6/26/12 – Yokohama (Away)

June 26th, 2012

Tokyo Swallows 8

Yokohama BayStars 6 

Streak: Won 1    Last 5: LWLDW

(Ohnoyama Baseball Stadium, Okinawa)

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W: Masubuchi (2-2 / 4.61 ERA) L: Suda (0-2 / 8.70) S: Barnette (18 / 2.48)

Tokyo took a big lead over the first half of this one, then very nearly blew it. Thankfully this is not the same Swallows team of the torrid interleague games, and they had enough about them to seal the deal in a sweaty Okinawa.

SwallowsOrderBayStars
Milledge (LF)1Kajitani (SS)
Tanaka (2B)2Ishikawa (2B)
Kawabata (SS)3Nakamura (1B)
Hatakeyama (1B)4Ramirez (LF)
Balentien (RF)5Tsutsugo (3B)
Matsui (CF)6Kinjoh (RF)
Morioka (3B)7Tsuruoka (C)
Aikawa (C)8Suda (P)
Masubuchi (P)9Aranami (CF)

The Swallows had a chance to take an early lead in the 1st, with a single from Tanaka and two walks from Baystars’ starter Suda (who was also inexplicably batting in the no.8 spot in the lineup) loading the bases with two outs for Matsui. But the outfielder only managed to hit the first pitch he saw to ground out to second and end the inning.

Yokohama threatened Masubuchi in the 2nd, as a single and a fielding error from the portly pitcher put men on first and second with one out on the board. The Swallows escaped as Tsuruoka hit a flyball which  was caught in front of the Yokohama bench by a running Hatakeyama, with Hatake then throwing to third to pick off Tsutsugo who had tried in vain to advance from second.

Masubuchi deserved his win

And so to the 3rd. Back to back no-out singles for Tanaka and Kawabata put men on the corners for Hatake. And he poked one through the infield to right to bring home Tanaka for 1-0 Tokyo. With men now on first and second, Balentien struck out before Matsui once again fluffed his lines as he hit into an inning ending double play.

That lead lasted until the bottom of the 4th, when two singles and a sacrifice fly squared things up at 1-1.

But the Swallows would pull ahead in more convincing fashion in the top of the 5th. A lead-off walk for Milledge and a Tanaka sac-bunt put Lastings at second with one out. Kawabata then singled to put men on the corners before Hatake again delivered, this time poking one through the infield to right to score Milledge for 2-1. Balentien again got nothing of note to hit as he occupied first via the free pass to load the bases for Matsui. And Jun made amends for his prior wastefulness with a little help from our old friend Ramirez. Matsui hit a ball to the warning track in left, but a waddling Ramirez saw the ball bounce out of his glove as Jun got two bases for a 4-1 scoreline. That was all for Suda as Yokahama moved to the bullpen. With Balentien now at third, Morioka delivered a sac-fly to centre to add another to make it 5-1. Aikawa then worked a walk to put two men on, but Masubuchi grounded out to the pitcher to end the healthy inning.

And the lead would be extended in the 6th. A Milledge single and Kawabata walk put men on first and second for Balentien to hit a two-out two-run double to make things cozy at 7-1.

Only things weren’t as cozy as they seemed. Going in to the 7th Masubuchi had had a decent evening up until that point, giving up the one run off three hits. But he would soon run out of steam as the Yokohama batters worked him hard. After two outs off three pitches, a nine-pitch walk, a single and another walk, this time six pitches, loaded the bases for Kajitani. And after a ball, two strikes, and four battling fouls from the shortstop, Masubuchi had hit his wall, throwing three straight pitches in the dirt to walk in run number two, 7-2.

That was the end of his evening as Shoda was summoned from the ‘pen. But a base clearing double (with all runs charged to Masubuchi) from Ishikawa pulled Yokohama closer at 7-5. Shoda was sat down with Hirai appearing his place. But things didn’t improve as Nakamura hit to right to put the Baystars within a run, 7-6.

