May 9th, 2009
Hiroshima Toyo Carp 4
Tokyo Yakult Swallows 1
Streak: Lost 1 Last 5: LWWWL
A domintant seven innings featuring seven strikeouts from Carp ace Colby Lewis kept the Tokyo bats in check as Hiroshima won in Matsuyama.
Despite this being a “home” game for the Swallows, the location of Matsuyama in Ehime prefecture on the island of Shikoku meant that the stadium appeared more like a home game for the Carp as many of their fans had made the short(ish) trip to watch the game.
The Swallows starting lineup saw Takada tinker with the order once again. Hatakeyama was dumped to the bench following his hitless performance versus the Tigers last Thursday (despite three hits in his first start of the season the game before) in a lineup that saw Keizo Kawashima start at leadoff with normal leadoff man Fukuchi in the number two hole:
1. Kawashima Keizo (SS)
2. Fukuchi (LF)
3. Aoki (CF)
4. D’Antona (1B)
5. Guiel (RF)
6. Miyamoto (3B)
7. Aikawa (C)
8. Tanaka (2B)
9. Kawashima Ryo (P)
They would be facing Hiroshima ace Lewis, and in fact both pitchers dominated early on, with Kawashima Ryo keeping the Carp hitless over the first four innings.
And Ryo would get a lead to play with in the bottom of the 4th. Fukuchi hit one in the gap between short and third, the ball hitting the glove of the diving third baseman Seabol which allowed the speedy outfielder to stretch a single into a double as he barely beat the throw to second. Aoki and D’Antona then flew out for the first two outs of the inning as the runner remained at second. Up stepped Guiel and hit one the the wall in rightfield for a double that made it 1-0 Tokyo. It was Aaron’s team-leading 18th RBI of the year.
But a timely error would let the Carp back in the game in the top of the 5th. Kawashima walked McClain to start the inning and after Seabol grounded out veteran shortstop Ishii then singled to put men on the corners with one out. Ryo now faced Ishihara looking for a double play ball to end the inning with his lead intact. And he got that ball, a grounder directly to short, except for the fact that shortstop (the other Kawashima) Keizo inexplicably let the ball pass through his glove and the run scored to make it 1-1 with runners again on the corners with still only one out. Kawashima Keizo was charged with an error, and Kawashima Ryo never looked the same from that point on as he started to lose his control.
He walked the next man, Hiroshima pitcher Lewis, on five pitches to load the bases. Fortunately for him, the usually dangerous Higashide then hit a grounder straight to the pitcher for a double play and Ryo escaped the inning.
Keizo had a chance to rectify his mistake in the bottom of the 5th as he came to the plate with two outs and a man on second, but he struck out looking to end the inning.
And so to the top of the 6th, when the Carp would do the real damage. After a leadoff single was followed by a double to put men on second and third with no-outs manager Takada had seen enough and Ryo was replaced by Matsuoka from the bullpen. It mattered not though as next man up Kurihara singled to right to score two runs and make it 3-1 Hiroshima.
McClain then struck out for the first out of the inning, as did next man Seabol, except this time Kurihara made a dash to second base, but the throw from Aikawa was way off target, the ball escaped and Kurihara made it to third with two outs. And Aikawa was punished for the mistake as Ishii singled to right to make it 4-1 Hiroshima.
In the top of the 7th Lee Hye-Cheon replaced Matsuoka on the mound and threw a scoreless inning despite giving up a single and a walk as Carp manager Marty Brown decided to test Aikawa’s arm after his previous error. But the Tokyo catcher was up to the challenge as he thew two men out attempting to steal second and the lead remained at three runs.
After a 1,2,3 inning from Lewis in the bottom of the 7th, 24 year old Yuhei Takai came to the mound for his first appearance of 2009 in the top of the 8th. Known for his control issues and sometimes headless-chicken fielding (and not a small amount of speed on his fastball), Takai gave up a double to Kurihara with one out but McClain and Seabol both flew out to end the inning.
On to the bottom of the 8th. Lewis was replaced with setup man Yokoyama who came into the game boasting a sub-2 ERA in ten appearances so far this year. But with Lewis gone Yakult gave themselves a chance to get back in the game.
Tanaka singled to left to open the inning, his second hit of the game. Takeuchi then pinch-hit for the pitcher but his bat shattered on contact and the ball rolled to the pitcher who turned the double play and it was two outs. But they weren’t giving up yet as singles from Kawashima Keizo and Fukuchi put two men on for next man Aoki. But Aoki could only ground out to short, and the threat and effectively the game, was over.
Maruyama (coming in for Aoki) pitched a scoreless 9th, and it was over to Carp closer Nagakawa who gave up a single but shut things down for his tenth save of the year for 4-1 Hiroshima Final.
Ryo took the loss which took his record for the year to 2 and 2 with an ERA of 3.951.
Fukuchi (.292), Miyamoto (.279) and Tanaka (.219) all had two hit games, while Aoki (.240), D’Antona (.255) and Aikawa (.264) all had hitless evenings.
The two teams return to Matsuyama tomorrow from 2pm for the second and final game of the short series.