7/14/12 – Hanshin (Away)

July 14th, 2012

 Tokyo Swallows 2

Hanshin Tigers 3

Streak: Lost 1  Last 5: LLWDL

(Koshien)

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Tigers0000200001371
W: Fujikawa (2W-1L-14S / 1.69 ERA)
L: Yamamoto (1-2 / 2.46)

Tokyo fell to a sayonara walk-off Toritani double the in the 10th, but this was a game that they really should have wrapped up long before extra frames were needed.

SwallowsOrderTigers
Milledge (LF)1Murton (RF)
Tanaka (2B)2Yamato (CF)
Kawabata (SS)3Toritani (SS)
Hatakeyama (1B)4T.Arai (1B)
Matsui (RF)5Kanemoto (LF)
Miyamoto (3B)6R.Arai (3B)
Fukuchi (CF)7Hirano (2B)
Aikawa (C)8Imanari (C)
Tateyama (P)9Kubo (P)

The Swallows first chance came in the top of the 2nd against Tigers starter Kubo. Back-to-back one-out singles for Matsui and Miyamoto and a walk for Fukuchi loaded the bases for Aikawa. Alas, the catcher could only hit a grounder to short, and the double play was executed to leave Kubo smiling with relief as he returned to the bench with the scores still level.

Hanshin got their first man on base in the bottom of the inning via a Kawabata error, but the runner wasn’t alowed to advance as Tateyama continued to make rather easy work of the opposition batters.

Tateyama deserved better

And it was a severe case of deja-vu in the 4th, as a one-out walk for Matsui, another single for Miyamoto, and a dead ball for Fukuchi again brought up Aikawa with the bases loaded and just one red light on the board. Cue worst case scenario once more, this time a grounder to third, Arai stepping on the bag for the force out before throwing to first in time to get Aikawa too, and another solid gold chance had gone begging.

On so to the 5th. Takahiro Arai registered the Tigers’ first hit of the evening off Tateyama with a lead-off single to right. Kanemoto flew out to left for out number one before the other Arai walked to put two men on. Hirano grounded out to the pitcher for out number two, and then Imanari hit one past Tateyama and up the middle. Kawabata seemed to misjudge the speed/roll of the ball, diving over it and letting the ball escape to the outfield allowing the opening run to score for 1-0 Hanshin. With men now on the corners, pitcher Kubo then hit a liner to centre to score another run for 2-0. With men again on the corners, the slumping jesus-fearing ginger machine that is Matt Murton then hit a flyout to foul territory near first, and the inning was over with the deficit at two.

In the top of the 6th, Hatake got the inning underway with a single to left, but Matsui hit into the team’s third double play of the night to stick a pin into any momentum that may have been building.

In the bottom of the inning, a two-out walk for Toritani was turned into something more threatening as Tateyama fluffed a pick-off attempt to first allowing the runner to reach third on the error. But Shohei showed his stuff by striking out Arai and Kanemoto to keep the deficit at two.

Hatake lets fly in the 8th.

And crucial those Ks would be as the Swallows drew level in the 8th. With Enokida now on the mound for Hanshin, Tanaka got on board by way of a dead ball. Kawabata then hit a grounder to short, the out was made at second with Shingo beating the double play ball to first. Up stepped Hatake and he continued his good form by hitting a second-pitch high straight ball with authority into the leftfield stands. 2-2.

After Shoda had worked a 1-2-3 7th, Oshioto was on the mound for the 8th. And he walked the pinch-hitting Shibata to start the inning, but three straight outs followed with Hidaka coming in to get the last one, and the Tigers still hadn’t registered a hit outside the three in the two-run 5th.

In the top of the 9th, Milledge finally got on base at the fifth attempt (a superb Yamato running catch at the wall robbed him of at least two bases in the 3rd), but Lastings messed up his read of Fukuhara’s pick-off move during Tanaka’s at-bat and he was cheaply out at first.

The Tigers finally hit again in the bottom of the inning with Barnette on the mound, with two singles putting Tony in a two-out men on the corners jam, but he held his nerve to induce a ground-out to first from Imanari and we were into extra innings.

The Tokyo bats faced the recently back from injury Fujikawa in the top of the 10th, but Tanaka made it look easy with a single to right to start the inning. He was replaced by Hiyane who promptly stole second to give the Swallows a chance to take a late lead. An audible groan could be heard from the Koshien crowd as Balentien was announced to pinch-hit next, but he could only ground out to third. Coco continues to be held out of the starting lineup due to tightness in his right hamstring.

But there were still two outs to play with for Tokyo, but a strikeout for Hatake and a shallow flyout from Matsui left Hiyane marooned at second.

And that final wasted chance of many would prove fatal. Yamamoto took the mound for the bottom of the 10th, and a strikeout for Hiyama and another flyout for Murton put two red lights on the board. At this point we were a few minutes away from the 3 hours 30 mins “no more innings” cut-off point, and the Swallows bench made their intentions clear as they sent pitching coach Araki to the mound to waste a minute or so, Tokyo were going to settle for the draw. Only it didn’t work out that way, because despite the clock passing the 9:30 mark, Yamato got on board with an infield single, and then Toritani hit to the wall in left to bring home the sayonara runner from first for a 3-2 Hanshin Final.

Fuck these guys.

Notes

  • Tateyama put in a good 6 IP / 85 P / 3 H / 5 K / 2BB / 2ER performance, and had he received any run support, would probably have been left in longer.
  • Miyamoto went 4 for 4 (to go with his 5 for 5 game from June) and his average is now at .268.
  • 46,407 folks were there to see the Tigers extend their season series lead to 5-3.
  • The two teams will be back tomorrow evening with Muranaka due to take the mound for Swallows against Nohmi for the Tigers.
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