04/04/12 Hanshin (Home)

April 4th, 2012

Hanshin Tigers 5 

Tokyo Swallows 5 

Streak: Tied 1   Last 5: WWLD-

(Meiji Jingu Stadium)

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Hanshin0001100305120
Tokyo104000000570

 Hanshin Tokyo
1Hirano (2B)1Tanaka (2B)
2Shibata (CF)2Ueda (CF)
3Toritani (SS)3Milledge (RF)
4Arai (3B)4Hatakeyama (1B)
5Brazell (1B)5Kawabata (SS)
6Murton (RF)6Miyamoto (3B)
7Kanemoto (LF)7Balentien (RF)
8Fujii (C)8Aikawa (C)
9Messenger (P)9Tateyama (P)

Some ties you’re happy to get, some are a letdown; the box score lets you know which one the Birds’ delayed home opener was.

Shinya Miyamoto, the koshu of Jingu.

Tateyama took the mound for Tokyo and got off to a pleasing start: three batters, one strike out, and a mere nine pitches. The offense quickly added to the fun when Ueda was walked, moved to third by a Milledge single, then brought in by a Hatakeyama grounder. 1-0 Tokyo.

Improving on his hot first inning, Tateyama notched another K, throwing only seven pitches to the next three batters in Hanshin’s order.

Miyamoto, then pounded hit number seven into left, putting him only eighteen away from the Meikyukai’s 2000 benchmark with 140 games to go. Unfortunately, this was followed by Balentien grounding into a double play (and giving up not evenhalfway down the basepath, which won’t win him any new fans out in the bleachers) and Aikawa grounding out.

Tateyama then gave up a hit to Fujii, but made up for it by striking out the bunt-attempting Messenger, then Hirano.

The Swallows’ bats then gave their hard-working moundsman some serious support. Tateyama walked, Tanaka singled, then Ueda popped out after briefly sparking your narrator’s overly sensitive consternation trigger by setting up to bunt. Milledge then struck out before Messenger started to come apart, walking Hatake to load the bases, then Kawabata to add another run to the home team’s column.

Miyamoto then sent hit number eight into right field for an RBI before Balentien drove in two more, making hoi polloi like him again. 5-0 Tokyo. 

Another ground out and another K for Tateyama, then Arai drilled a hole in the board just behind the center field fence. 5-1 Tokyo.

To no one’s surprise, Hanshin yanked Messenger and put Tsuru on the mound in the bottom of the fourth and he did his job well: 2 Ks against three batters.

Tokyo’s ace then started to show some wear: Murton, Fujii, and Hirano all hit, adding one more run to the visitors’ side: 5-2 Tokyo.

Watanabe then needed only eleven pitches to retire the home side 1-2-3. Oshimoto took the mound for Tokyo and had 1K vs. 1H.

In the sixth, Kawabata hit safely, but three of his teammates couldn’t get Watanabe’s stuff to leave the infield.

It may be this guy’s bad memory or failing eyesight, but Matsuoka looks a bit chubbier this year. He certainly threw chubbier: a lucky K when Kanemoto swung at a bouncing pitch, which, in fairness, might have counted as a strike back when Kanemoto was a rookie and the oldest of the Tsubamegun‘s authors were just beginning to shave. Matsuoka then beaned Fujii, walked Sekimoto, who was attempting the hit and run, and loaded the bases with a single to Hirano.

While fielding the ball and making a not-quite-handsome throw from right, Balentien appeared to injure either his wrist or his pride. Either way, he was yanked in favor of Iihara.

Not Matsuoka’s day. Would Masubuchi save the day?

Yes! (You didn’t expect that, did you?) Pop out, then a K to stave off disaster.

In the bottom of the 7th, Tanaka showed again what we here have long said: having him continually bunt Aoki over to second was a stupid decision; the man can hit. Sadly, no one else did.

Masubuchi then uncorked the swearing of a crowd already looking to go home, some of whom did after he gave up a single to Arai and a centerfield homer to Brazell, then single to Murton and Kanemoto.

Kanemoto took his Zimmer frame off the field to be replaced by the fleeter-footed Yamato, as Masubuchi was replaced by Hidaka.

After Hidaka got the first out of the inning, Shunsuke managed to bunt Murton in for another run.

You know what, Shunsuke? You’re only allowed to go by one name after you’re famous, you cocky little snot.

Hidaka’s strike out of Hirano finally ended things. 5-5.

The Swallows tried to manufacture a run against Enokida, putting Hiyane on the basepath after Hatake walked. Miyamoto also walked (Is this guy getting hotter in his 40s?), but Ks of Takeuchi of Aikawa ended the inning.

Barnette came in to close. He gave up a hit to Asai, got Toritani to ground out, then struck Arai in an epic ten-pitch battle. It took him five pitches to sit Brazell down and give the Birds a chance to slap Fujikawa around for the win.

Didn’t happen.

Ishikawa faces Ando as the Swallows host the grubs from Hyogo again tomorrow night.

  • FLR

    What are the rules for time limit or extra innings in 2012? Last year it was 3.5 hours. (Would this game have been called after 8 last season?) I think the 9th inning yesterday started after 3 hours and 35 minutes. Most English language references only mention a 12 inning limit.

    • Kozo

      The rules implemented last year have returned this year. No new EXTRA innings will be started after 3.5 hours. But all games will go to 9 innings, but no more than 12.

  • MooreyTokyo

    Bit of a topsy-turvy game that one.  Maybe it was the fact I was so cold by 10 p.m. or maybe it was the fact that I felt pretty sure that they would score a 6th run in the 8th (before we got away with it), but for whatever reason I didn’t leave the ground THAT disappointed with the tie.  It really could have been worse!

    Still, a positive start to the season and if Ishikawa can do the business again tonight we’ll be feeling pretty good about it all.  Come on the Birds!

  • FLR

    Thanks. That’s unfortunate; the tie game is my biggest gripe about Japanese baseball. On a positive note they have removed the old fence on the baseline sides and now have a net (?) that is easier on the eyes, so I didn’t feel the need to climb into the nosebleed level.