April 24th, 2015
Yomiuri Giants 2
Tokyo Swallows 3
Streak: Won 1 Last 5: WLWLW
(Meiji Jingu Stadium)
|W: Ondrusek (2-0 / 2.31ERA)|
L: Sawamura (2-2 / 1.84)
The Swallows moved clear at the top of the Central League table as they once more clawed their way back from a losing position, this time winning in sayonara style in extras.
|1||Chono (RF)||1||Yamada (2B)|
|2||Kataoka (2B)||2||Tanaka (RF)|
|3||Hashimoto (CF)||3||Kawabata (3B)|
|4||Sakamoto (SS)||4||Balentien (LF)|
|5||Anderson (LF)||5||Yuhei (CF)|
|6||Ibata (1B)||6||Hatakeyama (1B)|
|7||Murata (3B)||7||Nakamura (C)|
|8||Kobayashi (C)||8||Ohbiki (SS)|
|9||Poreda (P)||9||Ogawa (P)|
The big news going into this one was the return of Coco Balentien to the top team. Coco was last seen hobbling around the bases during a small handful of ni-gun games, and those observations seemed to line up with previous predictions that put him on course for a post-Golden Week holiday/beginning of Interleague return. Well cue raised eyebrows all round as he was not only added to the active roster today, but also popped up in the starting lineup sheet, batting in his customary no.4 slot, and taking his place out in left field. Too early……….? All would be revealed.
The positives of Coco’s return were in evidence as the Swallows took the lead against Poreda in the 2nd. Wanting no part in a highlight reel feature, Poreda walked Balentien to lead off the inning, and Coco later waddled home from second following singles from Yuhei and Ohbiki, much in the same way he did on the farm team. 1-0 Tokyo.
After Ogawa gave up the tying run off two hits in the 4th, 1-1, the negatives of Coco’s return were on display as Yomiuri pulled ahead in the 5th. Leading off the inning, Murata hit a towering fly to left, that looked like it was going to fall just fair. Probably realising the chronic lack of mobility of Balentien in left, Ohbiki chased back for the ball, but fluffed the catch attempt, with the ball being called fair and Murata occupying second on the error. Coco had also made a charge for the ball with Ohbiki, but pulled up a couple of metres away, and was clearly in pain/discomfort after the play, slumping to the floor on one knee. He would stay out in left for the rest of the inning, but was replaced by Ihara for the next inning.
The upshot of all this is that: A) Yomiuiri later took the lead on a Poreda blooper to right, bringing home Murata for 2-1 Yomiuri and, B) Coco’s return may well have put back his recovery even further. Great. For what it’s worth, I believe preliminary reports have it as “left thigh discomfort”, but we’ll have to see what transpires going forward on that one. But when he does return once more, how about a few games as a pinch hitter? Okay? Okay.
Those two Tokyo hits in the 2nd proved to be the only hits Poreda would allow through the first six innings, but Hatakeyama took matters into his own hands in the 7th as he hit one over the fence in left just right of the foul pole for 2-2, his 5th long ball of the season.
After Ogawa was done after seven, the bullpen took over, doing stellar work, as Akiyoshi, Barnette, and Ondrusek worked shut out 8th, 9th, and 10th innings respectively, the first two of those innings being of the perfect variety.
And so we head to the bottom of the 10th, with the chubby-human-shoe-horned-into-trousers-a-size-too-small AKA Sawamura taking the mound for the other team. Nakamura got things off on the right foot with a single to left, and Ohbiki bunted him along for out number one. Ueda then hit a sharp one to first that was too hot for Ibata to handle and the Swallows had men on the corners with one out. Sawamura then took exception to Yamada’s sprightly figure, plunking him in the side to load the bases. In came Yuichi to pinch hit, and he *almost* hit into an inning ending double play, but the Giants could only make the out at home, and it was as you were with two outs now on the board.
Up stepped Kawabata, and he made no mistake by simply aiming at Sawamura, who obliged by getting out of the way with the ball heading up the middle and allowing the sayonara run to score. 3-2 Tokyo Final.
- Ogawa’s final line: 7 IP / 102 P / 6 H / 2 K / 0 BB / 1 HBP / 2 R / 1 ER. He wasn’t involved in the final decision, and his record remains at 2-0 with his ERA at a tiny 0.76.
- Props all round to the bullpen.
- Tonight was the second “Tokyo Derby” of the season, with the Swallows marking the occasion by wearing convenience store uniforms, in preparation for the upcoming chain of Yakult Convenience Stores, coming to a town near you, sometime never.
- The win moves the Swallows to 14-9, one game ahead of both their cross-town rivals and that over-performing team from Nagoya.
- Tomorrow will see Ishikawa take the mound for the good guys, with the bad guys countering with young annoyance Taguchi (1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in his one start against us this year).