May 23rd, 2013
Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters 3
Streak: Tied 1 Last 5: WLLLT
A lot of eyes were on this game as 18 year-old rookie Shohei Otani made his pitching debut against the Swallows. Although Otani looked pretty impressive, the Swallows got the better of him and it looked like a strong pitching performance by Ishikawa would guide the team to victory. Unfortunately one bad at bat ruined Ishikawa’s night, and the Swallows had to settle for a tie.
|1||Lastings Milledge (LF)||1||Dai-Kang Yoh (CF)|
|2||Tsuyoshi Ueda (CF)||2||Kenshi Sugiya (RF)|
|3||Akinori Iwamura (DH)||3||Michel Abreu (1B)|
|4||Wladimir Balentien (RF)||4||Sho Nakata (LF)|
|5||Kazuhiro Hatakeyama (1B)||5||Eiichi Koyano (3B)|
|6||Shinya Miyamoto (3B)||6||Kenji Obiki (SS)|
|7||Ryosuke Morioka (2B)||7||Tomohiro Nioka (DH)|
|8||Yuhei Nakamura (C)||8||Shinya Tsuruoka (C)|
|9||Keizo Kawashima (SS)||9||Makoto Kaneko (2B)|
|SP||Masanori Ishikawa||SP||Shohei Otani|
Coming into tonight’s game both teams found themselves in their respective leagues’ cellar with just 18 wins. Despite the lackluster matchup, 36,608 people showed up to the Sapporo Dome to see Otani’s debut. Otani gave the crowd what they wanted with an all-fastball first inning where he constantly hit over 150 km/h topping out at 156 km/h against Iwamura.
But speed along does not make a good pitcher, young Otani. After getting two early outs in the second inning, Otani gave up a high-bouncing infield single to Miyamoto and a four-pitch all-fastball walk to Morioka. Nakamura followed by getting a hold of an Otani fastball and he lined the ball into the left field gap in the expansive Sapporo Dome outfield. The two out hit cleared the bases and Nakamura made it to third base for a triple. 2-0 Swallows
The Fighters struck back in the bottom of the inning on a two out hit of their own. With men on first and second, Tsuruoka grounded a single to left field to score a run. 2-1 Swallows
Ishikawa settled down and gave up only one walk and two singles, never in the same inning, over the next five innings. Otani lasted three more innings and gave up three hits and two walks, but managed to keep the Swallows off the board. The Fighters’ handed the ball to their bullpen and things got interesting in the eighth inning. The Fighters’ sent out Yuya Ishii to start the inning. Ishii had given up 5 runs in 2/3 innings against the BayStars in his last appearance. He looked true to form as he started off the inning with a walk to Balentien. After a fielder’s choice by Hatake, Ishii walked Miyamoto and gave up a single to Morioka that score a run. 3-1 Swallows Ishii walked Nakamura to load the bases for good measure, but the Swallows weren’t able to stretch the lead after the Fighters brought in Kagiya to replace Ishii.
Ishikawa went into the bottom of the inning with a comfortable pitch count of 95 pitches thrown, and he looked to be in good shape as he got quick outs from Yoh and Sugiya. Unfortunately, Ishikawa wasn’t able to get the third out from Abreu, instead he gave up a hard single to left and brought the tying run in the form of Nakata to the plate. After getting ahead 2-1, Nakata gave thr crowd what they wanted with a sky-high fly to right that landed in the front row of the right field stands. 3-3 All It was of little consolation that Ishikawa got the last out of the inning quickly after.
The Fighters’ handed the ball to Masui for the ninth and tenth innings. Despite allowing a single in both innings, Masui did not let the Swallows get any further. The Swallows gave the ball to Ishiyama for the ninth and tenth innings. Despite allowing runners on first in each inning, Ishiyama held the Fighters in check on the strength of five (!) strikeouts.
The ball went to each team’s closer for the eleventh inning with Hisashi Takeda and Tetsuya Yamamoto taking the mound for their respective team. (Perhaps Yamamoto would be better described as a “closer” for the Swallows.) Snarks aside both pitchers pitched perfect eleventh innings.
However, things got interesting in the top of the twelfth inning. The Fighters elected to continue with Takeda on the mound. Coco lead off with a single to center. He was replaced on the basepaths by Hiroyasu. Hiroyasu reached second on a sac bunt by Hiyane. Miyamoto wasn’t able to press the issue, and grounded out weakly to the pitcher. With first base open, the Fighters elect to intentionally walk Morioka, who had three hits on the day, to face Nakamura. Nakamura grounded a ball to third just hard enough to make Koyano mishandle it to load the bases. Unfortunately, Keizo wasn’t able to push in another run as he passivley watched strike three get called to end the inning.
Playing to preserve the tie, the Swallows elected to keep Yamamoto in the game, and he delivered three outs with little effort. 3-3 FINAL
- Miyamoto’s infield single in the second inning was his 2098th career hit. That put him in sole possession of second place on the Swallows’ all-time hits list. Miyamoto is the top right-handed hitter, and now trails only Tsutomu Wakamatsu for the lead.
- It appeared like Milledge aggravated his left shoulder sliding head-first into second base on a steal in the first inning. While he stayed in the game the shoulder did appear to bother him a little after he made a great diving catch in the second inning.
- The rest of the Central League, except the Dragons, won tonight. The Dragons’ loss and the Swallows’ tie, means the Swallows move up to within one game of the Dragons for fifth place in the CL.
- Otani topped out at 157 km/h for the night. He pitched five innings on 86 pitches, allowing 6 hits and 3 walks, while getting 2 strikeouts.
- Ishiakwa, on the other hand, threw for eight innings on 109 pitches, allowing 6 hits and 2 walks, while getting 5 strikeouts.
- The Swallows will have the day off tomorrow to travel back to Tokyo. They will face the Hawks in a two game series starting Saturday.