The Saitama Seibu Lions went 1-4 for the week against the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles and Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. They’re officially in the cellar of the Pacific League.
Game 1 was cancelled rained out where Yusei Kikuchi was scheduled to see Takahiro Shiomi. Instead for Game 2 with a late first pitch, it would be Isamu Sato with his first career start against Manabu Mima.
The Lions were on the board first when Ginjiro Sumitani had an RBI single in the second, but disaster struck in the bottom of the frame. With two outs and two strikes, rookie Eigoro Mogi would hit a three-run home run that would barely stay fair, giving the Eagles a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
There were multiple threats from the Lions including a bases loaded situation in the first, but no runs would come in. The Lions would get another run in the fourth with another RBI single from Sumitani, but nothing more. There were runners on the corners with no outs and Yuji Kaneko was batting, but he would ground into a 6-2 double play which went to review at the plate. Shogo Kimura would be tagged before he would get his hand on the plate and the team would fail to score.
Sato wouldn’t allow much until the 5th inning, where the damage would be costly. Sato would walk two batters with a lack of control and his day would be done after 4.1 innings. C.C. Lee would come in and allow a gapper from Toshiaki Imae to make it 4-1. Zelous Wheeler would break it open with w two-run single and the Eagles didn’t need to look back.
Naotaka Takehara would get the Lions a consolation run in the 7th, but it was already 8-3 in what was a messy game overall. Pitching was off, but it would be the last potential straw for Lee.
Eagles 8, Lions 3
-C.C. Lee and Ken Togame were deactivated after the game. Yuta Nakazaki and Kyohei Nagae would be activated.
-Yasuo Sano would make his 2016 ichi-gun debut while pitching the 7th and 8th innings. He would walk three batters and allow two hits, but no runs.
In the second game against Rakuten, it was Takahiro Norimoto against Yusei Kikuchi. This would be a pitcher’s duel as both of them would not allow a run through 7 innings. Norimoto in particular was dominant with 10 strikeouts on the night.
Both teams had chances with the bases loaded and even runners on the corners, but could not bring home a run. Kikuchi was also solid through seven innings in what would be his best pitching performance of the season with 10 strikeouts.
The eighth inning would decide it all, as Masataka Nashida went with Kam Mickolio to pitch for Rakuten and he would pickup a clean 1-2-3 frame. Norio Tanabe elected to go with Kikuchi with just over 100 pitches in the game. It would backfire as Kikuchi walked two batters and the bases would be loaded when Kazuhisa Makita entered the game.
Imae opened the score with an RBI single and the game was broken open with a bases clearing triple by Ginji Akaminai to make it 4-0. Yuki Matsui would finish the game in a non-save situation and the Lions lost their second straight.
This game was the result of Tanabe not choosing to go to his bullpen until it was too late. It’s either he liked what he saw from Kikuchi or just didn’t trust his bullpen, but Tanabe had no business keeping him out there for the 8th inning. Hitting will be feast or famine and unfortunately. Norimoto was on for the day, but it was a winnable game that was a disaster.
Eagle 4, Lions 0
The week then shifted to Sapporo Dome, where Kona Takahashi faced Luis Mendoza in a rematch. Through the first four innings, it had the makings of a great pitcher’s duel as no runs were scored.
After two throwing errors, the Fighters broke the scoring open as Sumitani threw one to left field. The Lions would answer back and tie the game from an RBI double by Mejia. Hideto Asamura would then single with two outs, giving the Lions their first lead.
Takahashi would get a shutdown inning and the Lions padded their lead in the top of the 7th. Shogo Akiyama and Naotaka Takehara had pinch hit singles to make it 4-1.
The bottom of the 7th is where the nightmare came as Takahashi was left in with more than 100 pitches thrown. He would allow two runs from an RBI single from Daiki Asama and a lack of control had them on base. Tanabe would finally take him out and Shota Takekuma would preserve the lead getting two flyouts, but it was 4-3 after seven innings.
Kazuhisa Makita had a quick 8th inning, but the bottom of the 9th would come with horror. Kaneko would have a throwing error to begin the frame to put Haruki Nishikawa on base and Takuya Nakashima’s sacrifice bunt would be botched by Tatsushi Masuda when fielding it. With two on and no outs, Daikan Yoh sacrificed to move both runners into scoring position.
