Lions Win Lions Win!!
Posted by simon c on 2008 November 10日 Monday
The Saitama Seibu Lions are the 2008 Japanese champions having won a thrilling game 7 against archrival, and the New York Yankees of Japan, Yomiuri Giants 3-2 in the deciding game. The guys at the Tokyo Yakult Swallows blog has what I know as the fastest championship game write up.
The Lions overcame many obstacles, like missing sluggers GG Sato and Craig Brazell (well, the latter was an OBP black hole so I don’t think he was missed much) from September on, and losing the starting catcher with some pop in Toru Hosokawa and having 5 tool shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima injured in game 5 where the team outhit the Giants but were unable to come up with any clutch hits or extrabase hits (except for a late solo shot).
Some photos and movies from game 5 at the Seibu Dome on Thursday 6 November.
Cheering for Nakamura in a scoring opportunity:
“We are the Lions” (the flags give a neat crowd effect when cheering):
Reliever Chikara Onodera warming up:
Dude sitting in front of us with a creative “hyaku-ju no oh” (rhymes with 100 10 0) meaning “king among beasts” Lions uni:
7th inning stretch jet balloons:
Game 6 swung the other way as the Giants were unable to capitalize on numerous opportunities, and Seibu in a desperate move brought in game 4 starter Takayuki Kishi on 2 days rest in the 4th inning to put out the fire. He went on, incredibly, to finish the game. It was like watching high school baseball with the ace always ready to pitch in any game. Hopefully Kishi’s arm hasn’t received any permanent damage from this, many Japanese pitchers have their careers ruined by overuse, but then again some have genetically freaky rubber arms like erstwhile Lion and current Boston Red Sox Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Game 7 was a thriller from start to finish, with declining veteran and long time team ace Fumiya Nishiguchi being handed the ball to start off the game. He was shaky and gave up 2 runs in 2 innings and was substituted for pinch hitter Akira Etoh. Then the Lions pitchers proceeded to shut down the powerful Giants lineup with 2 innings each from starters Kazuhisa Ishii and Hideaki Wakui, an inning from reliever Tomoki Hoshino, then 2 innings from closer Alex Graman, all perfect in relief not allowing a single runner on base.
On the offensive side, the second pinch hitter in the game Hiram Bocachica hit a homerun to make it a 1-2 game (then he proceeded to swing for the fences on succeeding at bats being easily struck out by high fastballs out of the zone, but that’s here nor there). Then in the 8th Giants reliever Daisuke Ochi became shaky in his 2nd inning of work and hit leadoff hitter Yasuyuki Kataoka (who was delighted to be able to get on base and even clapped his hands after being hit) who promptly stole 2nd on the very next pitch, then Takumi Kuriyama bunted him over to 3rd and Nakajima drove him in with a grounder to short to tie the game. Inexplicably (but luckily for the Lions) Ochi was left in the game to walk cleanup hitters Takeya “Okawari” Nakamura and Taketoshi Goto before allowing the hit by Hiroshi Hirano to drive in the game winning run, and that’s all Seibu needed to seal the deal (though driving in Shogo Akada from 3rd with no outs in the 9th would’ve been a nice insurance).
Kishi took home the series MVP having won 2 games. His first win was an absolutely impressive complete game shutout in game 4, then he went on to save the day in game 6 on 2 days rest.
Anyways, congratulations Saitama Seibu Lions, you are the 2008 Japanese chamions!!
Japan Series banner sign:
Series MVP Kishi being tossed high into the air by teammates:
More portly manager Hisanobu Watanabe’s doage: