April 10th, 2012
Tokyo Swallows 2
Streak: Won 3 Last 5: LLWWW
(Meiji Jingu Stadium)
|W: Oshimoto (3-0/0.00) L: Yamaguchi (0-1/13.50)|
After leaving Nagoya with a magnificent hard-fought series win against the Dragons, the Swallows returned to Jingu to take on the perennially struggling Baystars. And while they huffed and puffed, they eventually blew the YOKOHAMA DeNA MOBAGE WHATEVERTHEFOOKTHEY’RECALLEDTHISYEAR BAYSTARS house down in ten innings.
1 Morimoto (CF) 1 Hiyane (CF)
2 Ishikawa (2B) 2 Tanaka (2B)
3 Kinjo (RF) 3 Milledge (RF)
4 Ramirez (LF) 4 Hatakeyama (1B)
5 Koike (1B) 5 Kawabata (SS)
6 Fujita (3B) 6 Miyamoto (3B)
7 Kajitani (SS) 7 Balentien (RF)
8 Tsuruoka (C) 8 Aikawa (C)
9 Kuniyoshi (P) 9 Tateyama (P)
Tateyama started for Tokyo, looking to register his first win of the new season. Alas he wasn’t at his sharpest as he struggled with his control at times, and he let at least one man on base in each of the eight innings he pitched.
Meanwhile, the Swallows struggled to get to grips with the Baystars’ starter Kuniyoshi. And it took them until the 4th inning to register a hit against the 20 year old, as Lastings Milledge got on base via a bloop infield single that took the Yokohama infield by surprise.
But from that point on they started to threaten a little more. In the 5th a single for Kawabata and a walk apiece for Balentien and Aikawa loaded the bases with one out on the board. Tateyama could only strike out swinging while Hiyane hit one back to the pitcher to strand all three men.
And so to alleviate the strain on the struggling Tokyo bats, Milledge took matters into his own hands in the bottom of the 6th, as he smacked his second NPB home run in to the leftfield stands to make it 1-0 Tokyo.
But Tateyama couldn’t quite hold onto the lead, as he allowed a run off two hits in the top of the 7th (Morimoto with the RBI) to even-steven things back up at 1-1. And Shohei would work one more scoreless inning as he ended his evening’s work with the scores still tied. He wouldn’t feature in the final decision after his 8I/116P/7H/6K/5BB/1ER outing, and his quest for a win continues as his record remains at 0-0 with his ERA now at 2.08.
After Barnette worked a 1-2-3 top of the 9th to preserve both the tie and his 0.00 ERA, Tokyo finally looked like breaking that tie in the bottom of the 9th. With reliever Kikuchi on the mound, Hatakeyama got things rolling with a single to centre. He was replaced with the substantially more nimble feet of Ueda at first, and those feet were put to use as Kawabata bunted him to second for the first out of the inning. Miyamoto then continued to struggle at the plate he grounded out to third with Ueda remaining at second. Balentien got a free pass to first which brought up Aikawa, who was 1 for 2 with a walk to that point. He hit one up the middle, which was just about fielded by the diving second baystarsbaseman, who flipped the ball to second just in time to get the force-out of Balentien to end the inning and send the game into extra(s).
Oshimoto also maintained his goose-egg ERA in the top of the 10th before Tokyo had three outs to avoid the tie (due to the 3.5 hour rule). With Yokohama’s closer Yamaguchi on the mound, a pinch hitting Takeuchi made a good start toward that target with a grounder to first that neither infielders nor pitcher could come up with to get on board. He was replaced by Yamada at first and then up stepped Hiyane to try to lay down the sacbunt. And it looked bleak as he fouled off two bunt attempts, but he came good with try number three to move Yamada to second.
And so the stage was set for Tanaka, with the lively looking Milledge waiting on deck if needed. But he wasn’t, as Hiroyasu hit one deep to right, out of the reach of any Yokohama arms and Yamada was home to cue the on-field Sayonara celebrations. 2-1 Tokyo Final.
- 11576 souls were present to witness Tokyo extending their win streak to three.
- Though Tanaka took to the mic for the post-game hero interview, Lastings Milledge was the undoubted stand-out of the evening. Aside from his 2 for 4 night with the bat, he also showed another side to his game, namely his cannon of an arm. In the 5th inning, with one out on the board and Morimoto at first, Shimozono hit a shallow fly ball to left, which was taken on the run by Lastings, who then fired the ball back to first to pick off the scampering runner to end the inning. And in with two outs in the 10th, Aranami hit one up the foul line to left, which was fielded by Milledge in foul territory who again unleashed a pinpoint throw which threw out the runner at second, and effectively ended any chance of a Yokohama win.
- Tokyo’s quest to replace Aoki continues. With Hiyane given his second straight start in centre, he had a rather torrid night, going 0 for 3 with a walk, and with only that final 10th inning sac bunt saving the day for the chipmunk-faced rookie. He also was charged with an error in the field in the 3rd, as a fumble allowed Shimozono to stretch a single into two bases. He was also thrown out attempting to steal second in the 4th after getting on base via that walk. Possibly time to give Ueda another shot.
- Miyamoto was the only other member of the starting lineup to go hitless, aside from Tateyama of course. He still has 17 hit to go to reach the magical world of 2000.
- The two teams will return tomorrow for game two of the series. Rain is forecast for the afternoon and evening, so Ishikawa will likely take the mound in a damp Jingu for the Swallows, while Yokohama will counter with Yamamoto.