April 26th, 2012
Tokyo Swallows 4
Streak: Won 1 Last 5: WWWDW
(Meiji Jingu Stadium)
|W: Muranaka (3-0) L: Yoshimi (3-2) S: Barnette (9)|
A little rain keeps Yoshimi from pitching at 100% and the Swallows manage enough pop and defense to cover for “sub-optimal” pitching by Muranaka.
|1||Oshima (CF)||1||Tanaka (2B)|
|2||Araki (2B)||2||Ueda (CF)|
|3||Hirata (RF)||3||Milledge (LF)|
|4||Wada (LF)||4||Balentien (RF)|
|5||Blanco (1B)||5||Miyamoto (3B)|
|6||Ibata (SS)||6||Morioka (SS)|
|7||Tanishige (C)||8||Hatakeyama (1B)|
|8||N. Donoue (3B)||8||Nakamura (C)|
|9||Yoshimi (P)||9||Muranaka (P)|
Things did not start well for Muranaka and the Swallows as the young southpaw allowed back-to-back hits to put men on the corners to start the game. Luckily the Dragons’ 5 year offensive slump continued and only 1 run came around on a Hirata ground out. 1-0 Dragons
But with Yoshimi on the mound 1 run might have been too much. Luckily it seemed that the early rain meant that Yoshimi’s strikes were imminently hittable in the early going. Ueda got things going by getting a single to left. He advanced to second on a grounder by Milledge and came home on a Balentien single to left. 1-1 All Miyamoto followed with career hit number 1993 with another single to left, but Morioka wasn’t able to get the lead.
While Muranaka was able to start the second with a K, the rest of the inning, and his night, was demonstration of loose control. Tanishige started things off with a single to center. Donoue the younger watched 5 pitches go by for a full count, and took pitch number 6 for a walk. Yoshimi came up to bat looking to give the Swallows a free out with a bunt, but he too watched 5 pitches go by for a full count, and took pitch number 6 for a walk. With the bases juiced, Oshima was able to ground out just deep enough to allow Tanishige to score and avoid the double play. 2-1 Dragons Araki wasn’t able to continue the push, and despite getting plenty of chances the Dragons ended their scoring for the night.
Luckily for the Swallows Yoshimi had one more bad inning in him. Tanaka opened the third inning with a hit. Ueda gave up a out to advance to the runner, Milledge made it moot by crushing a hanging breaking ball into the left field stands to give the Swallows the lead for the first time in the night. 3-2 Swallows Balentien followed with his second hit of the night, but the Swallows couldn’t stretch the lead.
Despite the low score, Muranaka’s inability to throw strikes slowed the game to a crawl. The southpaw managed to last 5 innings giving up 5 walks (!) and 5 hits, on 107 pitches. The Swallows finished the game with a reliever relay of Masubuchi, Hirai, Oshimoto, and Barnette. The relievers managed to hold the Dragons to just 3 hits and no walks over the last 4 innings.
Yoshimi kept pitching for the Dragons and while he gave up a few more hits, he looked more in control as the game progressed. In fact, Yoshimi entered the bottom of the eighth inning having thrown less pitches (103) than Muranaka. But Yoshimi wobbled again with 2 out in the bottom of the eighth. Morioka got a hit into the left field corner for a double. Hatake worked a full count into a single to left, which Wada misplayed, allowing the runner to score easily and Hatake to get to second. 4-2 Swallows
While not the prettiest win, a win’s a win, and the Swallows now hold sole possession of first place in the Central League. The Swallows will have Friday off and will start a 9 day, 9 game Golden Week stretch in Hiroshima.