The postgame hero interview is an NPB tradition, where one or more players of the home team or a single player from the visiting team will answer a few sometimes extremely inane questions for the fans.
We can be heroes
The little question and answer session can be silly or routine and occasionally informative, but Thursday’s in Fukuoka may have been the best one I’ve ever witnessed. Here it is in Japanese. The bulk of it is translated below.
Seiichi Uchikawa was first up for hitting the two-out, two-run double that overturned Orix’s 1-0 lead in the fifth inning. He’s followed by starting pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada, and between them the interviewer could barely stop laughing. Last up is Yuki Yanagita, who returned the night before for the first time since April 7 due to a knee injury and homered.
“I didn’t hit the time before with someone on, so I wanted to do something. I think this is normal (to have an RBI opportunity) if one bats behind Yanagita, and I’m glad I could get a result. Considering the condition of Yanagita’s legs, a home run would have been better, since it would have allowed him to walk home, but he still scored from first. So I’m grateful to him for that.”
“Just before my plate appearance I was waiting to use the restroom, and it just so happened I was in line with Wada. I said, ‘Wada-san, I’m going to get a hit.’ And right after that I came up with a runner in scoring position, and my first thought was I shouldn’t have shot my mouth off. But I said it, so I kind of had to do something. And now I’m standing here along with Wada and Yanagita, and I am truly happy.”
“We did have that discussion in the restroom. I was thinking everyone was going to start hitting soon, and then when we were waiting, I was about to say that to him, and he told me he would.”
“(On the bench after his hit) I was going, ‘Woah!’ and we were pointing at each other. It made me think there are is a powerful god occupying our restroom.”
“I have to apologize for giving up that run in the first inning the way I did, but then Uchikawa came through, and then Yanagita hit for me. They gave me courage. There wasn’t anything I could do about the run after I gave it up, so I moved on. I thought that if I can shut them down after that we could come back. I believed in that as pitched.”
“I myself spent a year and a half on rehab when I couldn’t pitch, and when you can’t get into games, it is really frustrating. So to go to the mound and now and see him (Yanagita) on the field, that makes me so happy and is a great motivator for me.”
“Now as Yanagita does his hero interview there should be tears, so please enjoy it.”
“Yesterday was a one-sided loss so this result is something I was really hoping for. The home run was great, but it was Uchi’s two-run hit that really got me excited. I didn’t think anything (about my knee) and was just focused on scoring to bring us from behind.”
Interviewer: Did you hear the fans calling for you to hit a home run before your fourth plate appearance?
“Loud and clear.”
And that motivated you to go deep?
“I wanted to hit a home run every time I came up. I’m lucky I could hit one if it made the fans happy.
“It was hard (being away). I wanted to come back as soon as I could and play ball again.”
Interviewer: I think I have to apologize to Wada-san for not drawing any tears.
Hawks 5, Buffaloes 1
At Yafuoku Dome, SoftBank’s Tsuyoshi Wada (4-2) allowed a run after Orix captain Shuhei Fukuda led off the game with a triple, but allowed precious little after that through six innings.
Chang Yi (2-1) pitched out of a dangerous spot in the third by getting Seiichi Uchikawa to pop up but threw a 1-0 fastball down the pipe to him in the fifth that Uchikawa drove to center and hit the wall on a hop. Uchikawa scored on a Yurisbel Gracial double, and Yanagita hit his fifth home run in the seventh.
Rookie Hiroshi Kaino, lefty Livan Moinelo each threw a scoreless inning, and with Softbank leading by four, manager Kimiyasu Kudo brought in closer Yuito Mori to end it after not pitching the previous two days.
Game highlights are HERE.
Fighters 5, Lions 3
At MetLife Dome, Ryo Watanabe and Kotaro Kiyomiya each hit two-run home runs, Kiyomiya’s his second in two days, as Nippon Ham came from a run down to beat Seibu. A day after earning his right to file for free agency this winter, Shogo Akiyama opened the scoring with his 16th home run.
Side-arm right-hander Ryo Akiyoshi, who was traded to Nippon Ham after failing to produce last year, reached 20 saves for the first time in his career.
Game highlights are HERE.
Eagles 8, Marines 5, 10 innings
At Tokyo Dome, Eigoro Mogi and Jabari Blash each homered for the second-straight day, but Rakuten needed four more runs in the 10th inning, three on a Hiroaki Shimauchi home run to win it after Lotte tied it 4-4 in the second inning.
Lotte leadoff man Takashi Ogino, whose career was derailed at the start by a serious knee injury after he stole 25 bases in his first 46 career games, became the 77th player in NPB history with 200 career steals. His 27th steal of the season surpassed his previous career high of 26.
Game highlights are HERE.
Dragons 7, Giants 4
At Nagoya Dome, Dayan Viciedo’s third-inning, two-run homer made it 4-1 and Chunichi cruised past Yomiuri with the help of a four-run fourth, in which Taylor Jungmann (3-4) threw a wild pitch out for the ages.
Swallows 8, Carp 4, 7 innings, rain
At Mazda Stadium, Yakult rookie Munetaka Murakami became the second player under 20 to hit 30 home runs in Japan and increased his league-leading RBI total to 85 the highest total in NPB history for a teenager, in a win over Hiroshima that was saved by the rain after back-to-back games in which the Swallows blew leads.
Tigers 8, BayStars 0
At Kyocera Dome, Hanshin’s Atsushi Mochizuki (1-0) allowed three hits over six innings, and three relievers completed the three-hit shutout to wrap up a three-game sweep of DeNA. Kosuke Fukudome capped a three-run third inning with a two-run home run, his seventh.