Erasmo Ramirez pitched the Mariners through a scoreless sixth so we’re on to the seventh with Seattle trailing 3-0. Hanshin pitcher Minoru Iwata, who scattered six hits over five-plus innings, had this to say following his outing: “I knew they would hit high pitches, so I tried to keep it down,” he said. “It enabled me to make them hit grounders and foul off pitches to get me ahead of the count.”
So far, it’s been a great day for the Hanshin fans, seen cheering from the left field bleachers below.
9:45 p.m.: Hector Noesi has hit his stride a bit, notching two more strikeouts in the fifth inning to head to the sixth, still down 3-0. Noesi yielded a leadoff single, but then got a fielder’s choice groundout and the two K’s — giving him four in the last two innings. They’re showing part of the Larry Bernandez ad here on the giant scoreboard and the local fans don’t know quire what to make of it. Stone silence.
9:33 p.m.: Wow, that fifth inning sure began a lot better than it ended for the Mariners. One out singles by Miguel Olivo and Michael Saunders, then a Brendan Ryan blooper that dropped in to shallow left loaded the bases. But Chone Figgins went down swinging for a huge second out and then Dustin Ackley took a called third strike.
Hanshin still leads 3-0.
9:15 p.m.: Hector Noesi looked a little better in the fourth inning, getting two strikeouts around a flyout to center. He still trails 3-0 after four. The Mariners have just three hits today and two have been infield singles to third base.
8:44 p.m.: Rough second inning for Hector Noesi as he yielded a leadoff single, then a Craig Brazell double to left center to put two on with none out. Ex-Mariners catcher Keni Johjima, now a first baseman, grounded out to third base for the game’s first run before Yomoaki Kanemoto launched a Noesi pitch into the right field stands for a 3-0 lead for the hometown Hanshin side.
Noesi gave up and ensuing single and a balk, but got a break with a pickoff at second. He then walked another batter, hit the next one, then escaped on a popout.
As is customary in Japan, the entire left side of the stadium — packed with Hanshin fans — has been cheering and chanting throughout the home side’s at-bats. They do a lot of singing too. A bit like the King’s Court, but far more advanced. The left field bleachers have drum bangers who lead the chanting and singing and are co-ordinated like a dance troupe.
8:18 p.m.: They’ve introduced the starting lineups, played the anthems and now are getting ready for the first pitch of tonight’s game (this afternoon here) between the Mariners and the Hanshin Tigers. As usual, join in here and at my @gbakermariners Twitter feed.
Chone Figgins drew a leadoff walk and then, after Dustin Ackley popped out, Ichiro stepped up to polite — but hardly raucous — applause. He then ripped a single to left field to put runners at the corners, but Justin Smoak grounded into a double play.
3B Chone Figgins
2B Dustin Ackley
1B Justin Smoak
DH Jesus Montero
LF Mike Carp
C Miguel Olivo
CF Michael Saunders
SS Brendan Ryan
RHP Hector Noesi