Saturday, April 01, 2006

Baseball Season is Here!!!

Went to Jingu stadium for opening day last night. The Tigers (same knuckleheads my family was in town to see last fall) again got outclassed by the Tokyo Swallows. Final score: Hanshin Tigers (defending Central League champs) 3 -- 4 Tokyo Swallows.

All my preseason hopes may indeed be very close to reality! We have four hitters in the middle of our lineup who have had 40 home-run seasons, a leadoff man who had over 200 hits last season, and a bullpen bursting at the seams with young talent and former major leaguers.

Ishikawa started for Tokyo, and pitched well even after acknowledging that he gave up a 2-run homer in the process. He was followed by Kida (formerly with the Dodgers and Mariners), who fanned four and gave up one run in two innings of work. Igarashi, one of the hardest throwing pitchers in baseball, effectively mixed in his offspeed stuff and slider to retire the side in the 9th with 14 pitches.

I imagine that we'll see Ishii pitch for the first time when we play the Giants in the next series of the season. I'm also looking forward to seeing Takatsu come in to work his old magic. He reportedly throws faster now than when he left Japan a few years ago. He's got age going against him, but we have enough options sitting next to him in the bullpen that we should be able to keep him from throwing more than one inning at a time.

If we get the run support that the lineup is capable of providing, we should easily be able to rest our starter after five innings of work, even if his pitch count is modest. Furuta (player-manager) won't hesitate to let pitchers work out of a jam, especially since he will be catching them and seeing firsthand whether or not they're struggling. At the same time, he might opt to rest guys with an eye on the post-season.

Game two of the three game series is this afternoon at two o'clock p.m.

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