In this edition of the Interleague Preview I will take a quick look at our next 2 opponents in Interleague play.
Saitama Seibu Lions: Having just written up our team’s fifth loss in a row in Interleague play, I’m not sure it it’s wise to take any PL team lightly. So it’s probably a good idea to not get too excited about what I’ve written about the Seibu Lions, nothing is guaranteed. That being said, the Lions have sunk to the PL basement despite making a bit of the run in the Climax series last year. With Hiroyuki Nakajima’s failed posting the Lions look to be roughly the same team as last year’s edition. Unfortunately the team has been hit hard by slumps to key players like ace Hideaki Wakui and reigning NPB homerun king Takeya Nakamura. Wakui completely lost his control and was even relegated to the bullpen before being deactivated recently amid tabloid reports of a relationship with a hostess. Nakamura, on the other hand, had only hit 1 homerun going into interleague and was sporting an abysmally low BA. But the CL may be doing the big boy some good, as he managed to jack 3 homeruns (including 2 against Yokohama) since the beginning of Interleague play. With Wakui struggling, Takayuki Kishi has been the team’s de facto ace with a 4-4 record, 1.82 ERA, and 0.91 WHIP. Sophmore submariner Kazuhisa Makita leads the team with a 1.78 ERA, but like many submariners has struggled with consistency. Former Swallow Kazuhiya Ishii is still pitching serviceably for the Lions as well. On the offensive side Takumi Kuriyama and Shogo Akiyama have been hitting well, but the team is lacking the pop the team has displayed in previous seasons. The Lions also come into their series against the Swallows on a 4 game losing streak having been swept by the Giants and the Dragons.
Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles: The Eagles go into today’s game with a half game lead over the Hawks for third in the PL. It seems the Eagles have earned third on the back of some remarkably average numbers in both offense and pitching. On offense, Ryo Hijirisawa is looking sharp at the plate with a .327/.377/.357 slash line to go with his 23 SB. Motohiro Shima at catcher is also putting up good numbers (.309/.402/.373) again this season. However, as the two player’s SLG% show this team is not a power hitting team by any means. Kazuo Matsui leads the team with 3 homeruns, but he’s hardly a power threat. On the pitching side, Mashihiro Tanaka is of course the staff ace and has pitched that way when healthy. Unfortunately for the Eagles, Tanaka has been out since mid-April although he is expected to return sometime soon. Although it looks like the Swallows will manage to avoid him this weekend. With the loss of Hisashi Iwakuma to the Seattle Mariners, the Eagles don’t have as potent a rotation as in the past. Sophmore Takahiro Shimi is looking to step up and is pitching well, but is still prone to be lit up incurring the wrath of manager Seiichi Hoshino. The Eagles have gone 4-2 over the first 6 games of Interleague.