Sunday, July 2, 2017

2017 Seibu Lions Weekly Digest: Mori remembered as bats go cold


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The Saitama Seibu Lions would fail to win a game this week with a loss in Okinawa against the Chiba Lotte Marines and being swept by the Orix Buffaloes. Their lead is down to 3.5 games as they remain in A-class. Here is how it all happened:

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Game 1 from Okinawa had Kota Futaki and Ryoma Nogami scheduled to start. However, this would have a long delay due to the rain. The Marines would have a 3-0 lead after a timely hit from Shogo Nakamura and two sacrifice fly balls from Ryo Miki and Jimmy Paredes.

This game would be called in the top of the third as the rain became too excessive and no stats would count in the books. There will be a makeup game scheduled at MetLife Dome later in the year. The Lions were also without a hit through two innings against Futaki.

Daichi Mizuguchi ran around the bases in the rain. Tadahito Iguchi, who will be retiring at season's end, also ran around as well as tripping at first base. 

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Shinsaburo Tawata returned for the next game to face rookie Chihaya Sasaki. The Marines struck first on an RBI single by Shohei Kato in the top of the third. Sasaki looked like he was cruising, but control was fading in the 5th inning with two walks. Yuji Kaneko took advantage of this and tied the game with an RBI single of his own, ending Sasaki's night.

Tawata settled in for the most part, but couldn't get a shutdown inning in the top of the 6th as Katsuya Kakunaka and Willy Mo Peña gave the Marines the lead again with two RBI hits. He would leave in the middle of the frame.

The Lions answered back in the bottom of the 7th as Shogo Akiyama hit his 15th HR of the season, which is a new career high. Hideto Asamura tied the game with an RBI double to make it 3-3.

Brian Schlitter and Tatsushi Masuda took the 8th and 9th innings with no damage, but the Lions missed a chance to end the game in the bottom of the 10th off Tatsuya Uchi. With two runners on base, Ernesto Mejia and Shuta Tonosaki struck out.

In the top of the 11th, Jimmy Paredes would reach base on a fielding error by Mejia. It would be Miki who would drive in the winning run on a single and give the Lions their second straight one-run loss.

Marines 4, Lions 3 (11 innings)

Game notes:

-To make room for Tawata, the Lions deactivated Shogo Kimura as the corresponding move.

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The Lions would return to MetLife Dome for hte first time in three weeks as the Orix Buffaloes came to town. Rookie Taisuke Yamaoka was up against Yusei Kikuchi. The Buffaloes struck first on a solo HR by Chris Marrero in the top of the third.

Seibu had a chance to answer, but a double play with the bases loaded by Ernesto Mejia ended the threat. There were other times throughout the game where the bats were cold, including another ground ball leading into a simple out.

Marrero would hit a second HR out of the park which would put the Buffaloes up 3-0 in the 5th inning. Kikuchi would go seven innings with eight strikeouts, but also gave up 11 hits. Yamaoka would silence the bats with the ground ball throughout the night and only allowed two hits and three walks through eight shutout innings.

The Lions had one final gasp in the 9th inning with the bases loaded and Yoshihisa Hirano pitching, but Takumi Kuriyama would strikeout and Shuta Tonosaki gruonded into a fielder's choice to end the game.

Buffaloes 3, Lions 0

Game notes:

-Shinsaburo Tawata was deactivated on the off day as IF Haruka Yamada was called up.

-A ceremony and moment of silence took place for the late Shinji Mori before the game.

-Katsunori Hira\i pitched a scoreless 8th inning, but allowed two base runners.


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Game 2 against Orix had Takahiro Matsuba facing Ken Togame. It would be another slow start for the Lions as Orix tagged them early on. Consecutive hits, a HBP and more would ruin Togame's 2nd inning. Koji Oshiro would get a flare to fall with the bases loaded and two runs would score. Shunta Goto added on with a two-RBI double to make it 4-0.

Togame would go five innings, allowing a total of nine hits and only three strikeouts. His command was shaky and missed location when Masatoshi Okada called for something else. The Lions got on the board with an RBI single by Daichi Mizuguchi. Takeya "Okawari-kun" Nakamura would hit a solo HR in the 7th to make it closer.

That would be it as the Lions reached base in both the 8th and 9th inning, but couldn't do anything else. Hirano shut the door again as the team lost their fourth straight.

Buffaloes 4, Lions 2

Game note:

-Sosuke Genda was the leadoff hitter for the first time. He would go 0-4.

-Fumikazu Kimura started in RF and went 0-2.

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The final game of the series had Brian Wolfe against Brandon Dickson in a battle of gaijin pitchers. This time, the Lions scored first with an RBI double from Okawari-kun in the bottom of the 1st. Asamura would be caught trying to advance to third, costing the team a run. Takumi Kuriyama plated Okawari-kun making it 2-0.

Orix responded quickly with a solo HR from Stefan Romero in the top of the second. It would be Marrero again to cause trouble and tie the game with an RBI single in the top of the 4th. The Lions created a chance in the bottom of the 4th off a double by Takumi Kuriyama, which would be his 300th double in his career. Ginjiro Sumitani would plate him and give the Lions a lead again.

Wolfe was unable to get a shutdown inning and couldn't escape the 5th as an error from Okawari-kun started a rally. Romero tied the game with an RBI single and Marrero would plate two more with the bases loaded, making it 5-3.

The best chance for the Lions came in the bottom of the 6th with two runners on and no outs. Mejia fouled out, Tonosaki struck out while Sumitani popped out to end the threat. Shuhei Kojima added an insurance run off Shota Takekuma to put the game away for good as the Lions lost their 5th straight.

Buffaloes 6, Lions 3

Game notes:

-Kuriyama had a modasho while Brandon Dickson only went five innings.

-Hirai had to clean up the 5th inning and pitched the 6th inning to keep the game within reach.

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With this being the first winless week of the season, it's easy to be down. The hitting is unclutch, though the players are still getting on base. Pitching is uncertain and there has been a cloud of grieving with the recent loss of Shinji Mori.

The show must go on, but has that blown save by Tatsushi Masuda in Fukuoka become the negative turning point of the season? They'll have a game in Tokyo Dome very shortly with an irregular week coming up.

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While our podcast for June was recorded, the recent news of Shinji Mori and Tamotsu Nagai has forced a delay.  We apologize for the inconvenience.  

Follow us on Twitter @GraveyardBall

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