, Tadahito Iguchi would golf swing a three-run home run which gave Chiba the lead for good. An error by Mejia is why the inning was kept alive.

The best chance from the Lions came in the 5th inning with runners on the corners, but Okawari-kun would ground into a double play to end any threats.  Tatsuya Uchi retired the order through the 8th and Yuji Nishino shut the door in the 9th inning to close the game.

While the bats were dead majority of this game, the Lions still made Standridge work for outs. It wasn't until late in the game where he was on cruise control.

Marines 4, Lions 2


With a successful week in the books, we can only hope the momentum carries forward as they see the Hawks and Buffaloes in the coming week. The win in QVC combined with a Fighters beatdown is encouraging.  Pitching will need to get better, but it's a good sign how Nogami and Kishi looked, in contrast to Togame.


Christian Gin also contributed to this report. 


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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Sixth Sense: Who becomes the Lions sixth starter?

On paper, Kona Takahashi could be the sixth starter
The Saitama Seibu Lions benefit from the schedule, giving them weeks to figure out their rotation. Right now, they can play a five-man rotation until April 21st, where it will be their first Thursday game of the 2016 season.

For now, this leaves a question mark that not even the Lions themselves can answer. Who is their sixth starter? This question will be answered through ni-gun and what the coaching staff sees downstairs.

Competition should play itself out and someone will emerge. The other possibility is that the Lions can treat that slot for a spot starter in a pinch based on the matchup, but it would be unconventional.

Here are some candidates who could be the sixth starter in the rotation:

Kona Takahashi: This one is pretty obvious, as he was the team's first round pick out of high school in 2014. He had a promising rookie season with his share of ups and downs, but there's no denying he has upside which is why the Lions took this Koshien star. He is coming off a fractured cheek injury where he was hit by a ball thrown by an umpire, which delayed his chance in the rotation earlier. He did start some ni-gun games, so it appears he's healthy.  He did however, walk several batters.

Isamu Sato: Sato has been with the team since 2012 as he was drafted out of high school. He is currently 21 and is possibly groomed to be a starter ready for ichi-gun action. His spring training impressed coaches and we should see him make an appearance if everything goes right in ni-gun. Competition between Takahashi, Sato and Ryoma Nogami were big near the final week of open-sen.

Yasuo Sano: Sano was a spot starter for one game last year in Hokkaido where he went four innings with three earned runs. He received extra work over the winter in the Australian Baseball League, being an extra starter Down Under. A second round pick in 2014, he could be a future rotation candidate, but most likely has an uphill battle.

Kazuhisa Makita: The Lions could be tempted to make him a starter after his solid six inning performance as the long reliever / bullpen ace on March 26.  He did fine last year as a starter, giving them the logic of "why not start him again?" Personally, we would be against this option as the bullpen would take a major hit.

Chun-Lin Kuo: Kuo was the Lions' 6th starter in 2015 as he was signed as a top amateur free agent out of Taiwan. While he had his ups and downs, he did what was expected as a rookie entering his first year as a professional. The Lions currently have him in the bullpen, but could treat him like a spot starter if they wanted to do so.


Outlook: I personally think it will be a matter of if Takahashi is ready for the April 21 deadline. They could always milk it to April 24, which is the last day of the first six game stretch for 2016. If not, Sato looks like the prime candidate if the Lions management is satisfied with his performance in open-sen and ni-gun. Both guys should still be battling for the next two weeks.

We really hope Makita doesn't become a starter, nor Kuo. Both guys look to be built out of the pen, especially with Kuo struggling when he faces the batting order for the second time. Takahashi's health should decide it. Presumably he will start the game on June 24 in Gunma prefecture, which is near his high school.


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Sunday, April 3, 2016

2016 Seibu Lions Weekly Digest: Series lost in Sendai; split in Fukuoka

Credit: Seibu Lions
The Lions would go 2-3 in five games against the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks and Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles for the week. They're currently out of the cellar thanks to the Orix Buffaloes being blow them.

Game 1 against the Hawks involved a masterful outing from Takayuki Kishi. It was Opening Day for the defending champions in Fukuoka and the Lions were looking to make a statement.

They were able to chip away at recently returned pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada, who came back to Japan after a stint with the Chicago Cubs. Shogo Akiyama, Takeya "Okawari-kun" Nakamura and Hideto Asamura contributed to the action, which included two players getting four hits apiece.

Kishi went seven innings and didn't allow any runs. He had some great defense behind him, but made sure to not let any damage happen when there were runners on base.  Okawari-kun laid the big exclamation mark with a solo home run in the 9th inning to put the game away for good at 6-0.

The Hawks added two runs in the 9th inning to prevent a shutout off C.C. Lee, but the door was closed when Tomomi Takahashi got Yuki Yanagita to ground out.

