TOKOROZAWA, Saitama--Saitama Seibu Lions lefty Kazuhisa Ishii shed his Japan Series Superman suit on two plays in Tuesday's 6-4 Game 3 loss to the Yomiuri Giants.
Entering the game with a 4-0 postseason record in five games and a 1.17 ERA in 30-2/3 innings, Ishii only made a few mistakes but they cost him plenty.
The biggest was a grounder between first and second that first baseman Hiroshi Hirao fielded. Although the infielder slipped on Seibu Dome's plastic grass when he planted to throw, it wouldn't have mattered. The pitcher was unable to get to the bag because he didn't hustle.
Although the lefty pitched a good game for the most part, Ishii did what he had never done before in the postseason: fall apart with runners on. He made a terrible pitch to Takahiro Suzuki that the powerless speedster hit for his first home run outside Tokyo Dome.
"I'm completely in shock," Ishii said in a statement released by the team after he left the game.
Perhaps in amends for his failure to cover first, Ishii did some impromptu speed training after the game, blowing up the long staircase from the dugout to the Lions clubhouse and leaving a pack of reporters trailing in his wake.
Life's not fair: While Ishii blew a chance for his fourth Series victory, his loss was Yomiuri Giants southpaw Tetsuya Utsumi's gain. The 26-year-old won his Series debut despite allowing three runs in 5-1/3 innings.
As Utsumi relaxed on the sidelines prior to Wednesday's Game 4, veteran Chunichi Dragons southpaw Masahiro Yamamoto had a few words for the Giants youngster.
Yamamoto made his Series debut on the same field in Game 3 of the 1988 Series against the Lions. He allowed four runs, three unearned, on two hits and two walks in 5-2/3 innings to take the loss. The 43-year-old is 0-3 in four Series starts.
Standing near Utsumi, Yamamoto said: "Hey, what makes you so lucky?"
Ramen cures all ills: Game 3 featured a pair of blown calls that went the Giants' way, leaving Lions manager Hisanobu Watanabe fuming.
"I guess they are nervous to be umpiring in the Japan Series, but you expect more," Watanabe said.
"It's a bitter pill to swallow. There's nothing left to do at times like this but go and have some ramen."