Monday, September 19, 2016

2016 Seibu Lions Weekly Digest: Kishi and Tawata shine in winning week

For a week that was shortened due to no makeup games, the Lions had an unusual week and started a stretch of nine consecutive games.  One lone outing against the Chiba Lotte Marines as well as a three game wrap around series vs the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.


In the lone midweek game against the Marines, Takayuki Kishi would face Jason Standridge. It would live up to the hype of a pitcher's duel, where the only run scored came in the 5th inning on a single from Nien Ting Wu. Hotaka Yamakawa was tagged out at the plate on another single.

The Marines had a chance in the 7th inning, but Hideto Asamura robbed Kazuya Fukuura of a hit with a diving stop and Naoto Watanabe was able to stay on the bag. Kishi looked like he was cruising, with 8 scoreless innings. However, Katsuya Kakunaka took a pitch deep as the first batter of the 9th inning to tie it all up.

Kishi would irrationally pitch the 10th inning and had his own scare with a runner on second after a bunt. He had to get Ryuzo Hijii to flyout and after a walk to Takashi Ogino, the pressure was on knowing he had the ace treatment. Yoshifumi would lineout to second base and end the threat, bringing the game to 11 innings

Asamura, already making a play with his glove, did it with his bat in the 11th with a solo home run that went opposite field. Even he wasn't sure it was gone and had to see an umpire signal for it to be out as it bounced back into the turf. Tatsushi Masuda closed the game in 1-2-3 fashion, where it ended on a clean groundout requiring great fielding from Asamura.

This was the final game of the season between both teams. As a result, both Oendans made an exchange after the game singing each other's songs.

Lions 2, Marines 1 (11 innings)

Game note

-Hirotaka Koishi was activated for Yasuo Sano.

-Kishi reached the milestone of 1,500 career innings pitched in NPB.


For the first game against the Eagles, Takahiro Norimoto would take on Yusei Kikuchi. The game lived up to the hype of a pitcher's duel, where runs would be minimal.

The Lions scored in the third inning with an improbable sequence. With two outs, Kaneko singled and stole second base. He would later advance to 3rd on a wild pitch. Shogo Akiyama then hit a comebacker off Norimoto's mitt and Eigoro Mogi couldn't field it cleanly, making Kaneko score from third base.

Another run came out of nowhere with two outs again in the 4th. Tomoya Mori singled and Takumi Kuriyama brought him home with a gapper down the right field line. In the 5th inning, Kikuchi's control faded and he loaded the bases. However, he would escape as Kazuo Matsui flied out to second base and end the threat.

The Lions added a third run as Kaneko was on third base. Okawari-kun would barely scoot a ball through the infield where Mogi didn't have a play on anyone, scoring Kaneko again.  In the 6th inning, Kikuchi would walk another batter and leave the game in the middle of a 1-2 count on Zelous Wheeler, citing a possible blister problem.

Tatsuya Oishi came in with no outs, but got Wheeler to flyout. Toshiaki Imae would also flyout while Mogi walked. Hiroaki Shimauchi would then groundout, creating the ultimate Houdini for Oishi as it saved the game.

Shota Takekuma allowed a leadoff double in the 7th, but didn't allow anything else. Kazuhisa Makita gave up a solo home run to Carlos Peguero in the 8th inning to make it a 3-1 game. Masuda took the 9th inning and shut the door without any drama. It would be the Lions' second win in a row.

Lions 3, Eagles 1

Game note:

-Kaneko had three stolen bases on the night. He was caught stealing third base after a successful trip to second base. It's possible he was trying to pad his numbers and chase Yoshio Itoi's currently league leading record for the season. He reached the 50 stolen base mark.


The second game against the Eagles would feature two young pitchers in Tomohiro Anraku and Keisuke Honda. This would be Honda's first career ichi-gun start and second appearance.

Honda struggled out of the gate and couldn't strike anyone out. Zelous Wheeler would score on a sacrifice fly from Shimauchi for the first run. With Mogi beating a double play, the inning would continue and Kazuya Fujita singled as well. Yuichi Adachi would double the lead with a single past the infield.

For Honda, he would only last 2.2 innings, giving up two more runs in the third. They would come from a double by "Ginji" Akaminai and single from Mogi making it 4-0.

The Lions bats were mostly cold, only mustering up a chance with runners on the corners and two outs, but Hotaka Yamakawa struck out against Anraku. Ginji added another run in the 5th inning to make it 5-0.

Felix Perez would break the game open with a three-run home run off Kona Takahashi. The Lions and Eagles traded runs in the late innings, but it was already over before it started.

Anraku would pick up his second win of the season and third in his career. He would go 8 innings and record five strikeouts.

Eagles 10, Lions 2

Game note:

-Naoaki Matsumoto would pitch two innings of low relief.

-This game featured a total of four players from the 2015 Seibu Lions draft class. Wu and Honda started while Matsumoto and Shogo Noda appeared out of the bullpen.

-Honda was deactivated to make room for Shinsaburo Tawata. The deactivation ended his ichi-gun season.


The rubber match against the Eagles featured Wataru Karashima vs Shinsaburo Tawata. After an initial slow start in the first inning from Tawata, he would escape with runners on the corners situation with a groundout.

Seibu's bats looked cold initially, but came alive in the bottom of the 3rd. Yamakawa would single and Yuji Kaneko snuck one past the infield to create a chance. Akiyama's bloop single fell for the first run of the game. Karashima would then struggle, walking three consecutive batters in Asamura, Okawari-kun and Mejia to send in two more runs. Mori put on the exclamation point with a two-run single as the bases were still loaded.

Tawata was solid for seven innings, but the 7th was a scary one. He gave up an inside the park home run to Mogi as Yuji Kaneko couldn't play the fly ball off the wall, bouncing away to centerfield. A barrage of three consecutive hits would allow another run, but a sliding catch from Takumi Kuriyama limited the damage overall.

Norio Tanabe would irrationally leave Tawata in for the 8th inning and he gave up two singles. However, with two outs, he would strikeout Mogi to end the threat in what was a scary frame.

Masuda took the 9th with no fanfare to seal the series and a win.

Lions 5, Eagles 2

Game note:

-Mori would start at catcher for the entire series.


The Lions played some respectable baseball for the week minus one goose egg. Lots of what could've been for the season, irrationally leaving the pitcher in and Kaneko attempting the 2016 stolen base king accomplishment (he trail Yoshio Itoi of the Orix Buffaloes).

The series in Osaka against Orix will determine if the Lions can pull away from the Pacific League cellar for good or not.  Can they do it? It's a nine game stretch with some spot starters inbetween.


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