July 1st, 2012
Tokyo Swallows 9
Streak: Won 1 Last 5: WWWLW
Tokyo stage a sixth inning comeback to take the series and add another game of distance between themselves and the fourth place Tigers.
|W: Fernandes (1-0; 3.00 ERA) L: Ando (3-5; 3.22 ERA)|
The top of the lineup was rock solid this afternoon, and the birds showed a lot of fight after watching the Tigers turn a two-run deficit into a three-run lead in a dreadful top of the fifth for Muranaka.
|Lastings Milledge (LF)||1||Matt Murton (RF)|
|Hiroyasu Tanaka (2B)||2||Keiichi Hirano (2B)|
|Shingo Kawabata (SS)||3||Takashi Toritani (SS)|
|Kazuhiro Hatakeyama (1B)||4||Takahiro Arai (3B)|
|Wladimir Balentien (RF)||5||Ryota Arai (LF)|
|Shinya Miyamoto (3B)||6||Craig Brazell (1B)|
|Jun Matsui (CF)||7||Yamato Maeda (CF)|
|Ryoji Aikawa (C)||8||Akihito Fujii (C)|
|Kyohei Muranaka (P)||9||Yuya Ando (P)|
This was another topsy-turvy game in which both team’s starter had a hard time containing the opposing lineup.
The Swallows struck first this afternoon. Milledge started things off with a double down the line in right and was then dutifully bunted over to third by Tanaka.
He scored on an excellent piece of aggressive base running when Kawabata grounded out to short. Toritani fielded the sharp grounder and then checked Milledge at third. Milledge froze about four steps from third base, but as soon as Toritani turned and committed to first base, Milledge took off for home.
Kawabata was out at first, and Brazell turned to fire home. But Milledge slid home behind Fujii just as the ball arrived.
The bottom of the second inning started similarly. Balentien doubled off the netting above the wall in right and then moved over to third on Miyamoto’s 4-3 groundout. But he didn’t make it home safely as he was thrown out trying for home on Matsui’s grounder to second.
Balentien slid home hard on the play, and the resulting collision at home plate meant that Fujii would be removed from the lineup before his second at bat.
Fujii was actually the second Hanshin player to be removed from the lineup early in this contest. Brazell was plunked by the third pitch he saw and was immediately replaced with a pinch runner in the top of the second.
That pinch runner, Asai, made it all the way to third as the bases eventually got juiced thanks to Miyamoto’s fielding error with two outs. But Murton grounded out to second on the first pitch he saw to end the threat.
Muranaka had one perfect inning, the third, a nine-pitch inning that involved three infield grounders. Muranaka only allowed one runner in the fourth, a two out single to Yamato (he’s officially registered by his given name), but it was all downhill from there for the southpaw who is trying to reclaim a spot in the rotation.
After Balentien and Miyamoto drew one out walks, Balentien made it to third on a fielder’s choice that left runners on the corners. Balentien then trotted home on Aikawa’s double down the line in left.
Muranaka did nothing to protect that lead though. He started the fourth by allowing a hit to Ando (yes, the pitcher), and then Murton moved him over to third with a double. Muranaka then loaded the bases with a five-pitch walk to Hirano, and followed that with three pitches, two hits, and three runners crossing home plate.
Muranaka got the hook with runners on first and second and no outs. Yamamoto took the mound with the team now looking at a one run deficit, and eventually reloaded the bases after a seven pitch encounter with Ryota Arai ended in a single to center.
Asai pushed run number four of the inning across the plate with a sac fly to center, and that was followed by Yamato’s third hit in as many plate appearances before an attempt at a 6-4-3 double play ended at just 6-4 and the final Hanshin run scored.
And that’s about when it really started to rain steadily.
But the birds weren’t done. Milledge began the bottom of the fifth with a single to left on a full count, moved over to second on Kawabata’s one out single to right, and scored on Hatakeyama’s ensuing single to center.
Fernandes made his second appearance of the year and this series (he threw two innings on Friday night), and while it wasn’t pretty, he did get out of the inning without surrendering a run. In fact, the bases were loaded with one out, but Fernandes struck Ryota Arai out swinging, and got Asai to fly out to right.
And then the fun began.
Matsui started things off with a walk and moved over to second on Morioka’s pinch-hit, one out single to center. He then scored from second on Milledge’s third hit and second double of the game, this time down the line in left.
And that was it for Ando. Kato took the mound to face Tanaka with runners on second and third. While most of us were hoping for at least a sac fly, Hiroyasu had other things in mind. He waited on the first two fastballs he was offered and then pounced on the third, a 2-0 heater down the middle. The ball landed safely in the stands in left for Tanaka’s second homer of the season.
But the birds weren’t done. They grabbed a couple of insurance runs off of Kubota in the bottom of the seventh after Oshimoto allowed just one hit during
the top half of that frame.
Balentien worked a full count walk, his second of the game, and Miyamoto bunted him over. He scored on Matsui’s double to center, the team’s fifth double of the game (six total for the Swallows today).
And providing Tokyo’s final RBI was Fujimoto–facing his former team. He drove a 1-0 fastball into the gap in right for a triple.
Hidaka pitched a perfect eighth on just 6 pitches (one strikeout), and Tony Barnette did the same in the ninth (10 pitches) in a non-save situation.
Muranaka pitched four and 0/3 innings and was ultimately tagged with five earned runs on seven hits, one walk, and one HBP. He did not figure into the decision.
Fernandes ended up getting the win today, the first of his career, after his one inning of scoreless work in the sixth.
Milledge had six total bases, Tanaka five, Kawabata three, and Hatakeyama two. The front half of the order was awesome today.
The only starter not to record a hit was Miyamoto who went 0-3 with a walk. He also grounded into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth.
Monday is an off day.
The welcome the Dragons to town Tuesday to Thursday this week. All games are slated to begin at 6PM.
Only 21,029 tickets were sold to this Sunday afternoon game. The threat of rain diminished the turnout considerably it seems.
The game lasted three hours and 33 minutes.
Tokyo took the weekend series two games to one.
Hanshin lead the season series against Tokyo 4-3-1.
Milledge had two doubles today. He leads the team with 12. Hatakeyama is in second with 11.
Milledge also leads the team in hits (72) and batting average (.275).
Balentien already has 46 walks this season. That’s just 15 short of the 61 he drew last year. His slash line is currently .258/.403/.591–second two are team highs, and his slugging is tops in the Central League.
Tanaka is second on the team in walks with 31.
Tanaka’s second homer of the year puts him in a fifth place tie with Miyamoto in the team home run race.
Tokyo remain in third place in the Central League, 4.5 games behind the second place Dragons. Hanshin are still in fourth, 3.5 games behind Tokyo.