11/6/08 – Japan Series – Saitama vs. Yomiuri – Game 5

November 6th, 2008

Tokyo Yakult Swallows capYomiuri Giants 7

Saitama Seibu Lions 3

(Seibu Dome)

A seventh inning Wakui meltdown was the story of this game.

One out into the inning, riding a decent six frames of two-hit, one-run baseball (with six K’s against one walk), the wheels came completely off the Wakui express.

Prior to the great unraveling, Saitama was protecting a 2-1 lead. The Lions managed to score a single run in both the first and third innings off of Yomiuri starter, Kouji Uehara (who lasted only three innings, by the way), and Wakui had given up a solo home run to Abe in the second.

But then the tune of the downhill slide went a little something like this:

First, Ramirez doubled, then Abe brought him around on a single to right. All tied, 2-2.

Then Kamei immediately doubled to center to put guys on second and third.

That was followed by a triple by Wakiya that just barely stayed in the park. 2-4, Yomiuri.

Wakiya promptly trotted across home plate when Sakamoto roped a double to left. 2-5, Yomiuri.

And that was the end of Wakui’s night.

The truly shocking thing was that most of those hits only required one or two pitches. It wasn’t like guys were battling Wakui and fouling off pitch after pitch. The pitches just kept floating right over the middle of the plate, and the very next camera angle (for five batters in a row) generally showed the ball ricocheting off the outfield wall.

And now with the emergence of Daisuke Ochi as a postseason pitching machine, the Yomiuri bullpen is arguably better than the starting rotation–and I’m not really even counting Kroon.

Yes, Kroon was partly responsible for several dozen of his team’s wins during the regular season, but I’ll take Kiyoshi Toyoda (a former Seibu Lion) in the postseason anyday. When Toyoda pitches in the playoffs, batters do not make it to first base. Period.

Speaking of Kroon, he came on in the ninth and gave up a home run and a single before recording the third out.

Yomiuri now leads this series three games to two. The teams head east to Tokyo Dome for games five and six (if necessary).

Game five is on Saturday and starts at 6:15 PM.

About Christopher Pellegrini

Christopher is a budding sabermetrician and long-time supporter of Tokyo's more lovable team, the Swallows. He has publicly volunteered, several times, that he plans to buy the team at some point in the future. When he finally runs the joint, it is likely that he will fine any player who swings at the first pitch or sac bunts (unless it's a pitcher, of course). Follow him on Twitter: @chrispellegrini

  • Work schedule allowed me to attend this frustrating game. Watanabe has no confidence in the bullpen, so he left in Wakui too long in the game. And losing both Hosokawa and Nakajima dealt heavy blows to both the Lions offence and defence. Now the Lions have to win game 6 with either Kaz Ishii or Hoashi, not a good prospect, to give the ball to Kishi in game 7. The Lions got plenty of hits this game, but not enough extra base hits to drive in all those runners which were LOB.

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