Yes, the Kouryuusen, or Inter-League, begins tonight.
During the next month the teams from the Central League and Pacific League play each other 4 times, twice at home, twice away. The results apply to the regular season Pennant Race, and the rules from the home team’s league apply- DH when a Pacific League team is at home, and no-DH when a Central League team is.
Tonight sees the Nippon Ham Fighters take on the Yomiuri Giants in the glamour game. Of more importance to me, is the battle between Hanshin and the Softbank Hawks at the Yahoo! Dome (the corporate sponsorship stinks, doesn’t it). This means Hanshin will have a Designated Hitter- a batter who does not field, instead replacing the pitcher in the batting line up (the pitcher does not pitch). A more in depth look at this rule will probably be forthcoming at another time, but now lets preview the teams…
Fukuoka, home of tonkotsu ramen and fiery Kyushu spirits, is also home to the SoftBank Hawks baseball team. This season the Hawks have a 0.459 average, yet lie in 5th place in an extremely competitive Pacific League. I won’t claim to know much more about them than that- I’ll just point out that tonight’s starter is Sugiuchi, who has an average of 2.74 over the 6 games he’s played. Also their mascot looks more like Big Bird than a Hawk.
Hanshin, meanwhile, hand the DH spot to Imaoka after Mench’s disastrous comeback in the whitewash at the hands of the Swallows. Pitching is Kubo, who is on 3.47, Kanoh is back behind the plate and Hirano moves back to take the 9th batters position.
＜＜＜Ａ ＦＥＷ ＨＯＵＲＳ ＬＡＴＥＲ＞＞＞
Nippon Ham Fighters beat the Yomiuri Giants, routing them 16-6 and getting a massive 20 hits.
Rakuten Eagles lost to the Yakult Swallows 7-3 in the unwelcome surprise of the evening.
Seibu Lions lost to the Chunichi Dragons 7-5 in another surprise on what I expected.
Bobby’s Marines beat the Yokohama Baystars 2-1
Orix Buffaloes lost to the Hiroshiam Carp 9-1
Well, my trip to the gym didn’t involve missing too much baseball as I got to watch snippets of Doosan vs Heroes and Yomiuri vs the Ham Fighters. I did miss Hanshin though. I missed us drag out another low scoring game into overtime, missed us get eleven hits but only 1 run, and missed us fail to win a game we needed to win. Actually I didn’t miss all this- I was back in time for the overtime, although I needn’t have bothered.
Kubo was more than a match for Sugiuchi, giving up only 2 hits and getting 5 strikouts from eight innings of pitching. Our problem though was our offence- Arai, Sakurai and Kanoh all got 2 from 5, the highlights of a bad bunch, with Kanemoto and Toritani both having bad days. 11 hits and 1 run reeks of a chance wasted, yet without wanting to be fatalistic is this just the form we’re coming to expect from Mayumi’s bunch? The danger of calling for a head of a manager is that it heaps further pressure on the team, yet can anyone honestly say they can see the situation improving? For all his quirks, Okada – last seasons manager – isn’t looking so bad after all…