May 8th, 2012
Chunichi Dragons 1
Streak: Lost 2 Last 5: LWWLL
|W: Yamai (1-3; 1.69 ERA) L: Ishikawa (2-4; 2.91) S: Asao (1S; 1.59)|
Chunichi leapfrogged Tokyo back up to the top of the CL as they edged an ultra-tight affair in Aichi.
|1||Tanaka 2B||1||Oshima CF|
|2||Fukuchi CF||2||Araki 2B|
|3||Milledge LF||3||Ibata SS|
|4||Balentien RF||4||Wada LF|
|5||Kawabata SS||5||Blanco 1B|
|6||Miyamoto 3B||6||Tanishige C|
|7||Hatakeyama 1B||7||Hirata RF|
|8||Nakamura C||8||N.Donoue 3B|
|9||Ishikawa P||9||Yamai P|
Dragons’ starter Yamai was attempting his third start of the season against the Swallows, after racking up two losses and an ERA of 6.00 in his prior two efforts. Ishikawa faired much better in his only previous start against the Dragons this year, giving up just the one run over seven innings in what would end up as a tie. In tonight’s game however one pitcher would maintain that prior form, while the other would not.
Yes it was Yamai, who I previously described as distinctly average (yeah, sorry about that) who would break the mould and pitch a gem, pitching eight shutout innings, giving up just the three hits while fanning seven (three of those seven being Balentien) with no walks. The Swallows bats could find no solution to his stuff, and only managing to get a man past first in the 8th, when Miyamoto, who had reached via his second single of the game, found himself at third with two outs on the board, only for the pinch-hitting Fujimoto to line-out to second.
After that the Swallows got another man to third in the 9th with Asao on the mound (Miwa, pinch-running for Tanaka who had led off the inning with a walk), but Balentien struck out swinging to end the game.
Ishikawa was okay, giving up just the one run (unearned) in his seven innings off six hits with two Ks and a walk. That solitary run came in the 3rd: Yamai doubled his annoyance factor by singling to left to start the inning before he was bunted to second by Oshima for out number one. An uber-rare Miyamoto error allowed Araki’s grounder to escape into the outfield to put men on the corners for Ibata. He hit a grounder to Miyamoto, who threw to home whereupon Nakamura easily ran down Yamai who was hopelessly stuck in no-man’s land between third and home (he is a pitcher after all) which left men on first and second with two outs for Wada. And the veteran outfielder hit a grounder that just evaded the dive of Kawabata and Araki was home from second to make it 1-0 Chunichi.
Things could have got much worse as Blanco drew a walk to load the bases for Tanishige, but Ishikawa struck him out to keep the deficit at one.
Chunichi only really threatened again with Oshimoto on the mound in relief of Ishikawa in the 8th. A flyout-walk-walk-strikeout-walk combo loaded the bases for Donoue, but after battling seven pitches, he flew out to left to prevent a trademark sweaty-cap meltdown from Oshimoto.
- Milledge was ejected from the game in the 7th, after arguing a called third strike with the home plate umpire. He thought the pitch was high/outside, and communicated this matter to the ump, and Lastings appeared to be okay until he shouted something along the lines of, if my memory and lip-reading skills serve me well, “That’s a fucking joke”, as he headed back to the bench. And we all know that that any variant of fuck is the “magic word” in Japan that will see you ejected from the game regardless (as a non-Japanese), and so it proved to be as he was given his marching orders. Cue Lastings getting in the face of the ump (see above) and getting in a few more choice “magic words” before Balentien pulled him back and sent him on his way back to the bench. Ogawa then argued Lastings’ case for a minute or so, to of course no avail.
- And before we get any of the “That’s Lastings finally showing his true colours” schtick, I remember being present to witness Aaron Guiel getting ejected in the exact same way at Koshien a few years back, so no biggie in showing a bit of passion for the cause, no matter how futile it may ultimately be. And lets also not forget this is Lastings first mis-step in what has been a pretty impeccable start to his Japanese career.
- It was around that inning that Yamai appeared to start smirking after every out, tripling his annoyance rating for the evening.
- Ishikawa was the only non-Meikyukai member to hit, with a one-out single in the 6th. He would be stranded at first.
- Chunichi are extremely annoying.
- Thankfully Morino (back trouble) and his inflatable face weren’t involved in this game which would have increased the Chunichi annoyance factor immeasurably.
- 10154 folks spent 2 hours 34 minutes watching the annoyance that is the Chunichi Dragons baseball team.
- The CD logo on the Dragon’s cap shouldn’t be red. I can only conclude that it was designed by a colour blind person.
- I’m struggling to find much else to write about this game.
- Can you tell?
- Oh, hold on……
- Tokyo still lead the season series against Chunichi 4-2 with 1 tie.
- The two teams will travel to Gifu for game two of this series, with Muranaka taking on Nakata on the mound.
Now to leave you with some positive news. Earlier today, it should surprise no one to learn that Coco Balentien was named the CL MVP for March/April, making it a Tokyo double, with Shohei Tateyama also taking the pitching honour. Congratulations gentlemen!