03/30/12 Yomiuri (Away)

March 30th, 2012

Tokyo Swallows 

Yomiuri Giants 

Streak: Won 1  Last 5: W—-

(MLB STADIUM JAPAN; aka TOKYO DOME)

Opening Night in Japan…and two outs away from a no-hitter

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W: Ishikawa L: Utsumi S: Barnette

After two of the AL West teams opened their season in Japan, Tokyo was anxious to see their two teams open the season. Loyal supporters of this site and the Swallows will recall that the last time these two teams faced each other, the Swallows ended up celebrating with a 3-1 win in the first stage of the Climax series. As it turned out, the Swallows picked up where they left off against the Giants.

Here were the starting lineups for both teams:

 Yomiuri Tokyo
1SS Sakamoto12B Tanaka
2LF Bowker2CF Ueda
3CF Chono3LF Milledge
4C Abe41B Hatakeyama
53B Murata5SS Kawabata
6RF Takahashi
63B Miyamoto
71B Ogasawara7RF Balentien
82B Terauchi
8C Aikawa
9P Utsumi9P Ishikawa

Tonight, things got off to a quick start for the Swallows but nothing showed up on the score board. Tanaka lead off the game with a single. He quickly moved to second when Ueda “safety”-bunted and was safe at first. Milledge would strike out before Hatakeyama grounded to second but reached base on a fielders choice that forced Ueda out at second. The inning would end with Kawabata grounding out to third. Although no runs were scored, it set the tone for the rest of the game.

The second inning saw both sides go down in order and the game tied 0-0.

However, that all changed in the third inning. Ishikawa helped himself out by leading off the inning with a single. Tanaka followed with a double down the left field line. Ueda then hit a duck snort to shallow left-center scoring both Ishikawa and Tanaka. 2-0 Tokyo

Up next was the new signing, Milledge. Unfortunately, all he could do was fly out to left. With the clean-up hitter, Hatakeyama up next, Ueda made a mental error by attempting to steal second and was easily thrown out by Abe. Of course, on the very next pitch, “Boo” hit a single to right-center. With two outs, Kawabata was up. He proceeded to hit another single to right, putting runners on the corners. Miyamoto, inching closer to that 2000 hit milestone, hit yet another single to right easily scoring “Boo” and advancing Kawabata to third. 3-0 Tokyo

Long night for the chosen one

Balentien was up next and he walked to load the bases. Unfortunately, the inning came to an end as Aikawa hit a grounder to Sakamoto who forced out Balentien at 2nd base.

Ishikawa was cruising through the first five innings with his only blemish being his throwing error on soft grounder by Sakamoto to open the home half of the first inning. The only other runner in the first five innings from the most hated team money can buy, was Ogasawara who reached base on a very questionable, full-count, ball four in the second inning. The announcers began to talk about a no-hitter but they must not be aware that there was a new rule introduced by fandom in America. You have to wait until the 7th inning to start talking about a no-hitter. Come on guys, catch up.

This is so much fun seeing these guys struggle.

The Swallows made some noise with their bats again in the fifth with two hits, but couldn’t score in the inning. As our own Nostradamus, Cristopher Pellegrini, predicted, the Swallows continued to knock around Utsumi in the sixth. But yet again, Tokyo was unable to put any runs up on the board. However, Hara had seen enough and that was the end of Utsumi’s night as he was replaced by Romero in the top of the 7th.

Although the pitcher changed for the home side, it had little impact on the Swallows offense in the 7th. Hatakeyama walked to start the inning. He was followed by Kawabata, who bunted “Boo” over to second. Miyamoto followed Kawabata by bunting as well. However, Ogasawara was unable to make a clean throw to Romero who was running to cover first and Miyamoto was safe. The official scoring was an error on the play. With runners on 1st and 3rd, Balentein was up next. He hit a hard grounder to third. Murata started the double-play attempt by throwing to second for the force-out. A bad relay throw to first ensured Balentein was safe and that Hatakeyama would score. 4-0 Tokyo

The inning would end with an Aikawa strikeout.

As per the previous 6 innings, the Giants could not get anything going against Ishikawa in the 7th and 8th inning. They went down in order both innings. Now it was getting serious and the announcers were really talking about a no-hitter.

As I watched the game on TV, the PR people were preparing flowers for Ishikawa and potentially his no-hit performance. I thought to myself, “Great. They just jinxed him. He’s lost the no-hitter. “Of course after he got the first batter out, he lost it when Sakamoto hit a shot off of Miyamoto’s glove. Every Swallow supporter was heard groaning. Ishikawa would give up another hit to Bowker.

After surrendering that second hit of the inning and the night, Ishikawa appeared to injure his left leg. Out came the training staff and he was immediately taken out of the game.  In came Barnette. The Giants faithful were finally able to cheer about something but that was very short-lived. Barnette struck out Chono and got Abe to ground out to short, to end the game. Final 4-0 Tokyo

Game notes:

  • Miyamoto had 3 hits this evening. He is now 22 away from 2000 for his career
  • Ishikawa pitched 8 innings of no-hit baseball
  • Barnette got the save
  • On the hill tomorrow are Sawamura for the giants and Muranaka for Tokyo
About Scott

Scott is an avid fan of the underdog. He spent his childhood cheering for the Chicago White Sox and hating all teams from New York. Once he moved to Tokyo, he quickly directed this same hatred toward the tenants of the Tokyo Dome. Thus began his support of the Swallows (and anyone playing against the indoor Tokyo team).
In his mind, there is not a better place to be than at Jingu stadium watching the Swallows from the bleachers, drinking a nice cold drink, and cheering along with the extremely knowledgeable Swallows fans.