October 8th, 2011
Tokyo Swallows 4
Streak: Lost 1 Last 5: LLLWL
(Meiji Jingu Stadium)
|W: Aoki (2-4/3.40) L: Matsuoka (2-2/2.79) S: Imamura (1S/4.75)|
On a night which saw Chunichi shut down and beaten by Yomiuri, a win for Tokyo would have sent them back to the top of the CL. But a battling come-from-behind performance was undone by another dose of misfiring bullpen.
|1||CF Aoki||1||2B Higashide|
|2||2B Tanaka||2||CF Akamatsu|
|3||SS Kawabata||3||3B Barden|
|4||1B Hatakeyama||4||1B Kurihara|
|5||LF Yuichi||5||RF Hirose|
|6||RF Balentien||6||LF Matsuyama|
|7||3B Morioka||7||C Shirahama|
|8||C Aikawa||8||SS Kimura|
Muranaka started for the Swallows but wouldn’t last four innings as he let the team in the midst of an eight game losing streak fashion an early lead.
In the 1st a two-out walk for Barden and a Kurihara home run made it 2-0 Hiroshima. And in the 4th, three hits combined with a walk put the Carp 3-0 ahead. Matsui came in in relief of Muranaka and got the final out of the inning.
After Ohtake held the ice-cold Tokyo bats to a solitary hit over the first three frames, Tokyo got on the board in the bottom of the 4th, as two hits and a Hatakeyama groundout to first was good enough for a 3-1 scoreline.
And the Swallows tied things up in the 6th. A solo homer from Aoki (no.4 for the year) made it 3-2 before Tanaka got on base via an infield hit. After Hatake drew a walk one out later, and Yuichi flew out for out number two, Balentien hit a broken bat bloop single to centre to put things level at 3-3.
But all that hard work was undone in the 8th. With Matsuoka on the mound, a single for Kurihara and a two run shot to right for Matsuyama put the Carp back ahead at 5-3.
The Swallows did have a bit of fight left in them yet though, however their efforts were undermined by some hair-brained management in the bottom of the inning.
Tanaka was plunked to lead off the inning before Kawabata walked to put two Tokyo men on. Up stepped no.4 batter Hatakeyama, the CL’s current no.2 harvester of RBIs, and he was instructed to……..sacrifice bunt. Now if it was Miyamoto or someone of that ilk up next I could possibly understand that move. But it was the utterly ineffectual Yuichi up next (a man who should never have been in the starting lineup to start with, injury crisis or not), and he grounded out to second, Tanaka scored from third to make it 5-4. But that would be as close as they would get, with Balentien striking out to end the inning.
And so to the top of the 9th, and Hidaka put two outs on the board before giving up a single and a walk. On came Ichiba to take Hidaka’s place, and the pitcher, who hasn’t been seen much at all since his move from Rakuten in 2009 for good reason, gave up back-to-back run scoring singles to put the Carp out of reach for a 7-4 Hiroshima Final.
And that was that. Positives: at least Chunichi lost so their lead remains at 0.5 games. However, this Chunichi team is not losing a hell of a lot these days, and thus the Swallows capitulation, again late in a game, cannot be seen as anything other than an opportunity wasted.
The two teams will return for the final game of the series tomorrow evening, before Tokyo travel to Nagoya for the do-or-die four game series with Chunichi from Monday.