Saturday, April 07, 2007

Darvish Watch: Episode 2

After a disappointing rain-soaked tie in the season opener, Nippon Ham and Yu Darvish were looking to bounce back against the Matsuzaka-less Seibu Lions in the home opener. The entrances given to the players at Sapporo Dome are a bit like a pro wrestling affair, since the days of Shinjo began in Hokkaido, and Darvish was brought to the field in a stretch limo of some kind. The Lions gave Nippon Ham a good run for its money all season last year, but figure to struggle to duplicate that success minus their own #1 guy. Darvish would be matched up opposite rookie right hander Takayuki Kishi (23), who features a 95 mph fastball to go with a big slider. Kishi graduated from Tohoku Gakuin University last year and was the Lions first selection in the amateur draft. There are very high hopes for him in the wake of the Matsuzaka posting and he didn't disappoint.

Kishi was able to match Darvish for 7 innings, allowing 4 hits and two walks, striking out 7 Fighters. He left the ballgame ahead 2-0 as his team was able to score a run in each the 3rd and the 4th innings. The run in the third was an unearned blotch on Darvish's record as shortstop Makoto Kaneko booted a ball he should have had, allowing a runner to score. The fourth inning saw long time slugger and follicley-challenged Kazuhiro Wada hit a home run to left center field. If not for a bottom of the 9th rally by the Fighters, Darvish would have taken the hard luck loss. Thankfully for the 20-year old ace, the Nippon Ham boys sent 7 men to the plate against Seibu closer Chikara "Power" Onodera, stringing together a number of hits to tie the game at 2.

Darvish was through for the day, having gone the full 9 innings allowing 7 hits and 3 walks against 14 strikeouts. The score remained tied 2-2, concluding in a draw after the regulation 12 innings. Once again Darvish had led his team to a dead end finish. I don't care for the tie in baseball, but it doesn't matter what I think. Two games, two ties. Will Darvish go for three as he takes on the SoftBank Hawks on April 7th? You'll have to wait and see....

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