Wow... This is a BIG blow to the Eagles. And this is exactly why the Eagles might not make it past the Fighters: they don't have any quality arms in the pen.
Still, what a great game. And the Fighters just kept on applying the pressure. A very impressive victory by the Fighters.
|Nippon Ham Fighters||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||3||5x||9||13||0|
Sapporo Dome | Attendance: 38,235 | Time: 3h 28m | Fighters lead series, 2-0
Terrmel Sledge left the Eagles stunned as he drilled a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the 8th to give the Fighters a 9-8 victory in front of 38,235.
The Fighters took a 1-0 lead in the bottom 1st on a sac fly by Shinji Takahashi (1-for-2, 2 BB, 2 R, 2 RBI) after Kensuke Tanaka (3-for-5, 2B, 2 R) led off the inning with a double, advanced to third on a sac bunt, and was joined on the base paths by Atsunori Inaba (3-for-4, 2 2B, BB, 2 R, RBI) via walk.
The Eagles wasted no time in tying the game in the top of the 2nd on an RBI single by Daisuke Kusano (1-for-3, 2 RBI) with Toshiya Nakashima (2-for-3, 2B, R) on first and Takeshi Yamasaki (2-for-5, 2B, R, 3 RBI) on second and only 1 out. Aggressive base running by Nakashima led to an out at third and kept the Eagles from perhaps having an even bigger offensive inning.
In the top of the 4th, the Eagles pulled ahead on a sac fly by Kusano with runners on second and third and 1 out. Todd Linden (1-for-4, RBI) followed with a RBI single into right that gave the Eagles a 3-1 lead.
With the bases loaded in the top of the 7th, T. Yamasaki nailed a 2-out double that cleared the bases and put the Eagles up by 5.
But the Fighters weren't ready to thrown in the towel yet -- beginning in the bottom of the 8th, they chipped away at the Eagles' lead.
With Satoshi Nagai still on the mound for the Eagles, Tanaka struck out to start the inning. Hichiro Morimoto (2-for-3, 2 R) hit a single into center and Inaba followed with a double that put runners on second and third. Takahashi's single into center drove in the first run of the inning and knocked Nagai out of the game, runners on first and third. Hiromichi Fujiwara relieved Nagai and gave up an RBI single to Terrmel Sledge (3-for-5, HR, R, 5 RBI), runners on first and second. Shinichiro Koyama relieved Fujiwara and threw a wild pitch that advanced the runners to second and third. After Koyama managed to strike Eiichi Koyano (0-for-4) out for the second out of the inning, the Eagles' brought in Kanehisa Arime. But Arime couldn't get the job done, first throwing a wild pitch to allow the third run of the inning to score and then walking pinch hitter Tomohiro Nioka (0-for-0, BB) on 5 pitches. Tsuyoshi Kawagishi relieved Arime and ended the nightmare of an inning by getting pinch hitter Naoto Inada (0-for-1) to fly out to left.
A 2-run homer by Teppei (2-for-4, IBB, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI) in the top of the 9th provided the Eagles with a 4-run lead that appeared to be the last nail in the coffin for the Fighters. But that was obviously not be the case.
Kazuo Fukumori took the mound for the Eagles in the bottom of the 9th and retired the first batter he faced. And then the meltdown began: three consecutive singles by Tanaka, Morimoto, and Inaba pushed across a run; a walk to Takahashi loaded the bases; and Sledge's homer over the left field wall to complete an unbelievable come-from-behind victory.
7th: runner on second, 2 out > Seguignol grounded out
1st: runners on first and third, 2 out > Koyano struck out
3rd: runner on second, 1 out > Inaba grounded out, runner to third, Takahashi struck out
6th: runners on first and second, 1 out > Sledge struck out and Koyano grounded out
8th: runners on first and third, 2 out > pinch hitter Inada flied out
Eagles: 5 LOB, 0 DP
Fighters: 7 LOB, 1 DP
The Fighters outhit the Eagles, 13-12. ... Sledge's walk-off grand slam was the first of its kind in postseason play.
|Nagai, Satoshi||1||0||0||0||7 1/3||121||31||26||8||0||6||2||0||2||0||0||4||4||4.909|
|Koyama, Shinichiro H||1||0||0||0||1/3||6||1||1||0||0||1||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0.000|
|Kawagishi, Tsuyoshi H||1||0||0||0||1/3||2||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0.000|
|Fukumori, Kazuo L||1||0||1||0||1/3||21||6||5||4||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||5||5||135.000|
Nippon Ham Fighters
|Takeda, Masaru||1||0||0||0||6 1/3||80||28||26||9||0||1||0||1||0||0||0||5||5||7.105|
|Sakamoto, Yataro||1||0||0||0||1 0/3||19||4||4||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||1||9.000|
|Hayashi, Masanori W||1||1||0||0||1||13||4||3||1||1||1||0||0||1||0||0||1||1||9.000|
...Takeshi Yamasaki rounded up the pitchers to give them a pep rally after the game and said,"Don't get down! Fukumori, don't worry about it, keep your chin up! The loss hurt. But let's just say Darvish pitched tonight and gave the Fighters a 2-0 series lead. Let's get passed this and play with positive energy tomorrow!"
...At some point during the 8th, Atsunori Inaba apparently began to feel that the Fighters could stage a comback.
...Masataka Nashida on the victory:
"I can't believe Sledge hit a walk-off grand slam. I was a miracle shot. We were down for most of the game, but we somehow managed a win with the help of everyone on the team. This is a big win."
...Atsunori Inaba's comment:
"I don't think there's been a game better than this. I think more than half of the people gave up on us. I almost cried."
...Katsuya Nomura interview after the game:
On the collapse of the bullpen...
You're absolutely right. The pitchers are going through a good experience right now. This is the team's current skill level so it can't be helped. I tried everything I could and we still lost so you have to tip your hat to the other team.
The team managed to overcome a pitcher, Masaru Takeda, they've had trouble with in the past...
Is there a need to say overcome? I think we scored a fair number of runs.
A painful loss...
This loss definitely hurts us. We win today and we're finally tied. We really had to win today's game no matter what. This just puts us at a huge disadvantage.
On the relievers having too much space in between appearances...
I don't have any experience as a reliever, so your probably better off asking one of them. But, most of these guys have never experienced the postseason like this so...
On evening up the series with Iwakuma and Tanaka...
That still doesn't get us to 4 wins. And it's not like the old days where I'd be able to count on a pitcher for four straight starts and four straight wins. (sigh) And we were winning today... We had it won more or less. And this allows the Fighters to relax a little. They have less pressure to play now, this was a big victory for them. Losing a game we were supposed to win really hurts.
...Starters for Game 2: Hisashi Iwakuma (RAK) vs Keisaku Itokazu (HAM)