5/31/12 – Hokkaido (Home)

May 31st, 2012

Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters 5

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 10

Streak: Won 1   Last 5: LLLLW

(Meiji Jingu Stadium)


After one of the worst stretches of baseball that I witnessed in Japan, the Swallows bats came alive this fine evening.

W: Roman (3-5); L: Saito (4-4); S: Barnette (12)

I suppose a special thanks goes out to Hokkaido’s manager, Kuriyama for his decision to let Saito take the mound against the Swallows tonight. The former Swallow must have decided 10 losses was enough and put “the blue handkerchief” sensation on the mound. Whatever the reason was, the birds jumped all over him early. For the most part, the lineups were the same for both squads from last night. Only on the Swallows side was there a bit of a change; Fukuchi batted second and Tanaka dropped to 8th.

 Hokkaido Tokyo
1Itoi (RF)1Milledge (CF)
2Koyano (3B)2Fukuchi (LF)
3Tanaka (2B)3Kawabata (SS)
4Nakata (LF)4Hatakeyama (1B)
5Inaba (1B)5Iihara (RF)
6Yo (CF)6Miyamoto (3B)
7Kaneko (SS)7Aikawa (C)
8Tsuruoka (C)8Tanaka (2B)
9Saito (P)9Roman (P)

Although it turned out to be a HR derby-type evening, the Birds got on the board first with some nice hitting. (Something I mentioned was necessary in my last report here ). Milledge started things off with a single. He moved to second on Fukuchi’s little bouncer back to “the handkerchief”. Kawabata hit a single to center and Milledge advanced to 3rd. Hatakeyama was up next. He doubled to right-center, easily scoring Milledge, while Kawabata had to stop at third. Iihara flew out to Inaba for the second out and Miyamoto grounded out to end the inning. 1 – 0 Tokyo 

At this point many fans breathed a sigh of relief. The Birds actually strung consecutive hits together AND they lead to runs being scored!!! It has been awhile! This set the tone for the rest of the game.

In the second, the pork products went down 1-2-3.

While the Birds on the other hand, picked up where they started in the 1st. Aikawa lead off the inning with a single. In a role that he thought he must have relinquished, Tanaka bunted the captain over to second. One out. Up strolled Mr. Roman. Not wanting to miss out on the party, Mr. Roman smacked a double to left, easily scoring Aikawa from second. Milledge would fly out and Fukuchi would strike out to end the inning. 2 – 0 Tokyo

The pork products would get one back in the top of the 3rd. After two hits and two outs, Tanaka walked to the plate. He hit the ball back up the middle to score Tsuruoka from third. Nakata would line out to Kawabata to end the inning. 2 – 1 Tokyo

For the third inning in a row, the Birds would score a run. After a quick out by Kawabata, Boo smacked a shot to left to put the Swallows back on top by two. After back-to-back singles by Iihara and Miyamoto, Aikawa grounded in to a double play to end the threat. 3 – 1 Tokyo


After a couple quiet innings, the decisive inning, the 6th, had arrived. Nakata got the Fighters to within a run when he hit a shot to deep left center. Roman would face two more batters before being replaced by Oshimoto. Oshimoto got Kaneko to fly out to Tanaka for the third out of the inning.  3 – 2 Tokyo

Iihara, making Ogawa look like a genius, smacked the fourth pitch he saw over Nakata’s head in left to get the 4th run of the game for the Birds.

I ate my Wheaties this morning, too!

But that was only the beginning. After Miyamoto grounded out to third, Aikawa got a single. Tanaka then took one for the team (right in the back) and hustled to first. Fujimoto came to bat in the 9th spot. He eventually walked to load the bases. After watching the team recently fail on so many previous occasions with the bases loaded, the fans were hoping to see some kind of positive contact as Milledge entered the batting box. Mr. Milledge delivered a grand-slam to the delight of all the Swallows supporters. Fukuchi and Kawabata went down to end the inning. 8 – 2 Tokyo

Milledge makes a Lasting impression on the Jingu crowd.

The Birds would add two more in the 8th. After Tanaka hit a single to center, Morioka hit a triple to right-center. Tanaka easily scored on the play. Morioka would stroll in on the very next pitch, a wild one.Two outs later, inning over. 10 – 2 Tokyo

Just to make it interesting, Barnette came in to work the 9th. Sledge doubled to right and was replaced by Nakashima. Oono would knock him in when he hit another double. After a ground out by Itoi, Nioka hit a 2-run HR. Those were the final 2 runs in this affair. 10 – 5 Tokyo (Final)

Game Notes

  • The Birds won for the first time in 15 days
  • Roman helped himself with a lovely RBI double in the 2nd. We need to see more of our pitchers doing this!!
  • There were 5 HR’s tonight; 2 for the Hokkaido residents, 3 for the Jingu residents
  • The teams combined to use 8 pitchers
  • 18,109 were witness to the streak ending
  • Inaba was recognized for participating in his 2000th game. Congratulations!
  • Lim pitched in a second consecutive game
  • Tonight was a C-league evening. Four of them won (Tokyo, Hanshin, Hiroshima, and Gomuiri) while the other two drew
  • Tomorrow is an off day.
  • The Birds will travel to play Softbank on Saturday. (The starting pitchers have not yet been announced as of this post being published)


About Scott

Scott is an avid fan of the underdog. He spent his childhood cheering for the Chicago White Sox and hating all teams from New York. Once he moved to Tokyo, he quickly directed this same hatred toward the tenants of the Tokyo Dome. Thus began his support of the Swallows (and anyone playing against the indoor Tokyo team).
In his mind, there is not a better place to be than at Jingu stadium watching the Swallows from the bleachers, drinking a nice cold drink, and cheering along with the extremely knowledgeable Swallows fans.

  • Baseball Oogie

    Well, finally. That’s where all the runs were hiding.

  • Augusttime

    Note: when Lastings hit the slam, it was Rihanna playing, not Miley. He switched it mid game. He needs to stick with Rihanna, imho. I blame that losing streak entirely on Miley.

    • Scott

      Thanks for the note. I agree 1000% on the song change!!

  • Michael Westbay

    Congratulations on breaking out of the slump.  Still, I was kind of hoping you’d break Lotte’s 1996 record.  That would have been fun.

    • Haha. If that had’ve happened this site would have imploded.

  • FLR

    Damn. I picked the wrong evening. The 18:00 start time is annoying and certainly limits my attendance. Has the NPB considered that the teams would have better attendance if they started games at 19:00 or 19:30, for example?

    • Pittpen10

      Apparently there are two reasons why they start the games at 6:00pm.
      One is to allow for all in attendance to make their respective trains/buses without any panic. The second reason is to conserve energy.
      Many of the diehard supporters of the team miss the first 3 innings.

  • Mike197942

    GREAT news!! Of course, I missed the highlights of the game on the nightly news…if they even showed it (I might have blinked!). Does anyone know where I can go online to see Milledge’s slam?

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