September 16th, 2012
Tokyo Swallows 2
Streak: Won 3 Last 5: WLWWW
(Meiji Jingu Stadium)
With Hiroshima losing to the Dragons earlier this afternoon, the Swallows looked to extend their advantage in the race for the third and final CL playoff spot to a full three games.
|W: Shichijo (2-3 4.85 ERA) L: Shinohara (1-3 5.31 ERA) S: Barnette (27S 1.99 ERA)|
And that they did, sweeping the hapless BayStars in the process. But this game offered plenty of exciting moments in addition to the W.
|Yuuhei (CF)||1||Aranami (CF)|
|Tanaka (2B)||2||Uchimura (2B)|
|Balentien (RF)||3||Nakamura (1B)|
|Milledge (LF)||4||Ramirez (LF)|
|Kawabata (SS)||5||Tsutsugoh (3B)|
|Miyamoto (3B)||6||Morimoto (RF)|
|Yuichi (1B)||7||Kajitani (SS)|
|Nakamura (C)||8||Takajo (C)|
|Shichijo (P)||9||Kagami (P)|
Yokohama very nearly scored first in the top of the second when Takajo’s grounder took forever for Kawabata to track down and Tsutsugoh, who had been standing on second at the beginning of the play, rounded third and headed for home. But much to his surprise, Kawabata did come up with the ball, and Tsutsugoh was eventually caught in a rundown between third and home. The inning ended without a runner crossing home plate when Kagami flew out to right with men on second and third.
The birds weren’t able to get on the scoreboard until the fourth. In fact, Kagami looked pretty sharp at the outset of this contest, even going so far as to pick Kawabata off at first base in the bottom of the second inning to nullify a modicum of Swallows momentum.
However, Kagami’s no-hit bid was finally broken up on his second offering of the fourth inning which Tanaka smacked up the middle. Balentien followed with a single of his own, and after Milledge’s grounder to short left runners on the corners (more on this play in a moment), Kawabata drew his second walk of the game to leave the bases juiced for Miyamoto.
Tanaka scored on Miyamoto’s sac fly to center on what appeared to be a 2-1 mistake pitch that got left up in the zone.
Despite having scored the go-ahead run in that frame, all was not rosy for the home team as Milledge had to be removed from first base after experiencing discomfort in his left shoulder.
Shichijo, for his part, showed some decent control in today’s game. After that scare in the second, he pitched four perfect innings in a row.
The Stars did finally get to him in the seventh, Shichijo’s final inning on the mound in what would turn out to be his first win since August 8th (also against the BayStars).
Former Swallow, Ramirez, led off with a double to left-center, and he would score easily on Tsutsugoh’s drive down the line in right.
All tied at one.
But Yokohama’s momentum would be permanently disrupted on the ensuing play when Morimoto tried to bunt Tsutsugoh over to third. Morimoto ended up laying his bunt down right in the path of the charging Shichijo who fired to Miyamoto at third. Tsutsugoh was called out on the play, and both he and the third base coach immediately took up their case with the third base umpire.
They were immediately upstaged, however, by Yokohama’s manager, Nakahata, who sprinted out of the dugout and promptly got his ass tossed from the game when he got a little too physical with the man in black.
Rather than being fired up by their manager’s passion and energy, the Baystars let the inning slip away on a strikeout/caught stealing double play.
More oddities ensued in the bottom of the seventh when both of Kagami’s hamstrings started to seize up in the middle of Yuichi’s lead off at bat. Kagami was replaced on the mound with the count at 2-2, and he ended up drawing a walk from Shinohara two pitches later.
Noguchi took Yuichi’s place on first, and he was quickly Tak-bunted over by Nakamura. Miyade, pinch-hitting for Shichijo, grounded out to second on the 0-1 pitch, but fortunately Noguchi was able to scamper over to third in the process.
The winning run scored on Yuuhei’s tricky grounder to short that allowed him enough time to beat the throw to first, and Noguchi was safe at home.
Shichijo got the win in his first start since August 22nd’s loss to Yomiuri. He threw just 90 pitches over seven full innings while allowing one run from five hits and one walk. He also recorded three strikeouts, all of them to end an inning. His ERA improved to 4.85, and his record now stands at 2-3 through five appearances this year.
Yamamoto and Barnette combined for two shutout innings with the latter earning his 27th save of the season. Yamamoto is now sporting a 1.18 ERA through 43 relief appearances this season, and Barnette’s ERA is now down to 1.99.
Tanaka was the clear standout with a 3-4 night at the plate. However, Yuuhei deserves equal praise for his two hits, three bases, and game-winning RBI.
The Road Ahead:
Tokyo next heads to Hiroshima for a CRITICAL three game stand against the very team that the Swallows are trying desperately to box out of the playoffs.
Roman (9-9, 2.95 ERA) will take the mound for the birds hoping to protect Tokyo’s fragile three game advantage while Hiroshima plan to counter with Otake (11-3, 2.16).
The first game is scheduled for Monday (national holiday), and all three contests will start at 6PM.
Tokyo is now one game below .500 with a 57-58-11 record. Hiroshima is just three games back in fourth place in the Central League.
Tokyo very nearly scored in the fifth inning, but Yuuhei got thrown out at home. It is up for debate whether or not he should have been waved around at all on Tanaka’s single to shallow center field…
Excellent grab by Kawabata on an Aranami liner to end the top of the eighth inning.
Tokyo is currently slated to play three more games against the Carp at the beginning of October. One is a replay of a rained out game at Mazda (scheduled for Thursday October 4th), and the final two are at Jingu (October 6th and 7th).
Hopefully Tokyo can do to the Carp what Chunichi did to us at the end of last season.