Patrick Newman continues his excellent series of articles about following the game in Japan. The first part outlined the very best English resources on the web. The second installment looks at global communities for NPB enthusiasts. The latest chapter is about watching action from afar.
In his most recent columns for One World Sports, veteran reporter John E. Gibson looks at the end of an experiment with Wladimir Balentien and laments the wasted potential of a preseason ballgame between budding superstars Shohei Otani and Shintaro Fujinami.
March 8, 2014
Saturday afternoon was a pretty good time to be a baseball fan in Japan. It wasn’t exactly balmy weather, but for many it was the first opportunity of the new year to see a game. Five out of the six contests on the schedule were played outdoors in parks waking from winter slumber.
Carp 6 Swallows 4
The Hiroshima Toyo Carp and Tokyo Yakult Swallows met at Fukuyama Stadium. Swallows first sacker Kazuhiro Hatakeyama found first base all five times he came to the plate. Two walks and two singles were nicely complimented by a home run in the 3rd inning. In the Carp victory, Kosuke Tanaka went yard in the 8th inning and Shota Dobayashi finished his afternoon just a home run shy of a cycle.
Eagles 1 Dragons 0
The Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles challenged the Chunichi Dragons at Muscat Stadium in Kurashiki. Kazuo Matsui debuted with the Seibu Lions in 1995 at the tender age of 19. Playing in the 19th spring of his professional career, Kaz tripled in the 5th inning to set up the only run the Eagles would need for a shutout. The game was streamed live by the Chunichi Dragons and archived for fans.
Fighters 6 Tigers 5
The Hanshin Tigers hosted the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters at historic Koshien Stadium. Two exciting young talents took the hill. Shohei Otani faced the Tigers for 5 innings, struck out 4 and gave up 2 hits, a walk and a run on 71 pitches. Shintaro Fujinami battled the Fighters for 5 innings and racked up 6 strikeouts while allowing 9 hits, a walk and 5 runs on 101 pitches. Atsushi Kita hit a solo shot in the 7th that turned out to be the winning run for Hokkaido.
Giants 9 Buffaloes 1
The Orix Buffaloes and Yomiuri Giants entertained 16,309 fans at Kyocera Dome in Osaka. Shuichi Murata led off the 2nd with a solo shot and Kyojin added 2 more in the 4th. In the 6th inning, the Giants ravaged the herd for a half dozen on 5 singles, a double and a two-run dinger from Hayato Sakamoto. Takuya Shimada singled and brought Ryoichi Adachi home for the only Buffaloes tally in the 8th inning.
Lions 9 Bay Stars 6
At Yokohama Stadium, just over 14,000 watched the hometown DeNA BayStars face the Saitama Seibu Lions. All 9 Lions runs were driven in by a quartet of kitties. Fumikazu Kimura smacked a dinger and sent three home. Yutaro Osaki went yard and brought a pair across the dish. Shogo Akiyama added 2 more with a double. Hideto Asamura made the most of 3 trips to the plate with 3 trips to first base and knocked in two as well. The BayStars scored 6 on 13 hits, but never led in the ballgame. Hiroyuki Shirasaki only grabbed a bat once, but seized his opportunity with a solo shot in the 8th inning for the final Yokohama run.
Hawks 6 Marines 3
The Chiba Lotte Marines hosted the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks at QVC Field. The Hawks scored a pair in the top of the 2nd inning to take the lead, but the Marines quickly answered with 3 in the bottom of the frame. The hometown nine was ahead for only a brief moment before the Hawks scored another pair in the top of the 3rd inning. The birds from Fukuoka banged out 17 hits on the afternoon, but the game remained tight until the final pair of runs came home on a pinch hit Tu-Hsuan Lee tater in the top of the 9th inning.