June 10th, 2012
Saitama Seibu Lions 4
Tokyo Swallows 2
Streak: Lost 1 Last 5: WLWWL
This game was crap. And soggy.
|W: Makita (4-5; 2.09 ERA) L: Barnette (1-1 13 S; 2.74 ERA) S: Williams (1-1 3 S; 2.25)|
The Swallows fielded a lineup that was very similar to the one they tried to put on the field for yesterday’s rained out game against the Chiba Marines. The rains returned today, but not until the bottom of the 10th inning.
|Kataoka (2B)||1||Milledge (CF)|
|Kuriyama (LF)||2||Tanaka (2B)|
|Nakajima (SS)||3||Kawabata (SS)|
|Nakamura (1B)||4||Hatakeyama (1B)|
|Akiyama (CF)||5||Balentien (RF)|
|German (3B)||6||Matsui (LF)|
|Osaki (RF)||7||Aikawa (C)|
|Uemoto (C)||8||Morioka (3B)|
|Makita (P)||9||Tateyama (P)|
Tateyama got the start today on six days of rest after having won his last decision, a 5-1 victory in Fukuoka over the Hawks. He was OK today although he had to work his way out of a couple of jams on his way to shutting the visiting Lions out for the first seven innings.
His opposite number, Makita, was sharper and used his ability to change speeds to great effect. He carried a perfect game through three innings, and a no-hitter through four and a third, the sole blemish being Milledge’s full count walk to start the fourth.
Makita’s no-hit bid came to an end in the fifth inning when Jun Matsui stepped up to the plate with one out. The free-swinging lefty drove the first pitch he saw, a snail-paced sinker, over the wall in center to add a larger blemish to Makita’s otherwise stifling afternoon.
It was the first homer of Matsui’s career with the Swallows. The 25-year-old joined the team before the 2010 season.
Tateyama was a bit better after Matsui gave him a lead to protect. He got through the sixth inning on just eight pitches, and the seventh cost him just 12. At that point, Tateyama’s pitch count was at 92 (5 H, 3 K, 1 BB).
But he ran out of steam in the top of the eighth. Kataoka drew a five-pitch walk, and Kuriyama bunted him over to second. Saitama shortstop, Nakajima, then watched four straight pitches miss the zone which meant runners on first and second, one out, and the end of the afternoon for Tateyama.
Having not allowed a run to score in his previous five outings, recently promoted Chang-yong Lim took Tateyama’s place on the mound. And he quickly allowed both inherited runners to score. Kataoka scored from second on Nakamura’s rope to left which left runners on second and third.
Akiyama drew a full count walk to juice the bases, and German hit a sac fly to right that allowed Nakajima to score easily from third.
Both runs were credited to Tateyama. Lim got out of the inning on Osaki’s grounder to second.
But Tokyo would force an extra inning with their backs against the wall in the bottom of the 9th. Kawabata led off with a drag bunt that targeted German at third for the second time today. Morioka had earlier reached base safely with a bunt down the third base line in the fifth inning, and Kawabata rolled one fair that again forced Saitama’s Dominican third baseman to make a late off-balance throw to first.
Hatakeyama hit one of his trademark pop flies to second, and Balentien struck out swinging wildly at a high heater after disagreeing with a called second strike, but young Mr. Matsui came through once again with two outs and Kawabata still on first.
He dropped a double behind shortstop that Nakajima quickly gave up on and allowed the fast-charging Kuriyama to have a stab at. He dove but couldn’t come up with it, and by the time the ball was in somebody’s glove, Kawabata was already rounding third.
Barnette came in for the top of the tenth and got ahead of Nakajima quickly, but worked an outside heater into right field. Next man up, Nakamura, chomped on a 2-0 cutter, sending it into the stands in left. Nakamura now leads the Pacific League in homers with 12, one ahead of Fukuoka’s Peña.
Barnette struck out former Tokyo backup catcher, Yoneno, to record the third out of the inning. Dealt to the Lions in the trade that brought Yamagishi (P) to Tokyo, Yoneno is now listed as an outfielder.
Miyamoto had a pinch-hit single to center to start off the 10th, but other than a Miyade walk, there wasn’t anything to get excited about. The rain delay in the middle of that inning didn’t seem to help us much either.
The one bright spot of the game, other than the gorgeous weather early on, was Jun Matsui. He had six total bases on 2-3 hitting (plus one walk) and notched both of Tokyo’s RBI. While we don’t know much about his arm, he can play both corner outfield positions with decent range and has been contributing solidly on offense.
With all the injuries and mediocrity that we’ve been dealing with in the outfield (Ueda, Iihara, Fukuchi, and Yuhei), it’s good to see that there’s some more talent brewing on the farm team.
The Swallows will seek to finally take a game from the Lions tomorrow night at Jingu. First pitch is slated for 6PM, and the weather looks benign at this point.