Asama would tie the game with an RBI single and Masuda would have his second blown save of the year. After intentionally walking Kensuke Tanaka and striking out Toshitake Yokoo, it was up to Kensuke Kondo with the bases loaded and two outs. He made no mistake about it and a walked off with a sayonara single to end the game.
Four errors in this game would equate to four runs, making this loss another disgusting one in the books. Tanabe fell asleep at the wheel again leaving in Takahashi too long and even the bats could have padded the scoring.
Fighters 5, Lions 4
In Game 2, Shinsaburo Tawata made his ichi-gun debut against Anthony Bass. His first career inning would be three up/three down with a strikeout against Yoh. Asamura would open the scoring with a solo home run in the top of the second.
However, the bottom of the second was another nightmare. Tawata allowed three consecutive singles and then walked the next three batters, equating to three runs making it 3-1. He couldn’t record an out and his day was done early. Hirotaka Koishi allowed one inherited runner to score making it 4-1 due to a throwing error from Mejia, but made the most of his situation with a 1-6 double play.
Mejia would hit his 15th home run of the season to bring the Lions within two runs. Koishi did his job in long relief, eating up three innings, but the bottom of the 5th is where it got ugly.
Yuta Nakazaki made his first ichi-gun appearance in nearly three years and couldn’t record an out by walking Asama and allowing a hit to Tanaka. With Ryohei Fujiwara coming in, both inherited runners would score with singles from Sho Nakata and Kondo to make it 6-2. Takeya “Okawari-kun” Nakamura would give the Lions a consolation home run in the 6th to cut the lead to three runs.
In the bottom of the 8th, Mejia added more insult with a throwing error leading to another Fighters run. It would’ve been the third out of the frame, but it became 7-3 after 8 innings.
Hirotoshi Masui would close the game with a quick ninth inning and the Lions lost their fourth straight. Tawata’s control and nerves hit him hard in the second and the team couldn’t recover. But even worse, the bats had no life to bring run support outside of solo home runs.
Fighters 7, Lions 3
-To make room for Tawata, the Lions deactivated Fumikazu Kimura.
In Game 3 against the Fighters, it was a rematch of last week where Shohei Otani faced Ryoma Nogami. Nakata opened the scoring with an RBI double off the wall. It was nearly a home run as the ball landed three-feet short of clearing the fence.
Nakata would add another with an RBI single in the third. Seibu would get a run back with Yuji Onizaki earning a walk with one out. Kaneko would bunt and force everything to be in the hands of Masatoshi Okada. Like last week, he would get an RBI single up the middle to cut the Fighters lead in half.
The Lions would later tie the game in the top of the 5th with Akiyama hitting a single, Kuriyama walking and Mejia crushing a 100 mph pitch to right field for a double. Nogami would last five innings with four strikeouts and two earned runs.
Kazuhisa Makita took over and delivered in the 6th inning with a Houdini. He loaded the bases with two hits and a walk, but Asama would get an infield fly and end the threat.
The top of the 7th had Otani stay in the game with a high pitch count and the fourth time through the order. Kuriyama would walk and Mejia would reach on an error, giving Okawari-kun a chance. He made no mistake with a no-doubt, three-run HR to center field. The Lions added another run to make it 6-2 in the 8th inning through a sacrifice fly from Mejia.
Despite a four run lead, the game was far from over. Makita had a clean 7th and 8th inning, but Masuda made the 9th inning interesting with the bases loaded with one out. Nakata would hit a deep sacrifice fly ball that looked like it was gone off the bat making it 6-3. Kondo would flyout and the Lions snapped a four game skid.
Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama gambled keeping in Otani for the 7th and it backfired. The Lions did a good job working up Otani’s pitch count and were able to earn the win in a tough manner.
Lions 6, Fighters 3
This is looking bleak even with a win over Otani. Unfortunately, the managing was incompetent as well as the bullpen. Season looks all but over, but they’re only four games behind the Fighters for third place. Winning can move someone up quickly, but it’s the fifth consecutive losing week for the team.
Not sure when this bleeding will stop, the defense is just too poor besides the rotation being raw. It’s all about developing the kids and nothing else.
Posted by Christian Gin at 1:54 AM
Originally Posted on Graveyard Baseball
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