April 13th, 2011
Tokyo Yakult Swallows 0
Yomiuri Giants 3
Streak: Lost 2 Last 5: LL
Tokyo failed to heat up any more than the breeze blowing through Kits-Kyushu as they dropped another game to their cross-town rivals, matching them for hits, but bringing no one home in a fairly quick, but uneventful contest.
For the Giabbits:
In the first three innings, Yoshinori gave up two hits (to Wakiya in the 1st and Sakamoto in the 3rd) and a Tanaka fielding error let Chono on in a 2nd inning in which all three outs were Ks, but no runs scored. On offense, in the 2nd, a Balentien walk was followed by a Miyamoto single, but nothing came of it. Balentien also singled in the top of the 3rd.
The bottom of the 4th was the hinge tonight. Ramirez was first to the plate. On a 2-1 count, Yoshinori served up a slider on the low outside corner of the plate, which Ramirez deposited in the left field bleachers. Facing Takahashi next, Yoshinori put one in the dirt on either side of the plate before tossing a cutter down the middle, which Takahashi sent to join its cousin among hoi polloi in left. 2-0 Yomiuri.
In the top of the 5th, with two outs, an Aoki single was followed by a Tanaka single, which was followed by Hamanaka grounding out. So much for evening the score quickly.
Yoshinori looked to be recovering (the lad’s mind is getting tougher) and got Utsumi to pop out and Sakamoto to ground out on the first pitch before striking Wakiya out. But Aikawa dropped the third strike and – M%@#*rf@#%ker! – Wakiya reached first. (N.B. Despite the profanity one would likely hear around any self-respecting denizen of the bleachers, the actual Japanese term for an uncaught third strike is “furinige” and not “M%@#*rf@#%ker!” or any of its varied Japanese counterparts. It took me years to learn that one.) 3-0 Yomiuri.
Ogasawara, of course, doubled, driving Wakiya in, before Yoshinori struck out Ramirez with a lower version of the slider on the outside corner Rami-chan had feasted upon earlier. Cheeky.
The 6th and 7th passed quickly and without gain for our guys in the offensive department. In the bottom of the 6th, Yoshinori put great fear into the hearts and minds of Tokyoites (Giants fans are an alien infection) when he gave up his first walk of the game to Takahashi, then a deep double to Chono, which put runners on second and third. Ryal grounded out, but Kato launched a fly ball well into right field. Balentien caught it for out number two, but Takahashi was well on his way home. Just as a synonym for furinige formed on my lips, Wladimir Balentien summoned the power of the hurricanes of his Curaçao youth in his mighty right arm and launched a beautiful throw home, which, glory be, Aikawa caught neatly to tag a stunned Takahashi on the back. Three outs. Yoshinori’s smile looked gleeful. Balentien looks like he can put away a fair few thank-you drinks. Good think Yoshinori’s pulling down roughly 52 million yen this year.
Yoshinori sat down having thrown six innings (100 pitches) with a hefty 10K against 6H, 1BB, 3R. He took the loss. Utsumi got the win for Yomiuri.
Barnette pitched the 7th, giving up a walk and hit while notching one strikeout. Oshimoto came in in the 8th and did the same. Yamaguchi closed out the game for the Giants.
I’ve given away the surprise, but there was a moment of hope when an Aoki single, followed by a Tanaka single, was, two outs later, followed by a Kawamoto walk (he came in for Aikawa), loading the bases. Balentien stepped up to the plate to nail a grand slam and put us ahead. Alas. . .
The Swallows join the Carp at 0-2, but it’s early days yet.