Thankfully the bleeding was stemmed as Hirai got 2012 ALLSTAR GAME STARTER (!??) Ramirez to ground out to third to end the inning.

Hidaka then steadied the ship with a 1-2-3 8th before the bats did their bit in the top of the 9th. Aikawa walked, was replaced by Hiyane who proceeded to steal second, and he was then brought home by a timely Fukuchi pinch-hit single to make things a little more comfortable at 8-6.

And Barnette then sealed the deal in the bottom of the inning, giving up a two-out single to Kajitani before wrapping things up with a strikout of Ishikawa for a 8-6 Tokyo Final.

Hatake delivered. And likely drank that beer after this photo. With some cigarettes.

Hatake delivered. And likely drank that beer after this photo. With some cigarettes.

Pitching

  • Masubuchi got his first win in his fourth start since returning as a starter for his 6.2 IP / 129 P / 4 H / 5 K / 5 BB / 5 ER performance. Aside from that 7th inning he’d looked decent, though Yokohama can have that effect on a pitcher. Not to mention he didn’t get a whole lot of help from Shoda and Hirai in that inning either.
  • I like Hidaka quite a bit. As stated by our very own COCO JUKU MAN in this month’s podcast, he is this year’s Kyuko out of the pen. And boy do we need him.
  • Tony Barnette’s 18th save of the season sees him remaining at no.2 in the CL save rankings, behind Chunichi’s Iwase (24) and ahead of, snigger, Yomiuri’s Nishimura (14), who also has the distinction of being THE WORLD’S FUGLIEST BASEBALL PLAYER IN THE WHOLE WORLD.

Batting

  • A good night for the bats as they outhit the opposition 12-7. The 2-4 spots in the lineup all had two-hit evenings and every starter bar Masubuchi registered a hit.

Other Notes

  • Balentien made a great sliding catch in the 5th to snag a shallow fly from Tsuruoka.
  • Tonight’s game started at 7pm and didn’t finish until just past 11pm. Only 10,271 Okinawans showed up to watch what was a very entertaining game.
  • Aside from the 7th inning, Tokyo were well in control of this one.
  • Tonight’s win squares the season series at 3-3.
  • This was the Swallows’ 30th win of the year.
  • The teams will play one more game in Okinawa tomorrow evening before Tokyo return to Jingu for a series with Hanshin from Friday.
  • Tomorrow’s starters will be Tateyama vs Alvarado.
  • With the Giants losing in Hiroshima tonight, and Chunichi beating Hanshin, Tokyo are now four games out of 2nd, six games out of 1st, and one game ahead of 4th.

About David Watkins

David is a baseball bothering Brummie who spends a fair portion of his life fretting over the Tokyo Swallows and the WORLD'S GREATEST FOOTBALL TEAM, Aston Villa. He completes the quartet of abusive sporting relationships by being a die hard New York Knicks and Mets fan. You can find him on twitter: @yakulto

  • Count Fistula

    The Yakult band were playing in Okinawa.  Are those cats paid, plus travel expenses?

    • As far as know, which I’ll admit it not so much when it comes to the red jerseyed goons, it’s mainly a voluntary thing.

      I think the squads for the more distant road games are mostly different and so there will be a different group in say Hiroshima from what you’d find in Jingu/the Kanto area, ie Hiroshima crew would be mostly sourced from that area of the country, though I’m not 100% sure about that.

      As for the more rare away-days such as Okinawa, I don’t know. Perhaps those that fancied a more exotic trip away went. I’m pretty sure they don’t get much in the way of remuneration/expenses though, or at least so I’ve been told.
       

      • I don’t know about Okinawa, specifically, but in there are regional oendan, as you said, David. The crew in Hiroshima also travel to relatively nearby “countryside” games – in Kure or Matsuyama, for example. There are different oendan in Nagoya and Nishinomiya as well. Even, as I recall, a different one in Niigata – I don’t know where they were from. The commitment to being in the Swallows oendan in Niigata would be far less onerous than being in it elsewhere, though.