July 12th, 2012
Tokyo Swallows 6
Streak: Tied 1 Last 5: LLLWD
(Meiji Jingu Stadium)
After winning the previous night’s game on a grand slam, the Swallows looked like they overcame an early grand slam by the BayStars before giving the game away in the ninth for a tie. Although ultimately both sides benefited from bizarre play and the tie seemed fitting… somehow.
After Balentien came up limping after his final at bat last night, he was out of the lineup tonight with a strain (?) in the back of his right thigh. The Balentien absence necessitated a lineup shuffle that saw Miwa starting in center and Kawabata returning to active duty, at third.
|1||Takahiro Ishikawa (2B)||1||Lastings Milledge (LF)|
|2||Naoto Watanabe (SS)||2||Masayoshi Miwa (CF)|
|3||Norihiro Nakamura (3B)||3||Shingo Kawabata (3B)|
|4||Randy Ruiz (1B)||4||Kazuhiro Hatakeyama (1B)|
|5||Yoshitomo Tsutsugo (RF)||5||Jun Matsui (RF)|
|6||Tatsuhiko Kinjo (CF)||6||Hiroyasu Tanaka (2B)|
|7||Masaaki Koike (LF)||7||Ryosuke Morioka (SS)|
|8||Kazunari Tsuruoka (C)||8||Ryoji Aikawa (C)|
|9||Kisho Kagami (P)||9||Masanori Ishikawa (P)|
The BayStars struck first in a big way in the second inning. Ishikawa started off the inning by giving up a single to Tsutsugo. Kinjo drew a walk and Koike smacked a single to load the bases. Tsuruoka patiently fouled off many pitches and finally deposited the 11th pitch he saw to the left field stands for a grand slam. 4-0 BayStars
But against the BayStars a 4 run deficit disappeared surprisingly quickly. In the bottom of the inning, Hiroyasu opened with a single and came a round to score after Morioka followed with a deep double to right. 4-1 BayStars Aikawa got men on the corners with a single. The Swallows conceded a out with a Ishikawa bunt to put men on second and third. Kisho Kagami, the BayStars’ sophomore pitcher making just his 3rd NPB start, couldn’t throw strikes to Milledge and loaded the bases with 4 straight balls. Miwa gave up an infield popout that helped no one, and with 2 outs and the bases loaded, the pressure was on Kawabata to make a comeback splash. Kawabata didn’t respond quite as the faithful hoped for, but managed to hit the ball hard enough to get Ruiz to misplay it at first base and allow 2 runs to score. 4-3 BayStars With men on the corners, Hatakeyama got a clean single to left to bring the game back to even. 4-4 All Kagami managed to get the final out of the inning before the BayStars decided to pull him from the game.
Things slowed down a bit until the bottom of the fourth in which the Swallows managed to load the bases a sequence of plays that were exciting to watch but ultimately lead to zero runs. (To quickly summarize; Milledge singles, steals second, Miwa lays down a beautiful safety bunt to put men on the corners, Miwa steals second himself, and Hatake draws a walk to load the bases with 2 outs. Unfortunately Matsui couldn’t cash in on the chance.)
Things got “interesting” in the fifth as Watanabe opened with a single to right. But this was a Swallows-BayStars game so, of course, Matsui misplays the bounce in right and lets the ball get behind him to give Watanabe third base with no out. (It’s déjà vu all over again!) Nakamura Nori, with his .533 avaerage against the Swallows, followed with a single to score Watanabe. 5-4 BayStars
But the Swallows again responded in the bottom of the inning. Hiroyasu opened the inning with a double and came around to score when Aikawa got a double after a Morioka grounded out. 5-5 All The Swallows decide to end Ishikawa’s night by bringing in Fujimoto to pinch hit. Again, the BayStars were uncomfortable with being in a winning position and when Fujimoto grounded to third Nakamura screwed up his throw to first to let Aikawa score from second. 6-5 Swallows (But for those counting earned runs, the score should have been 4-2 BayStars) The inning continued a bit longer with a Milledge walk and a wild pitch to put men in scoring position, but the run totals didn’t change.
Things settled down for both sides. Yamamoto, Oshimoto, and Hidaka all pitched scoreless innings despite giving up a runner each. While Hayashi, Fujie, and Kikuchi pitched 3 innings of perfect ball between them. It looked like the Swallows would get away with the win as Barnette got to 2 outs in the top of the ninth. But things didn’t end so cleanly as Watanabe managed a single to center to give another at bat the Swallows-killer Nakamura. With Watanabe’s pinch runner, Uchimura, running on the pitch Nakamura belted Barnette’s fifth pitch to the center field wall for a game-tying double. Barnette added to the comedy of errors by hitting Ramirez before retiring Tsutsugo for the final out. 6-6 All
Yamaguchi came in and retired Hatakeyama, Matsui, and Tanaka without much issue, and with the 3:30 rule in effect the game ended as a 6-6 tie after 3 hours and 46 minutes.
The Swallows take their circus show on the road to Koshien for a weekend series against the Tigers.