10/04/12 – Hiroshima (Away)

October 4th, 2012

Tokyo Swallows 4

Hiroshima Carp 0

Streak: Won 1   Last 5: LWWLW

(Mazda Stadium)

With the season winding down, the Carp and Swallows met for their final Mazda Stadium game of the 2012 season. With their post-season fate already sealed the Swallows came in to the game looking to extend personal achievements/records, keep positive momentum going for the Climax Series, and NOT GET INJURED. The Swallows succeeded on all three counts tonight.

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W: Muranaka (10-7) L: Ohtake (11-5) S: Barnette (32)
 Swallows Carp
1Kazuki Fukuchi (LF)1Tomohiro Abe (2B)
2Hiroyasu Tanaka (2B)2Masato Akamatsu (CF)
3Wladimir Balentien (RF)3Eishin Soyogi (SS)
4Kazuhiro Hatakeyama (1B)4Brad Eldred (1B)
5Shingo Kawabata (3B)5Yoshihiro Maru (RF)
6Yuhei (Takai) (CF)6Jun Hirose (LF)
7Ryosuke Morioka (SS)7Shota Dobayashi (3B)
8Yuhei Nakamura (C)8Yoshiyuki Ishihara (C)
9Kyohei Muranaka (P)9Kan Ohtake (P)

Muranaka came into the game looking for his second double digit win season of his career. While he scattered 6 hits over 7 innings, none of the hits went for extra bases, and the young lefty was able to keep the Carp off the board and put himself in position for the win.

The offense did their part by getting to Ohtake in both the second and sixth innings.

Things got cooking in the second after Kawabata and Yuhei got back-to-back one out singles. Morioka moved the Kawabata over to third with a fielder’s choice to second. Nakamura got Kawabata home with an infield single to short. 1-0 Swallows

Ohtake locked down the Swallows for the next three innings before he allowed a single to Fukuchi to lead off the sixth inning.

A slightly younger Fukuchi.

We’d like to take this time to acknowledge the impending retirement of Kazuki Fukuchi. It came out earlier this week that Fukuchi had made a decision to retire after the conclusion of this season. Fukuchi came into the league as a fourth round draft pick for the Hiroshima Carp in the 1993 draft. After languishing with the Carp for over ten years as a mostly pinch-runner/defensive replacement, Fukuchi was traded to the Seibu Lions in 2006. The change of scenery did the speedy switch-hitter a world of good as he was able to secure regular playing time for the first time in his career. After 2 seasons in Saitama, Fukuchi became a Swallow after the team chose to take him as player compensation for Seibu’s free agent signing of Kazuhisa Ishii. In the next two seasons Fukuchi finally got enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title for the first time in his career, and he won back-to-back CL stolen base titles. Injuries and the Swallows’ commitment to further develop young talent has pushed Fukuchi back into a supporting role. Even as a support player Fukuchi has contributed with some clutch hits, good defense, and fine base-running. Apparently, the team offered to hold a retirement ceremony during the Swallows’ last regular season game on the 7th at Jingu against his old team, but Fukuchi refused so as not to be a distraction. A move that makes sense as the game on the 7th would not be Fukuchi’s last game, and the veteran would get playing time during the Swallows’ playoff run.

Fukuchi has been hot over the final strech, hitting safely in 7 straight games with 4 multi-hit games. His lead-off hit in the sixth set the stage for his 250th career steal just one pitch later. While 250 career steals is not a lot over a 19 year pro career, but it underscored the grit and determination that allowed Fukuchi to have a long and ultimately memorable career. While Fukuchi had declined the opportunity to have his career celebrated in a public ceremony, Fukuchi is certainly a player that would have deserved that honor. We here at Tsubamegun would like to take this opportunity to wish Fukuchi all the best in his remaining games, and his post-playing career.

While Fukuchi declined to have a retirement game ceremony, his 250th career steal gives us a chance to recognize his career.

Fukuchi’s robbery of second base allowed him to score when Hiroyasu followed with a hit of his own. 2-0 Swallows

After Balentien flied out, Hatakeyama got a single to put two men on base for Kawabata. Kawabata, who still has a shot to end the season with a .300 batting average, helped his cause by hitting a double to score both runners. 4-0 Swallows The Carp pulled Ohtake and put in Egusa to face Yuhei. Yuhei hit a hard liner that got caught by Eldred, and Kawabata was doubled off second to end the scoring chance.

Matsuoka pitched a clean enough eighth inning (1 hit and 1 strikeout), and the Swallows handed the ball to Masubuchi in the ninth. Masubuchi managed to put two men on base while collecting two outs to suddenly make the inning a save situation. (Remember folks, if the potential tying run is on the on deck circle it’s a save situation.) As it was a save situation, the Swallows sent Barnette in to collect the last out.

Tony got Maeda to ground out to end the game and give him his 32nd save of the season. The 32 saves puts Tony in a tie with the Giants’ Nishimura for second, 1 save behind the CL leading Iwase. The Dragons, and consequently Iwase, just have 1 game left in their season while the Giants and Swallows still have 3 games to play. While we’d be perfectly content if the Swallows finish off the season with big wins that give Tony some rest, we certainly wouldn’t mind if he ends up as the CL saves leader over Iwase and Nishimura.

The Swallows’ season ending gauntlet of games continues tomorrow at Koshien against the Tigers. Ishikawa will get his last start before the CS against Iwamoto.

Notes

  • Muranaka pitched 7 innings, giving up 6 hits, 2 walks, and got 5 strikeouts.
  • We’d be remiss if we didn’t note that on top of his batting (2-for-4), and his milestone stolen base, Fukuchi managed to flash some leather on a sliding catch in the third inning.
  • As it was the Carp’s last home game of the season, Kanjiro Nomura addressed the home crowd to some applause and catcalls.
About Kozo Ota

Kozo Ota is a third-generation Swallows fan that grew up on Montreal Expos baseball. (You can read more about that here.) When he's not at Jingu, he works as a freelance translator/interpreter to make enough money to go to Jingu. You can find random posts by Kozo on Google+ and Twitter.

  • Good work with the Fukuchi retrospective.

    Sad to see him go as he, like he’s proved this year, can still do a job for the team.

    I guess he’s got his reasons though.

    • Rob

      I’m hoping it’s because deep down inside Fukuchi really wants to be a third-base coach.

      And Ueda’s back! Marking his return immediately with a frightening dive for a nice catch (in a meaningless game).

      • Indeed. 

        Fukuchi>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Shiroishi.

  • Indeed. Fukuchi >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Shiroishi.