September 3rd, 2013
Yomiuri Giants 3
Streak: Tied 1 Last 5: LWLLD
(Toyama Alpen Stadium)
An excellent shift from Takeaki Tokuyama plus wasted chances, boneheaded managerial decisions, and a mini bullpen meltdown all contributed to the Swallows playing out a wholly unfulfilling tie after 12 innings.
|Yamada (2B)||1||Chono (CF)|
|Ueda (CF)||2||Kamei (RF)|
|Kawabata (3B)||3||Abe (C)|
|Balentien (RF)||4||Murata (3B)|
|Yuichi (1B)||5||Takahashi (LF)|
|Ihara (RF)||6||Sakamoto (SS)|
|Nakamura (C)||7||Lopez (1B)|
|Yachi (SS)||8||Terauchi (2B)|
|Tokuyama (P)||9||Utsumi (P)|
Tokuyama was making his third start since his surprise promotion to the top team, and he put in easily his finest performance so far, restricting Yomiuri to just a solitary hit (in the 5th) over the first six innings.
Tokyo’s bats meanwhile built up a lead over the same stretch against Utsumi. In the 1st, a lead-off double from Yamada, an Ueda sac bunt, and a Kawabata ground out to second were enough for 1-0 Tokyo. In the 6th, a Coco double (yes, they more or less pitched to him, but more on that later), another sac bunt, this time from Yuichi, and an Ihara timely single made it 2-0. And in the 7th, consecutive hits from Yamada, Ueda, and Kawabata made it 3-0.
And so to the bottom of the 7th, and after giving up a double and a walk to leave men on the corners with one out, Tokuyama was sat, as Ogawa turned to the bullpen to try and hold on to the lead. Unfortunately, the first man from the pen was Fujita, and on his first pitch he threw one way left of Nakamura’s glove and a run scored on the wild pitch for 3-1. He then gave up a single which put men on the corners once more, still with one out. In came Yamamoto and he allowed a fly ball to centre deep enough to score another run for 3-2. He did however manage to strike out the final man to get out of the inning with the lead intact.
Tony Barnette then pitched a perfect two K 8th, before current closer Ishiyama came in to try and earn Tokuyama his first win as a pro in the bottom of the 9th. Unfortunately, a ground out, walk, strikeout, single, walk sequence loaded the bases with two outs, and another single brought home the tying run and it was 3-3. Ishiyama did manage to escape the inning without giving up the lead however and we were into extra frames.
The extra innings were marred by a couple of bizarre coaching decisions. In the top of the 10th, with two outs and no one on, Ishiyama came to the plate to strike out looking and end the inning, despite there being two men (Aikawa and Morioka) on the bench (seemingly) available to bat. Given how he pitched the 9th, that would have been puzzling enough if it had been to allow Ishiyama the chance to come out once more to pitch the bottom of the inning, but the fact that Kyuko appeared on the mound in his place made it absolutely baffling.
Then in the 11th, after Yamada led off the inning with a single, Ueda fluffed a bunt straight back to reliever Yamaguchi, and he turned and made the out at second. Up came Kawabata and he, yep, laid down another bunt, this time a successful one. Of course, next man up Hiyane (should have been Coco, but he was replaced by Hiyane as a pinch-runner in the 9th) grounded out to first and after gifting them two outs prior to that, the inning was over. To quote our own Kozo on twitter (@kojaxs) “Swallows Motto: If at first you fail, bunt, bunt, again. This is neither a formula for victory nor runs.”
The Swallows ‘pen meanwhile (Kyuko, Abe, and Shichijo) kept Yomiuri off the board over the final three frames and it was a 3-3 Final.
- Tokuyama’s final line: 6.1 IP / 106 P / 2 H / 3 K / 2 BB / 2 ER. He deserved much better.
- Balentien update. Firstly, no home runs. But I have to credit Yomiuri here, and it’s definitely the first time I’ve ever done this on this site, and it’ll more than likely be the last, because they pretty much pitched to him, certainly more so than Yokohama did the series prior. Coco went 1 for 4 with that 6th inning double, and he was intentionally walked in the 9th, but that was with two outs and a man on second, ie a legitimate free pass situation. Right, Yomiuri nicewordsfest over with. I assure you. Fuck Yomiuri. Right in the posterior.
- The Swallows out hit their opposition 13-6, and the chances were there to have made Ishiyama’s wobbly 9th moot, but they couldn’t bring home any more runs. I’ll leave it at that.
- Tomorrow will see the final game of this two and done series, this time it’ll be played at Fukui, with Yagi taking the mound for the birds.