June 25th, 2013
Tokyo Swallows 7
Streak: Won 1 Last 5: WLWLW
(Meiji Jingu Stadium)
|W: Muranaka (4-5 / 4.11 ERA); L: Mishima (2-3 / 4.03); S: Yamamoto (9S / 3.54)|
The Swallows returned to winning ways as a decent all round hitting performance and six arms were enough to lift them to victory over the ‘Stars.
|1||Ishikawa (2B)||1||Yamada (2B)|
|2||Yamazaki (SS)||2||Araki (1B)|
|3||Morgan (RF)||3||Milledge (LF)|
|4||Blanco (1B)||4||Balentien (RF)|
|5||Tsutsugo (3B)||5||Aikawa (C)|
|6||Aranami (LF)||6||Miyamoto (3B)|
|7||Matsumoto (CF)||7||Ihara (CF)|
|8||Tsuruoka (C)||8||Kawashima (SS)|
|9||Mishima (P)||9||Leroux (P)|
Leroux put the first BayStar of the evening on via a six pitch walk, but managed to sit down the next three men in order in the top of the 1st.
And he had himself a lead in the bottom of the inning. Araki got aboard with an infield single and then Milledge hit a no-doubter into the left field stands to make it 2-0 Tokyo.
In the top of the 2nd, a fiercely hit grounder from Tsutsugo made it past Araki at first for a single before Aranami hit a grounder to first with the out made at second. Aranami then stole second before a second grounder from Matsumoto snuck by Miyamoto at third and into the outfield, with the runner scoring from second for 2-1. Leroux did allow another hit in the inning, off the pitcher Mishima, but he escaped with his lead still intact.
And that lead was gone in the top of the 3rd. Yamazaki hit one along the 3rd base line, and Milledge’s over zealousness in chasing it down led to him misjudging the ball’s bounce off the side wall, with a likely double turning into a triple. And Tony Blanco brought home the tying run with a single one out later for 2-2. Tsutsugo put two on with another single (after which the call to the bullpen appeared to be made), but Leroux got the outs of Aranami and Matsumoto with a fly out and ground out to short and we were on to the bottom of the 3rd with the scores tied and with Chris having thrown 64 pitches thus far. It could have been a lot worse.
And to start off that bottom of the 3rd, Yamada got on with one up the middle which was too hot for Ishikawa to handle. Araki bunted him along for out number one, but Milledge flew out to first before Coco drew a four pitch walk to put two on. Next up was Aikawa, and after hitting one to right that fell just foul, he tried again and hit one fair, scoring Yamada on the double for 3-2. Balentien was held at third by ALL-TIME SWALLOWS LEGEND OF NOTHING Shiroishi, when it looked like he would have had ample time to get home, at least to these eyes. But it ultimately mattered not as Miyamoto hit one to right, the bounce of which was misjudged by Aranami, allowing the ball to reach the outfield wall and two runs to score on the double for 5-2 Tokyo.
But it wasn’t Leroux that appeared on the mound in the top of the 4th, it was struggling starter turned bullpen help, Kyohei Muranaka. When I think of Muranaka the reliever, I think back to the Climax Series first stage back in 2011 at home vs Yomiuri, where he was quite frankly sparkling. But those rose tinted glasses were soon cracked as the true reality of modern day Muranaka sunk in as he walked the first man he faced. But he managed to avoid shattering the glasses completely by getting three straight outs, the last two of which coming with Miyamoto snagging a liner, and then throwing to first to easily pick off the retreating runner.
Muranaka led off the 5th with another walk, but a botched bunt from Morgan allowed Muranaka to throw to second for the force out, and Blanco was struck out swinging for out number two. But Muranaka will be Muranaka, as Tsutsugo hit his third single in as many at bats before an Aranami double to left scored Morgan for 5-3. But thankfully Matsumoto grounded out to second to end the inning and leave the Tokyo lead at two.
And so to the bottom of the 5th, where an Araki single and subsequent surprising to no one Coco walk (this time on 5 pitches) put two on, and while Aikawa struck out looking, Miyamoto hit one up the middle to score Araki for 6-3.
With Muranaka’s arm traded for an Iwamura fly out to left in a scoreless bottom of the 6th, we entered Russian Roulette territory as the Swallows turned to their shambles of a bullpen in the top of the 7th (I’m considering Muranaka as the second leg of a starter relay this evening). First up was Ishiyama who, despite issuing an almost inevitable walk to Tony Blanco, and another to Aranami to put two on, he got the three outs needed to avert the oh so familiar meltdown. RUSSIAN ROULETTE ROUND 1 RESULT: TSUBAKURO’S HAND IS SHAKY BUT ULTIMATELY EMPTY CHAMBER = SURVIVAL.
In the bottom of the 7th, Aikawa doubled off the wall in right off Yokohama reliever no.4 Kaga, but Miyamoto grounded out to second, and we were into RR Round 2 as Shichijo appeared from the bullpen.
And the hand continued to shake as he allowed a lead off two base hit from the pinch hitting Kinjoh to put Bakabon in a pinch from the start. The runner moved to third on a ground out and was brought home by a two out timely single from Yamazaki, 6-4. RR ROUND 2 RESULT: GUN GOES OFF WHILE SCRATCHING GROIN WITH BARREL OF BAZOOKA-TIME GUN, SHOOTING TSUBAKURO IN OVERLY LARGE YELLOW WEBBED FOOT WITH A SHITTY WRAPPED UP T-SHIRT = WOUNDED BUT STILL ALIVE.
In came Kiya to stop the bleeding and he did just that, getting Morgan to ground out to short to end the inning. RR ROUND 3 RESULT: QUICK FIRE, EMPTY CHAMBER = SURVIVAL.
Keizo Kawashima restored the three run lead in the 8th as he hit an unexpected gem over the left field wall off Hayashi. 7-4 Tokyo.
And so we reached the final round of RR, the most feared of all: a 9th inning pitched by Tetsuya “9th inning home run king” Yamamoto. A Blancowalk was followed by a fly out to centre from Tsutsugo. The game then ended in bizarre fashion as Milledge made a great catch at the foul wall in left off an Aranami fly ball for out number two, with Lastings then flinging the ball to first to try and beat the waddling retreat of Blanco from just rounding the corner at second to first. And though Blanco beat the throw, he forgot to go back via second, meaning that a simple throw to second was enough for the force out and the game was over. RR FINAL ROUND RESULT: EMPTY CHAMBER = TSUBAKURO IS FREE TO GO AND GET IT ON WITH TSUBAMI TO THE THEME OF “OOOOOOOOOOH, DENA BAYSTARS”. 7-4 Tokyo Final.
- Leroux’s final line: 3 IP / 64 P / 6 H / 1 K / 1 BB / 2ER. If his first three games could each be summed up by a word or phrase we’d have “balkfest”, “errorfest” and “bullpen implosion, erm, fest”, then I’d deem today’s game “short and wholly undistinguished”. We’ll have more to say about Leroux in the upcoming Tokyo Swallows Podcast.
- Muranaka took the win for his three innings of walking the lead-off man baseball.
- Every starter bar Coco (fly out, two walks and a strike out) managed a hit this evening. Especially impressive was the young 1-2 lead-off punch of Yamada and Araki who both hit twice, as well as the veteran relay of Miyamoto and Aikawa, who brought home 4 of the Swallows runs.
- 13,015 souls were present for this one.
- No Tsubakuros were hurt in the writing of this report.
- Tomorrow’s game will rather randomly see Furuno make his first career start for the Swallows, facing the BayStars Takasaki.