Seibu Lions: 6 Softbank Hawks 2


In the second game, Ryoma Nogami made his first appearance of the season and had issues with control near the end. He would allow a solo home run to Yanagita, who is the reigning Pacific League MVP. Nogami also didn't get help from his defense, as Shuta Tonosaki could not convert a double play.

The Lions would trail 5-1 heading into the seventh inning as Tomoya Mori would get three hits in his first start of the year. The top of the 7th is where the drama would begin, as the Lions chipped their way back to 5-4 after Kodai Senga was caught with a balk. Ernesto Mejia would ground out and end a threat to tie the game.

Yosuke Okamoto would give up the 5th run, which would prove to be vital for the ninth. With Dennis Sarfate in, Ginjiro "Gin-chan" Sumitani would get a leadoff single and give the Lions a chance. Daichi Mizuguchi made his ichi-gun debut as a pinch runner and was bunted over to second by Masato Kumashiro. After Yuji Onizaki grounded out, Akiyama would walk on a full count.

With Kuriyama batting, he would strikeout after check swinging on a high pitch. Despite being picked to lose, the Lions made it close with the tying run on third base and made it interesting as they split in the house of horrors known as the Fukuoka Yafuoku! Dome.


-Mizuguchi became the first ikusei promoted Lions' draft pick to appear in an ichi-gun game. He was drafted in the ikusei round back in 2012 and earned a promotion last year.

-Hotaka Yamakawa was deactivated as the corresponding move to bring up Nogami to the ichi-gun. This was presumably performance related.

Softbank Hawks: 5 Seibu Lions: 4


In Game 1 against the Eagles in Sendai, Yusei Kikuchi took on Takahiro Norimoto. Rakuten drew first blood off some early hits against Kikuchi.

Kikuchi was able to go eight innings, but only had two strikeouts and put the ball in play more times than not. Errors by Tonosaki and Sumitani made this game out of reach as the Eagles would lead 4-0 after four innings. Tonosaki was too aggressive on a ground ball where he would go past him while Sumitani had a throwing error on a bunt.

Norimoto was dominant for the most part, striking out 12 Lions on the day and going eight innings. The Lions offense had two chances, mostly in the 2nd with two on as well as in the 7th. Naoto Watanabe came in as a substitute for Tonosaki and got a single, advancing to third on a passed ball. He would score on Akiyama's groundout and the Lions also added a run in the 7th when Gin-chan had a single with two runners on. There was two on for both Ryo Sakata and Watanabe, but they came up short striking out.

Yuki Matsui worked a quick ninth inning and the Lions lost their second straight. Offense was mostly dead, but Norimoto was dominant from the beginning and the team's speed helped the Eagles get on base.

Rakuten Eagles: 4 Seibu Lions: 2


In Game 2, Ken Togame faced Takahiro Shiomi, but it was a no contest from the start. The Lions scored first off a groundout, but it was a nightmare for Togame, as he would struggle in the third inning, only able to get one out. He would be tagged for five runs, all without a home run.

Togame's pitches were becoming hittable and had no ability to draw whiffs. Yosuke Okamoto couldn't do better, as he went 1.2 innings with six earned runs, all coming in the fourth inning. It would lead to his deactivation in place of Hirotaka Koishi.

Toshiaki Imae was the biggest culprit of the game, as he had three hits and four RBIs, but everyone on the Eagles contributed to a slaughtering. Every starting player had at least one hit on the game. Chun-Lin Kuo was able to eat up three innings while C.C. Lee took the ninth.

At the end, it was a disaster for the Lions where only Yuji Onizaki had a late home run as a consolation.

Rakuten Eagles: 15 Seibu Lions: 4


For Game 3, Andy Van Hekken took the pitching duties and faced Yoshinao Kamata, who is on a recovery season after surgery for 2016.

The Eagles struck first in the third inning with two key hits from Ginji Akaminai and Zelous Wheeler to take a 2-0 lead. Seibu would answer back, with two runs of their own with hits from Mejia and Sakata in back-to-back fashion.

It became a low scoring affair which involved a handful of double plays and minimal chances. It took a leadoff single from Ernesto Mejia to start the 9th inning. After the Lions pinch-ran him for Mizuguchi, they used Masatoshi Okada to bunt him over to second successfully. Gin-chan would ground out to first advancing Mizuguchi again.

Batting 9th, Onizaki had an opportunity to give the Lions the lead for good. He came through on a single to LF and the team never had to look back.

Tatsushi Masuda came in for the first save opportunity entering a 9th inning in the 2016 season. After Eigoro Mogi forced a long at-bat, he got Jonny Gomes to groundout and Kazuya Fujita to end the game, snapping a three-game skid.

Seibu Lions: 3 Rakuten Eagles: 2


It's been an ugly week, but the Lions are only 4-4 and right at .500. Despite all the troubles in pitching, we can only hope for further improvement in both the rotation and bullpen.


Wes Mills also contributed to this report. 


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