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Fighters' Koyano finds home away from home

by Jim Allen (Nov 6, 2009)

Eichi Koyano loves to play at Tokyo Dome, and thanks to the Fighters Pacific League title, he got three more chances this year.

"As a hitter, who wouldn't love it [playing here]? The ball really flies out," Koyano told The Daily Yomiuri on Thursday, a day after driving in four runs here in the Fighters' 8-4 victory in Game 4 of the Japan Series.

"I hit three homers here in 10 games [in the regular season]. I hit 11 the whole year."

The problem Tokyo Dome causes is not that the ball flies, but that it seems too easy.

"You get started in batting practice, and they really go, so you start thinking about it and that can be a problem," Koyano said.

If it has been a problem in this week, it hasn't shown up. After going 16 -for-40 here in the regular season, with eight extra-base hits, he went 4-for-8 in Games 3 and 4 with a home run and a double.

But Koyano won't be sad to put the dome here in the rear-view mirror after Game 5.

"We're going home," he said. "That's the best thing."

Dynamo: Although the Giants fell in Game 4, diminutive center fielder Tetsuya Matsumoto continued to be a sparkplug for the Central League champs.

The first Giant to make the Central League roster after being originally signed to a developmental contract, Matsumoto went 3-for-5 on Wednesday to improve to 6-for-17 in the Series.

"It's really gratifying to be here," said Matsumoto, who batted .293 in the regular season.

"I don't know if I'm in peak form, but in a short championship series, so many things can happen that it's not really about your condition like it is during the season.

"Still, I've been playing well, and this is giving me a ton of confidence as I look toward next season."

Autograph hound: Before Game 5, Fighters right fielder Atsunori Inaba discovered he had a new fan.

While stretching on the field Giants pitcher Wirfin Obispo, off whom he homered in Game 3, approached him with a ball to sign.

"Nice play," Obispo said of Inaba's leap into the field seats on Wednesday to glove a foul fly.

"That made me really happy," Inaba said. "It's something that's never ever happened to me before."


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