November 1st, 2008
Saitama Seibu Lions 2
Yomiuri Giants 1
Saitama drew first blood in this series on the back of an eight-inning, one-hit performance by starter Hideaki Wakui. Providing the run support were left fielder, Taketoshi Gotou, who slugged a solo home run over the wall in center in the fifth, and shortstop, Hiroyuki Nakajima, who belted a similar long-ball an inning later.
Mr. Tatsunori Hara, Yomiuri’s manager, gambled by having Kouji Uehara start game one against Wakui. My choice would have been Greisinger, but that’s just me. Not that Uehara pitched badly–he lasted seven innings, gave up only five hits plus one walk and a single hit batter. Pretty solid start, actually, but those two home runs were all it took.
Alex Graman took the mound in the ninth, and he looked to be in a little trouble after Takuya Kimura managed to beat the throw to first to make it one on with no outs. But Saitama second baseman, Yasuyuki Kataoka, displayed his range up the middle a second time and kept Yomiuri from moving pinch-runner, Takayuki Terauchi, over to second on a hard grounder up the middle off of Michihiro Ogasawara’s bat. In fact, Saitama nearly got the double play on that one, but that would have to wait.
With a man on first and one out, down by a run in the bottom of the ninth, Alex Ramirez stepped up to the plate. Nightmare, right? Ramirez had had Yomiuri’s only hit of the game before Kimura led off with a single in the ninth. Ramirez’s double in the fourth inning, aided by a bit of luck when the ball got away from Saitama right fielder, Hiram Bocachica, allowed Takahiro Suzuki to score (Suzuki had reached base on an error to lead off the inning, so Wakui didn’t get tagged with that run).
Fortunately for Saitama, Ramirez hit into the inning-saving play that the Lions just barely missed out on during Ogasawara’s at-bat. Ramirez slapped into a game-ending 1-6-3 double play, and the Saitama Seibu Lions will head back to Seibu Dome with no worse than a 1-1 split after the first two games of this series.
Game two is tomorrow night, again at Tokyo Dome, with the first pitch scheduled for 6:15 PM.