July 9th, 2013
Yomiuri Giants 6
Streak: Lost 1 Last 5: LLWWL
|W: S**gano (8-2; 2.64 ERA)
L: Kiya (0-1; 3.38 ERA)
S: Nishimura (21S; 1.55 ERA)
Tokyo battled gamely, but the bullpen once more let them down as they fell to the Orange chumps on the road.
|Yamada (2B)||1||Nakai (2B)|
|Ueda (CF)||2||Tani (LF)|
|Milledge (LF)||3||Sakamoto (SS)|
|Balentien (RF)||4||Abe (1B)|
|Hatakeyama (1B)||5||Murata (3B)|
|Miyamoto (3B)||6||Takahashi (RF)|
|Kawabata (SS)||7||Chono (CF)|
|Aikawa (C)||8||Sanematsu (C)|
|Yagi (P)||9||Sugano (P)|
Any hopes of a second straight complete game shutout from Yagi were dispelled in the 1st. Nakai was walked on four straight pitches to get things rolling, then Tani hit a double to left that Milledge couldn’t quite snag, and Yomiuri had two men in scoring positions with no outs. Sakamoto then hit a fly to shallowish centre, and though the throw from Ueda easily beat Tani to home plate, for some reason Aikawa couldn’t hold on to the ball, and it was an early 1-0 Yomiuri. Yagi then found some rhythm, getting piggy overlord Abe to ground out to second before Murata struck out looking to end the inning.
Yagi got in more trouble in the 3rd, as the Swallows fell further behind. Tani got on board with a bounder along the third base line that appeared to go foul, but it was called fair and Miyamoto was rather harshly charged with an error for good measure. A Piggy double and a walk for Murata loaded the bases for Takahashi to hit to right to bring home two for 3-0.
But a dose of hope was delivered in the top of the 4th. Milledge doubled and was brought home one out later by a Hatakeyama dinger (no.8 for the year) to left and we were at 3-2.
Tokyo blew a chance to draw level in the top of the 5th. Shingo Kawabata, returning to the lineup for the first time this season, walked and reached second after a botched pick off throw from Sugano. He advanced to third on an Aikawa ground out, which bought up Yagi. Then someone missed a sign (my bet is on Yagi), as Kawabata charged for home while Yagi, after first showing bunt, decided to take a pitch instead. Kawabata was run down for out number two and the chance was done.
They would finally draw level in the 7th. Hatake hit a grounder to short to lead off the inning, with the ball passing straight through the legs of Sakamoto (error), and Hatake was replaced at first with Keizo Kawashima. Keizo promptly stole second before Miyamoto layed down an immaculate bunt to more the tying run to third. Up came Aikawa, and despite appearing to flirt with some more squeeze bunt nonsense, the catcher hit a sacfly to centre and we had ourselves a tied game, 3-3. Iwamura then came in for Yagi, but he could only strike out to end the inning with the scores tied, meaning that Yagi wouldn’t be involved in the final decision.
And so, with Yagi gone, we were into the familiar territory of bullpen roulette AKA let’s see which pitcher will blow Tsubakuro’s brains out today. Kiya was first up and a single and bunt put a man on second with one out. In came lefty Kyuko to face the pinch hitting lefty Bowker. And things started well as Kyuko struck out the American for out number two. Someone then engaged the Swallows patented BULLPEN MELTDOWN MODE allowing Kyuko to give up back to back long balls to Sakamoto and Piggy Overlord (off the first pitch) and Tokyo were in a 6-3 hole, with Tsubakuro now a bloody heap of twitching bird on the floor. Kenta Abe was then summoned to get the final out, which he did after allowing a single to Murata.
Reliever Mathieson then replaced one of several Yomiuri players tied for the award of the world’s most punchable/annoying face (Sugano) in the top of the 8th, and the Swallows crafted what would be their last chance to get back into the game. Back to back one out walks for Ueda and Milledge put two on for Coco, but the master blaster could only ground into an inning, and ultimately game ending double play. 6-3 Yomiuri Final.
- Yagi’s final line: 6 IP / 101 P / 3 H / 7 K / 5 BB / 3 R / 1 ER. His record remains at 2-6 while his ERA fell to 3.10.
- Kiya took the loss, even though it was Kyuko who did most of the damage.
- Kawabata’s return saw him go 0 for 2 with 2 walks. Yamada was the only other non-Yagi member of the starting nine to go hitless.
- 16,364 gurning locals mostly clad in newly bought orange towels/godawful orange shirts watched this one in the flesh.
- Muranaka pitched the 8th for the Swallows allowing one single and the runner to eventually reach third, but no further damage was done. At least he didn’t hit anyone this time.
- Yomiuri now lead the season series 5-4.
- I wish to write no more about this game, apart from stating the final game of the two game series will be played tomorrow evening in Fukushima. Akagawa will be making his return to the rotation for Tokyo, facing some Giants hack.