April 25th, 2012
Tokyo Swallows 1
Streak: Tied 1 Last 5: WWWWD
(Meiji Jingu Stadium)
Ties are when everyone loses. Both teams lose, the fans lose, ecology loses. Maybe the beer girls win. Well, their managers win.
|1||Tanaka (2B)||1||Oshima (CF)|
|2||Ueda (CF)||2||Araki (2B)|
|3||Milledge (LF)||3||Hirata (RF)|
|4||Balentien (RF)||4||Wada (LF)|
|5||Miyamoto (3B)||5||Blanco (1B)|
|6||Morioka (SS)||6||Ibata (SS)|
|7||Hatakeyama (1B)||8||Tanishige (C)|
|8||Nakamura (C)||8||Donoue N. (3B)|
|9||Ishikawa (P)||9||Nakata (P)|
Tokyo looked a bit better, purely subjectively, but the numbers don’t show it. This game was almost as evenly matched as a tie could be. This particular corner of the Tsubamegun sees ties as being far closer to losses than to wins, so let us begin with a couple of highlights, to gin up the strength to report, shall we?
- Lastings Milledge is working out very well. Our good cheer at his signing has carried over unabated. He singled, doubled, drew an intentional walk, and happened to be at bat when Ueda scored from third on a wild pitch. He also hit almost equally to left, center, and right and played a mean left field, making an impressive sliding catch and showing good form on every ball hit to left. The guy also has an arm.
- Ueda is turning out to be solid. If he’d stop using Aoki’s (crappy) music, he’d be a quite suitable new center-fielder.
- Ishikawa had a reasonably good start, giving up six hits, no walks, and one run vs. five strike-outs in 115 pitches over seven innings.
- Barnette continues to get his work done efficiently and to settle into the role of closer. He gave up a hit, but threw only seven pitches against three batters to finish the ninth.
The game proceeded uneventfully early on, although it is worth pointing out the shades of Takadaism that popped up. To wit: Bottom of the second, the fleet-footed Morioka on second, Hatakeyama on first, Tokyo’s inexperienced, but not-too-shabby catcher, Nakamura, at the plate, to be followed by the pitcher, Ishikawa. Now, Ishikawa hits better than many pitchers, but what’s the smart play here? Surely, it is not to have the catcher bunt, get an out, only to bring up the pitcher. Best case (likely) scenario? The Chunichi defense makes the play at first instead of third and Morioka is on third with two out and Tanaka up. Worst case (likely) scenario? Hatake is on second, Nakamura is on first, and Tanaka is up with two outs.
Luckily, the best case occurred, but this was the double plus ungood sort of small ball – everything comes down to one man in a pressure situation, just like in big ball, only this time you’re not betting on a three-run homer.
The second-inning sac-bunt should be grounds for immediate dismissal.
Tanaka grounded out. Because the Swallows got an out on purpose in order to get to a likely out, the side was done.
The Birds’ run came in the third, and it was good fun. Ueda tripled to deep center. Nakata, being afraid to pitch to Milledge, threw one so low and away that Tanishige couldn’t get to it and Ueda scored. 1-0 Tokyo.
In the fourth, Milledge made a dramatic sliding catch for out two, then made a routine catch for the third out – the Dragons liked hitting to him.
In the top of the seventh, with two outs, Tanishige hit a solo home run to left to tie the game. 1-1.
In the bottom of the ninth, with one out, Hatake popped one up in the first base line foul territory, a sure catch for Tanishige. Not to be, though, Blanco also went for it and
broke up the catch. Tanishige saw it bounce out of his glove. (*Thanks to commenter Jo, and apologies to Blanco.) Hatake popped out on the next pitch.
With no time to start another inning, the bottom of the eleventh brought a bit of drama. After a Miyamoto ground-out, Iihara came in and drilled a liner to left. He was replaced by Noguchi on the basepaths. Hatake grounded out, and Nakamura came up to hit a line drive to center. With two outs, Noguvhi was left with little option but to press his luck and try for home, which he did. He didn’t make it.
Tie game. With this tie, the Swallows remain tied for first with the Dragons, which makes tomorrow good fun. Muranaka (2-0, 1.93/1.29 vs. Chunichi) will face the dreaded Yoshimi (3-1, 1.50/1-0, 0.00 vs. Tokyo).