March 29th, 2014
Tokyo Swallows 4
Streak: Lost 1 Last 5: WL
(Meiji Jingu Stadium)
Yokohama brought both teams winning percentage to .500 with the BayStars first win of the 2014 season.
|W: Inoh (1-0; 3.00 ERA)
L: Yamamoto (0-1; 4.50)
S: Sosa (1S; 0.00)
Despite the loss, there were several positives to take away from this game from the home team’s perspective.
|Ishikawa (2B)||1||Yamada (2B)|
|Yamazaki (SS)||2||Yuhei (CF)|
|Kajitani (RF)||3||Balentien (RF)|
|Blanco (1B)||4||Milledge (LF)|
|Tsutsugo (LF)||5||Kawabata (3B)|
|Baldiris (3B)||6||Hatakeyama (1B)|
|Kinjo (CF)||7||Aikawa (C)|
|Kurobane (C)||8||Nishiura (SS)|
|Inoh (P)||9||Ishikawa (P)|
Tokyo once again got on the board first, but they needed a little help from Blanco who committed an error on Yuhei’s grounder with one out. Balentien followed with his first walk of the season (five pitches), and one out later Kawabata brought Yuhei home from second on a single to left field.
But Yokohama rebounded quickly in the top of the second as Tokyo’s veteran starter, Ishikawa, attempted to work the edges of the plate against the business department of Yokohama’s lineup. Tsutsugo found himself on first after a five-pitch affair in which his bat never left his shoulder. Then Baldiris worked the count full and finally ripped his first home run of the season on pitch number 11 to put the BayStars ahead.
The visitors piled more pressure on the Swallows in the third inning. Ishikawa again issued a leadoff walk, and Kajitani reached first safely on a run and hit. With two on, Blanco was able to hit a ball deep enough to center to allow Yamazaki to touch up and reach third. On Tsutsugo’s ensuing grounder to second, Yamazaki was able to scoot home.
Kawabata and Aikawa teamed up in the sixth to tie the game up in everyone’s favorite fashion. Kawabata laced the second slow curve in as many pitches into right field to start the inning, and Hatakeyama (aka Fludge) popped up to left on the first pitch to illuminate the first red LED lamp. Aikawa took a couple of high heaters before pulling a third, slightly lower fastball into the left field bleachers.
That would be enough to prevent Ishikawa from getting the loss, and Oshimoto pitched a slightly prolonged sixth (2 Ks, 1 HBP). It was his first appearance of the 2014 season.
Yamamoto made his own first appearance on the mound in the top of the seventh, and he secured the first two outs on a pair of ground balls. However, he fell behind during Yamazaki’s at bat and ended up surrendering the fifth home run of the infielder’s career. It would prove to be the difference.
Off-season addition, Chris Carpenter, made his debut in a Tokyo uniform and gave up an RBI single to Kurobane to double the Yokohama advantage.
Tokyo got one back in the bottom of the eighth. Kawabata again found his way on base, this time on a walk, before Fludge again punched one straight up in the air, this time to short. Aikawa then contributed his third hit of the game with a clean single to left, and Yuichi eventually hit one into the field of play after a bunch of foul balls to score Kawabata from third.
The Swallows threatened to score in the bottom of the ninth with Milledge and Fludge both picking up their first hits of the game (double and infield single). But Sosa overpowered Aikawa on three straight pitches to bring the game to a close.
Ishikawa threw 87 pitches over five innings of work in his first start of 2014. He was likely unhappy with his performance because he was constantly playing catch-up during the first three innings of the game. In fact, he walked the leadoff batter each time. However, it should be noted that he pitched a strong fourth and fifth innings in which he didn’t allow a base runner and he struck out two in each frame. He ended up recording eight strikeouts against three walks, and he allowed three earned runs on five hits (one homer). Tokyo is going to need a strong season from Ishikawa (0-0, 5.40 ERA) if it hopes to make it to the playoffs this year.
For the second day in a row, the Swallows banged out 13 hits.
Aikawa had what would have been a Game MVP day at the plate. He was 3-5 (1B, HR, 1B) with two RBI.
Yamada, Balentien, and Kawabata had two-hit games. They each drew a walk as well.
Other than Ogawa’s bunt with one out last night, the Swallows have made it two full games without a Tak bunt (man on first, no outs, position player sacrifice bunts).
Tony Barnette pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for the Swallows in his first appearance of the season. 12 pitches, 1 strikeout, zero runners.
Game three of this series is scheduled for 1:30PM tomorrow afternoon. If it doesn’t rain.