April 22nd, 2012
Tokyo Swallows 3
Streak: Won 3 Last 5: WLWWW
Sweep! Sweep! Sweep! Sweep! Sweeeeeeeeeeeeep!
|W: Roman (1-3, 3.57 ERA) L: Fukuda (0-2, 1.35) S: Barnette (1-0, 7 S, 0.00)|
Roman finally got his first NPB ‘W’ in his fourth start of the year and second this week.
|1||Takahashi (RF)||1||Tanaka (2B)|
|2||Fujimura (2B)||2||Ueda (CF)|
|3||Sakamoto (SS)||3||Milledge (LF)|
|4||Abe (C)||4||Balentien (RF)|
|5||Chono (CF)||5||Kawabata (SS)|
|6||Murata (3B)||6||Miyamoto (3B)|
|7||Bowker (LF)||7||Hatakeyama (1B)|
|8||Ishii (1B)||8||Nakamura (C)|
|9||Miyaguni (P)||9||Roman (P)|
Despite the rain, this was another enjoyable game to watch for the Swallows fans in attendance. The published figure for tickets sold is 13,986, but there probably weren’t more than eight or nine thousand in the stands. It never rained hard, but the drizzle was pretty much constant. It made for a cakey mound towards the end of the game.
Roman looked good early on. He got through the first three innings on only 36 pitches and one hit.
And he got some run support in the bottom of the second. Balentien cranked an 0-1 slider into the seats in left-center to put the birds ahead.
Kawabata followed with a single to center, and Miyamoto added a walk, just his second of the season.
Hatakeyama then grounded out to third, but fortunately both runners moved over in the process.
Nakamura then chipped in with a sac fly to right that was just deep enough to let Kawabata slide in safely ahead of the tag.
Roman was able to establish his heater the first time through the Yomiuri lineup, and then he started to mix in more sliders the second time through. He ran into a little bit of a rough spot in the form of a Sakamoto-Abe one-two punch in the top of the fourth though. Sakamoto doubled with one out to help make Yomiuri look threatening for the first time since the first inning on Friday. And Abe got the better part of Roman’s 1-0 pitch for a homer that just barely skirted the fence in right.
Tokyo 2-2 Yomiuri
But the Swallows regrouped and put some offense together soon after. After stranding three runners in the fourth, Tokyo put it’s starter back in the lead in the fifth. Tanaka led things off with a grounder up the middle, and he moved over to second on Ueda’s Tak-bunt. Milledge then ripped a 1-1 cutter off the base of the fence in left to score Tanaka easily from second. Milledge was in safely for a stand-up double.
Yomiuri looked like they might answer in the top of the sixth. A leadoff walk and then a Nakamura throwing error on a bunt meant that Yomiuri had runners on second and third with no outs. Roman recorded his final out of the game on a fly ball to center, and then he was told to walk Abe which loaded the bases.
And that was the end of Roman’s night. Masubuchi took the mound in his stead.
Masubuchi fell behind against Chono, but he then got him to swing and miss at three consecutive sinkers near the outside corner of the plate. Two outs.
Tanaka then brought the Tokyo faithful to their feet when he robbed Murata of an RBI or two when he launched himself in the air and snared a rocket that was headed towards Ueda’s neck of the woods. Crisis averted.
That was Tanaka’s second inning-ending, he-saved-our-asses play of this series.
Tokyo put a couple of runners on in the seventh, but that was it as far as offense was concerned.
More importantly, after Masubuchi’s two outs in the sixth, Tokyo’s trio of Hidaka, Oshimoto, and Barnette were perfect through the final three frames.
Barnette buttoned things up in the ninth for his seventh save of the year and third this week.
Roman’s final line was 5.1 IP, 65 NP, 3 H (1 HR), 1 K, 2 BB, 2 R (both earned). He’s now 1-3 with a 3.57 ERA.
Masubuchi, Hidaka, and Oshimoto all earned holds for their combined 2.2 innings of perfect baseball. Masubuchi was able to lower his ERA to 4.32 today.
Barnette faced three batters and threw 14 pitches today. He worked his heater, cutter, and sinker to good effect against the middle of Yomiuri’s lineup and was able to induce three harmless pop-ups for his third save this week.
Only Ueda had a multi-hit game today, but Tanaka, Kawabata, and Miyamoto also reach base twice. Milledge and Nakamura deserve praise for coming through with runners in scoring position.
Tokyo has tomorrow off before hosting the first-place Chunichi Dragons Tuesday-Thursday. Tuesday’s games starts at 6PM. See you there.
The Tokyo 3-2 Yomiuri scoreline condemned the Giants to their fifth consecutive defeat.
Tokyo are still in second place, one game behind the Chunichi Dragons. After Hanshin’s pummeling of Yokohama this afternoon, the top three in the Central League remained the same.
Tokyo’s record is now 11-7-1.
Today’s game was over in just two hours and 31 minutes. I was home well before 10 PM which is rare.
All four of Tokyo’s top team imported players had a significant impact on today’s game. Balentien was responsible for Tokyo’s first run thanks to his fourth homer of the season. Milledge scored the game-winner with his RBI double. Roman got the win after 5.1 innings in nasty conditions, and Barnette sealed the deal in the ninth. Can’t remember the last time anything similar happened.
Balentien relinquished the lead league in average and OBP, but he’s now tied with Chunichi’s Hirata and Hanshin’s Brazell for the lead in homers (4).
Nakamura now leads the league in sac flies (2).
Miyamoto needs just nine more hits to join the Meikyukai.
Roman and Milledge both were awarded for today’s performances with their first NPB hero interviews.
Balentien made sure to keep things light by shoving a towel-full of shaving cream into Milledge’s face during the interview. To his credit, Milledge laughed it off and was very appreciative of his teammates and positive about the team’s chances when he was finally able to see and talk again.