May 16th, 2012
Tokyo Yakult Swallows 14
Streak: Won 1 Last 5: LWDLW
(Meiji Jingu Stadium)
The Birds started off the 2012 Interleague campaign, when we get five more teams to support, by hosting the reigning Hawks.
|W: Ishikawa (3-4); L: Yamada (4-3)|
One would have to go all the way back to 2008, and the dawn of the Tsubamegun site, to find a time when Tokyo even drew even with Fukuoka (2-2). Over the past three years, the Swallows have been bested by their more predatorial avian counterparts a combined 3-8-1. How did Fukuoka’s hemorrhage of talent in the off-season match up against a Tokyo squad looking stronger than it had in quite a while?
|1||Akashi (2B)||1||Tanaka (2B)|
|2||Imamiya (SS)||2||Morioka (SS)|
|3||Uchikawa (CF)||3||Milledge (LF)|
|4||Pena (LF)||4||Balentien (RF)|
|5||Matsuda (3B)||5||Hatakeyama (1B)|
|6||Kokubo (3B)||6||Miyamoto (3B)|
|7||Tamura (RF)||7||Yuhei (CF)|
|8||Yamazaki (C)||8||Aikawa (C)|
|9||Yamada (P)||9||Ishikawa (P)|
The scoring started early, with Akashi hitting the second pitch he saw and Imamiya sac-bunting him over to second on the first pitch he saw. After Uchikawa grounded out, Pena hit an RBI double and Matsuda followed that with an RBI pop out. 2-0 Fukuoka.
Tokyo struck back quickly, when Morioka drew a walk on five pitches and Milledge put the first pitch he saw, an outside slider, over the centerfield fence for a two-run round-tripper, his third of the season. 2-2.
The Swallows added to their lead in the second when Miyamoto walked, then got nabbed on his way to second after a Yuhei grounder back to the mound. Yuhei stole second and made it home on an Aikawa single. Ishikawa bunted Aikawa to second. Tanaka was then walked on four straight pitches, and Morioka drove Yuhei home. 4-2 Tokyo.
A bit more padding was added in the third. Balentien doubled, made it to third on a Hatakeyama ground-out, and scored on a Miyamoto single. 5-2 Tokyo.
An Uchikawa solo homer two outs into the top of the fifth narrowed the gap. 5-3 Tokyo.
But hits by Balentien, Miyamoto, and Yuhei in the bottom half of the inning set that right. 6-3 Tokyo.
Yoshikawa pitched the fourth and fifth for the visitors and was the most successful of their hurlers tonight.
Masubuchi took over for Ishikawa in the sixth and went 1-2-3 with a K. Kanazawa did the honors on the other side.
In the sixth, a Balentien walk, followed by a Hatake double added a run. After that, Miyamoto drove Hatake home for another one. 8-3 Tokyo.
Hidaka went 1-2-3 for the home team in the seventh. Hirai gave up one hit in he eighth. Abe finished the game 1-2-3. Nice pitching all around.
That was not the game, though. Oh no, young Tsubamegunin. The Birds tried to make up for years past tonight.
In the seventh, young Kayama took the mound for Fukuoka. He would throw 21 pitches to five batters, which takes about the same amount of time as it does to write his name in Japanese. In the course of that, he walked Tanaka with two outs, then gave up a hit to Morioka, Both runners advanced on a passed ball soon after.
Milledge hit one into center, driving in two runs, but getting nabbed on his way to second. 10-3 Tokyo.
Special offer, fans. You want more? You got it.
In the eighth, Kayama walked Balentien, who was replaced on the bases by Miwa (because the Swallows really needed a run – I won’t bitch about plays being decided sans regard for the game situation during a rout, though). Hatake was also walked. Miyamoto singled to right and was replaced by Araki. Bases loaded, no outs yet.
Imamiya fumbled a Yuhei grounder to make the Hawks’ night a little longer and allow Miwa to score, leaving the bases loaded. Aikawa singled, driving in two more runs and was replaced by Nakamura. Noguchi pinch hit and popped out, but moved Yuhei to third. Tanaka then hit a sac-fly to right for one more run and a score of 14-3 Tokyo, Final.
Akagawa (3-1, 2.00) takes on Otonari (3-2, 1.50) tomorrow evening.