Ok, got back from the game about a half hour ago. I was actually stupid enough to walk back all the way home from the Tokyo Dome (but I thought it was much closer!) and probably won't be doing that again any time soon.
BTW: I think I walked about 8-10 kilometers (5-6 miles) in about an hour and a half. It actually wouldn't have been half bad if it was during the day.
As for the game itself... It was a little slow.
And either China's pitching has really improved, or Japan's offense stunk things up -- they should have been able to score at least 2-3 more runs.
It was nice to see Aoki hit a run scoring double and Murata a 2-run home run, but there were a number of chances Japan squandered over the first few innings. It also didn't help that Ichiro continues to struggle at the plate (0-for-5). He did make a nice play in the field though.
Just a recap on some of the failed situations:
- First inning, 1 out, runner on third.
- Second inning, runners on first and second, with no out, Johjima hits into a double play to pretty much kill the inning.
- Fourth inning, with runners on second and third, and 1 out, Ichiro grounds out to second and Johjima gets thrown out at home.
- Still in the fourth inning, with the bases loaded and two outs, Aoki lines out to first.
- 6th inning: with runners on first and second and no out, Iwamura strikes out. Ichiro doesn't do much better, grounding into a fielder's choice.
There was also a failed bunt attempt by Johjima in the 8th that could have moved Kataoka over to third with 1 out. But with the way the offense was sputtering, chances are Kataoka would have ended up stranded at third.
Samurai Japan's pitching was decent. I was hoping to see Darvish pitch another inning, but Hara yanked him after 4 innings and 46 pitches. I guess Hara wanted to give some of the inexperienced pitchers a turn -- specifically Wakui (2 innings / 26 pitches), Yamaguchi (.2 innings / 7 pitches), and Tanaka (.1 innings / 7 pitches). And then Mahara (1 inning / 10 pitches) and Fujikawa (1 inning / 20 pitches) came in for the last 2 innings -- not much of a surprise.
The relievers weren't quite as overpowering as I thought they would be. And they seemed a little more hittable than I would have liked, but they got the job done.
I took about 300-350 pictures and shot video of the opening ceremonies. I'll try to post both as soon as I can. I'm also running up close to a deadline, so I may not be able to post all of what I want to until a little later.