Hawks Rip Samsung Lions

It was a good showing for both team’s fans, but the Hawks fans had covered the entire third base and left field lower section while the Lions fans could only occupy the first base side.  The right field lower section was pretty empty.  A good turnout for a game that did not involve any Taiwan teams, but a bad ballgame from a competetive standpoint as the Hawks ripped the Lions 9-0.  Poor fielding was again the key as back to back errors by the Lions allowed three unearned runs to score in the 5-run second inning that buried the Samsung nine too deep.

Hiroki Yamada dodged a bullet in the first inning when the Lions loaded the bases with just one out.  He struck out Bong-Kyu Kang and then got Tae-In Chae to fly out to right field to end the threat.  After that inning, the Lions could not advance a runner to third base against Yamada as he limited the Lions to just two more hits.

The Hawks exploded in the top of the second inning to virtually seal this game early.  A walk to Kenji Akashi by starter Woo-Son Lee got the inning started.  Akashi stole second, the first of five steals (possibly six, I ruled a defensive indifference on one stolen base) the Hawks had against the Lion’s catchers.  They ran at will and could have had more if the game had not turned so lopsided.  Shuhei Fukuda pulled a double down the right field line to score Akashi with the game’s first run.  After a ground out advanced Fukuda to third, the Hawks catcher Toru Hosokawa squared to bunt, then pulled the bat back and drilled one into the left centerfield gap, past the shallow Lions outfielders for a double, scoring Fukuda.

Munehori Kawasaki struck out for the second out.  Yuichi Honda beat out a slow chopper to shortstop for an infield single to extend the inning.  Seiichi Uchikawa then was grazed by a pitch and was awarded first.  It appeared that Honda had easily stolen second base, but after the safe call Uchikawa was awarded first base.  Nobuhiro Matsuda then bounced a grounder in front of the mound and reliever Dong-Kul Lee’s throw was way wide of first base, allowing the third run to score.  Yuya Hasegawa then hit a hard liner to shortstop, but it glanced off the top of his glove and kareemed into centerfield to bring in two more runs.  Yuya Hasegawa could have had the fifth steal, but myworld judged it a defensive indifference since no one appeared to cover the bag so the catcher had no place to throw it.  Kenji Akashi, who had started the inning with a walk, ended the inning with a comebacker to the mound.

The Hawks scored two more in the fifth.  Yuya Hasegawa was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning by Dong-Kul Lee, who working his fourth inning.  The Lions had replaced their starting catcher Kab-Young Jin with Jung-Sik Lee, but it didn’t prevent the Hawks from stealing.  Hasagawa easily stole second base then advanced to third on a Kenji Akashi single.  Akashi broke for second, the catcher threw to second and Hasegawa broke for home, easily beating the throw to effectively pull off a double steal.  Kenta Imamiya drove in Akashi with a single.

Another run was tallied in the sixth on a Munehori Kawasaki single that should have been caught.  It was a tough in between hop that bounced over the first baseman’s glove.  A stolen base, advance to third on a ground out and then a fly ball by Seiichi Uchikawa scored Kawasaki.  Even though the fly ball was very shallow, the throw was so low that it had to be cut off and there was no chance to get Kawasaki once the ball was cutoff.  Uchikawa drove in the final run with a RBI single in the eighth inning to complete the scoring.

The Lions had an opportunity to score in the seventh, despite being down 8-0.  An error by the shortstop allowed runners to move to first and third with one out.  Young-Seop Bae hit a comebacker to the mound.  Jung-Sik Lee broke for home and was caught in a 1-2-5 rundown.  Myung-Chul Shin ended the scoring opportunities with a fly ball to center.

The Hawks brought in Masahiko Morifuku to retire the side in the eighth inning, then brought on Teruaki Yoshikawa to pitch the ninth.  The Lions put runners on first and third with two out, but Young-Seop Bae struck out to end the game.

Game Notes: The Hawks stole at will against the Lions catchers.  The throws from the catchers were slow and loopy.  There were a few huge jumps that did not allow the catcher to get a throw off, but when they threw it was not crisp at all.  The Hawks seemed to have found a Lions weakspot with the steal…The Japanese Hawk fans show great reverence for their players.  They would rush down the third base line during a break in action to take a photo of whatever player was available.  There did not seem to be a lot of requests for autographs, but a lot of picture taking.  The Hawks players showed a lot of class at the end of the game.  They all came out of the dugout and bowed to the fans that were crowded along the third base line…There was a Hawks cheering section just behind the third base dugout, the chants, bugle and drum were being shared by a man and a woman.  I’ll give the woman a lot of credit for her projection in leading most of the cheer.  There was no announcement against ”objects that make loud noises” at this game…They stand for the national anthem of both countries, but Yamada continued to warm up in the bullpen during both anthems.  Some people wear their hats, some take them off…Shortstop Munehori Kawasaki made a nice diving stop of a grounder in the hole to prevent a Samsung rally in the third inning…Lions third baseman Sok-Min Park continues to impress me with his defense.  He made another diving stop of a ball in the hole in the third inning that prevented a run from scoring.  I also liked Hawk third baseman Nobuhiro Matsuda, but more for his offensive play…Kenta Imamiya was the offensive star with three hits.  He is short for a first baseman, but since he played only 18 games last year with a .000 batting average he is obviously not the Hawks starter…The Hawks offense was assisted by four walks, two hitbatsman, two errors and five (or six counting the defensive indifference) stolen bases…With the win, the Hawks have clinched first place in the pool for the Asia series.  They will play the winner of the Samsung Lions and Uni-President Lions game, played in Taipei for the championship…The Hawks do not appear to be slowing down despite this Asian Series.  They appear to be close to a contract with Wily Mo Pena…They do have box scores for these games. They can be seen at http://www.cpbl.com.tw/GResult/Result.aspx?gameno=09&pbyear=2011&game=3. The characters are in Mandarin so it is difficult to read.

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