September 19th, 2011
Tokyo Swallows 3
Streak: Won 1 Last 5: WWTLW
Tokyo are the first team in the Central League to 60 wins.
|W: Akagawa (4-1) L: Fukuyama (0-1) S: Lim (27)|
|1||Watanabe (2B)||1||Aoki (CF)|
|2||Aranami (CF)||2||Tanaka (2B)|
|3||Ishikawa (SS)||3||Kawabata (SS)|
|4||Murata (3B)||4||Hatakeyama (1B)|
|5||Tsutsugo (1B)||5||Takeuchi (LF)|
|6||Shimozono (LF)||6||Miyamoto (3B)|
|7||Yoshimura (RF)||7||Balentien (RF)|
|8||Kurobane (SC)||8||Aikawa (C)|
|9||Kuniyoshi (P)||9||Akagawa (P)|
After a bit of a wobble last night, the birds looked to take advantage of Yokohama’s 6′ 5″ (195 cm) second year right-hander, Kuniyoshi, who has yet to claim his first NPB win.
Yokohama struck first. In the second inning, Murata singled off of Tokyo starter, Akagawa, to get things started. Yokohama’s third baseman then showed some impressive wheels as he scored on Tsutsugo’s double into the gap in left-center. 1-0 Yokohama.
Despite getting two runners on base in both the first and second innings, Tokyo wasn’t able to capitalize. But Aoki drew the game level in the bottom of the third when he clubbed an elevated heater high off the foul pole in right. 1-1.
It was Aoki’s third homer of the year and his second hard hit to right field of the game.
Akagawa was perfect in the third and fourth, but he caused some concern in the fifth and sixth innings. After recording the first two outs in the sixth, he gave up a double and then walked the next two batters to juice the bases. He finally got out of the inning when Nakamura (the guy who used to play for the Kintetsu Buffaloes, LA Dodgers, Orix Buffaloes, Chunichi Dragons and Tohoku Eagles) grounded out (6-4).
But Tokyo’s resilient starter would end up getting the win with a little help from Yokohama and it’s oversized-59-50-wearing baby-faced rookie reliever, Fukuyama. Hatakeyama led off with a single to center and was then bunted over to second by Takeuchi. Miyamoto managed to get Hatakeyama over to third with a tricky 4-3 groundout which brought Balentien to the plate.
At one point during the at-bat, Fukuyama leaned forward to read the catcher’s sign, stood up slightly, then went back to his forward learning position. His body language and facial expression made it seem like he had missed something. Fortunately for the Swallows, the umpire decided that Fukuyama had stopped and then restarted his pitching motion without properly disengaging his foot from the pitching rubber which constitutes a balk. So Hatakeyama was awarded a base. 2-1 Tokyo.
Yokohama threatened to score in the top of the seventh with Oshimoto on the mound for Tokyo. Watanabe’s leadoff single to left would have been a double if Hatakeyama had been in the area, but Takeuchi fielded, pivoted and threw the ball so quickly that the fleet-footed Watanabe was nailed sliding head-first into second base. Oshimoto allowed two more base-runners after that, but the inning ended with Tsutsugo’s grounder to third.
Tsutsugo. That’s a fun name to say.
Aikawa added an insurance run in the seventh when he hit his first homer of the season into the reserved seats in left. 3-1 Final.
After Matsuoka threw a perfect eighth to defend the two-run lead (three batters, nine pitches), Lim came on to try and secure his 27th save of the season. He looked very sharp through the first two batters but then lost the ceiling on his control and started leaving a lot of pitches up. An Aranami triple later (the outfield was drawn in a bit too far) and Lim was facing the tying run in the form of Ishikawa who had struck out three times against Arakawa but singled against Oshimoto.
Lim hit his spots spots only three times during that at-bat, but it was all that he needed as Ishikawa went down looking and the Swallows celebrated their 13th win of September.
Tokyo will travel a few stations down the Chuo Sobu train line for tomorrow night’s game against Yomiuri. It is their last regular season game against their rivals in 2011.
Weather-permitting, the Swallows will be back at Jingu again on Wednesday for a game against Hiroshima.
- The Tokyo Swallows have amassed 13 wins against two losses and one tie during the month of September.
- Akagawa and Aoki took the podium for the post-game hero’s interview.
- Akagawa, despite his occasional control issues, has been a very nice surprise for the Swallows during the second half of this season. He is now 4-1 with a 1.96 ERA.
- Aoki leads the team with a .331 batting average this month. Kawabata had been leading the team in September up until this game. He’s now in second behind Aoki after a one-for-four evening at the plate.
- Aoki had to climb the fence in right to retrieve one of his signature red towels that he had attempted to throw into the crowd after the game. The towel unraveled mid-flight and got lodged in the netting above the blue padded wall. Tokyo’s center-fielder avoided a freak injury with a clean dismount despite Tsubakuro’s best attempts to get in the way.