JAPAN – One month after the horrific earthquake struck Japan, the Rakuten Eagles made their long awaited debut defeating last year’s Japan Series champion Lotte Marines 6-4.
Rakuten’s stadium, Kleenex Stadium, is located in Sendai, one of the areas hit the hardest by last months earthquake and they symbolize the spirit of the struggling nation.
Another earthquake hit northeastern Chiba early in the morning, but that didn’t keep fans away. Diehard fans stayed till the end of the game despite another 6.3 quake that hit during the game rocking the stadium. The quake caused a short delay in the 4th inning.
In the game action, Hisashi Iwakuma (1-0) picked up the victory going 8 1/3 innings allowing 4 runs (3 earned) on 7 hits, 2 walks, and striking out 4. Ryan Speier finished off the game for his first save of the year. Lotte starter Yoshihisa Naruse (0-1) gave up 4 runs on 6 hits in 7 innings while striking out 9 en route to taking the loss.
With the game tied at 1 in the 7th inning, Motohiro Shima hit a tie-breaking 3-run home run. Kazuya Fukuura tried to bring the Marines back with a 3-run shot of his own in the 9th inning.
Chunichi Dragons 4, Yokohama BayStars 5
Yuta Naito drove in the game winning run in the bottom of the 9th with a walk-off single as teh Yokohama BayStars edged the Chunichi Dragons 5-4 in the opener for both teams at Yokohama Stadium.
More scores and news to follow.