May 18th 2013, vs Chiba

May 18th, 2013

Chiba Lotte Marines 3

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 5

Last 5: LLLWW  Streak: Won 2

(Jingu Stadium)

The Swallows sweep their two game series against the Marines at Jingu in a bizarre series of plays that should’ve seen the Swallows win comfortably, but ultimately lead to a cardiac-inducing game.

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W: Ogawa (4-1) L: Naruse (4-1)
S: Roman (1)

  Marines  Swallows
1Shunichi Nemoto (2B)1Wataru Hiyane (CF)
2Takashi Ogino (LF)2Keizo Kawashima (SS)
3Tadahito Iguchi (1B)3Lastings Milledge (LF)
4Toshiaki Imae (3B)4Wladimir Balentien (RF)
5Ikuhiro Kiyota (RF)5Kazuhiro Hatakeyama (1B)
6Daichi Suzuki (SS)6Shinya Miyamoto (3B)
7Takeshi Kanazawa (C)7Keisuke Mizuta (2B)
8Shota Ishimine (CF)8Yuhei Nakamura (C)
9Yoshihisa Naruse (P)9Yasuhiro Ogawa (P)

If I had told you that the Marines’ ace, Naruse, held the Swallows to 4 hits and 1 walk through 5 innings on 59 pitches, how many runs would you have expected the Swallows to have scored? If you have been following the 2013 Swallows, I think the obvious answer would be no runs, maybe 1 run. But sometimes, reality can be strange and bucks expectation. Allow me to give you a quick run down of the scoring against Naruse…

Balentien lead off the second inning with a solo shot to left. 1-0 Swallows

Nakamura lead off the third inning with a solo shot to left. 2-0 Swallows

Balentien launched a monster 1 out solo shot to left in the fourth inning. 3-0 Swallows Coco sent a ball into the back picnic area of left field for the second night in a row. These two home runs account for the two longest home runs I’ve personally witnessed at Jingu.

Naruse issued an one out walk to Nakamura in the fifth inning. After Ogawa struck out on a failed bunt attempt, Nakamura advanced to second on a stolen base. Hiyane (!?) proceeded to line his first career homerun into the left field stands. 5-0 Swallows

This is not a picture of a Hiyane strikeout...

This is not a picture of a Hiyane strikeout…

The above represents every hit and walk issued by Naruse tonight. Otherwise, Naruse held the Swallows in check and looked like he was in control.

On the other hand, Ogawa held the Marines scoreless through six  innings. Ogawa did allow multiple runners in the first, fourth, and sixth innings, but the rookie kept his poise and got out of the jams through strikeouts and generally weak Marines hitting.

Unfortunately, Ogawa was not as efficient as Naruse and had to hand the ball off to the bullpen after six innings. Ishiyama pitched a perfect seventh inning, and “Mr. Three-run” Matsuoka held the Marines off the board in the eighth despite allowing two runners.

The Swallows handed the ball to erstwhile closer Tetsuya Yamamoto in the ninth. Although after Yamamoto’s meltdown in Thursday’s game against Seibu it wasn’t entirely clear if Yamamoto was being sent in as a closer in a non-save situation. Yamamoto immediately gave up a solo shot to Keisuke Hayasaka. 5-1 Swallows The Marines fan I was watching the game with was as surprised by this home run as I was for Hiyane’s homer. Before the Swallows faithful were able to digest what had happened, Yamamoto served up a first pitch meatball that Nemoto launched into the left field stands. 5-2 Swallows Yamamoto managed to get a strikeout from Ogino before facing Iguchi. Iguchi took the first pitch he saw, and drove it into center for a no-doubt-about-it homer. 5-3 Swallows At this point the Swallows bullpen rushed into action, but Yamamoto still had to face batters as the bullpen rushed to warm up. Yamamoto managed to get Imae to fly out uncomfortably close to the left field wall, and walked Kiyota on four pitches before he was relieved for Roman. Roman kept the Swallows’ fans’ hearts beating at an uncomfortable pace by allowing a hit up the middle to Suzuki to put two men on with two outs. The Marines sent rookie Kato  up to hit. Kato recently had made headlines for hitting his first career pitch out of the park, so it seemed the fairy tale ending was being written for the Marines. After a few nervy fouls, Roman managed to get Kato to chase a 2-2 chageup away for a strikeout and the save. 5-3 Swallows FINAL

Whoever made this image best captured the tragedy that was the ninth inning.

Whoever made this image best captured the tragedy that was the ninth inning.

Game Notes

  • Ogawa got his fourth win by holding the Marines scoreless through 6 innings on 114 pitches. He gave up 5 hits and 2 walks, but also got 7 strikeouts.
  • Despite the win, the Swallows remain in last place in the Central League.
  • Balentien had his third multi-homer game of the season. He has 14 home runs in 132 plate appearances. Meanwhile, Central League homerun leader Tony Blanco (BayStars) has 20 homeruns in 180 plate appearances.
  • Miyamoto got a hit in tonight’s game giving him 2097 career hits, tying him with Atsuya Furuta for second on the Swallows’ career hits list. His next hit will make Miyamoto the Swallows’ all-time right-handed hits leader.  Tsutomu Wakamatsu is the Swallows’ all-time hits leader with 2173 career hits.
  • The Swallows will travel to Sendai to take on the Rakuten Eagles on Sunday and Monday. Yagi is slated to start tomorrow’s game.
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.