June 13th, 2015
Saitama Lions 6
Streak: Lost 1 Last 5: WWLWL
(Seibu Prince Dome)
Ishikawa had another forgettable Saturday on the mound, and the Swallows shuffled lineup couldn’t reproduce Friday night’s early firepower and overcome a six run deficit in the end.
|W: Kikuchi (3-2; 3.33 ERA)
L: Ishikawa (4-6; 3.79 ERA)
S: Takahashi (1-0 18S; 0.96 ERA)
The team leader that he is, maybe Ishikawa is trying to make 2014’s prize acquisition, Naruse, feel better about himself?
|1||Tetsuto Yamada (2B)||1||Shogo Akiyama (CF)|
|2||Tsuyoshi Ueda (CF)||2||Takumi Kuriyama (LF)|
|3||Shingo Kawabata (3B)||3||Hideto Asamura (2B)|
|4||Kazuhiro Hatakeyama (1B)||4||Takeya Nakamura (3B)|
|5||Yuhei (Takai) (RF)||5||Ernesto Mejía (1B)|
|6||Takahiro Araki (LF)||6||Tomoya Mori (DH)|
|7||Mitch Dening (DH)||7||Anthony Seratelli (RF)|
|8||Yuhei Nakamura (C)||8||Naoto Watanabe (SS)|
|9||Naomichi Nishiura (SS)||9||Ginjiroh Sumitani (C)|
|SP||Masanori Ishikawa||SP||Yusei Kikuchi|
And Ishikawa’s opposite number, Kikuchi, didn’t help matters much. Despite issuing four walks, he struck out nine and carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning.
But let’s get back to that six run deficit.
In the bottom of the first, Ishikawa allowed outfield singles to Akiyama and Kuriyama before recording the first out. Nakamura then ripped one hard to left that just barely stayed in play which brought home one run. Mejía then ripped a homer to left that cleared the bases.
Kikuchi wasn’t particularly efficient, but he kept batters off-balance just enough to have them guessing incorrectly about kph all afternoon. He walked two runners in the fourth, but that was arguably as dangerous as the day would get for him. He escaped that inning unharmed, of course.
The home team posted two more runs in the fifth, both of which were credited to Ishikawa. Akiyama grounded out to short, but then Kuriyama singled, and Asamura doubled down the left field line with a ferocity that immediately had Manager Manaka up and out of the dugout.
Ishikawa was replaced on the mound by Ishiyama who recorded out number two and then conceded both of Ishikawa’s runners on Mejía’s single to left. That’s five RBI for Saitama’s 29-year-old first baseman from Venezuela.
It wasn’t until the eighth inning that the Birds finally got to Kikuchi. The southpaw from Iwate Prefecture, who turns 24 on Wednesday, had already thrown 138 pitches when he took the mound to start the eighth. And it took only two pitches for pinch-hitter, Hiroyasu Tanaka, to end his no-hit bid with a single to center on a relatively tame 1-1 Kikuchi heater.
Saitama manager, Tanabe, quickly pulled the cord and Kikuchi hit the showers. In came Tokyo’s new favorite person in Saitama, Esmerling Vasquez.
Morioka (pinch hitting for Nakamura) popped out to left to get the first out, but then Yuichi (pinching for Nishiura) doubled to right. With runners on second and third, Yamada hit a high bouncer to third which allowed enough time for a run to score and for him to beat the throw to first.
Ueda then lined out to short for out number two, but all runners were able to scramble back to safety.
Kawabata watched both runners advance one base after Vasquez nearly took his leg off with a wild pitch that rolled all the way back to the back screen padding. With his breaking pitches repeatedly missing the target, Vasquez switched to fastballs, and Kawabata waited for one to drift over the center of the plate. The 3-1 pitch fit that description, and he grooved it into center for two more Tokyo runs.
Hatakeyama also secured a single at Vasquez’s expense, and after four hits from 18 pitches, Tanabe again made the call to the pen. Takekuma came in to face Yuhei with two outs and runners on the corners. Takekuma flirted with the outside and underbelly of the zone for most of Yuhei’s at-bat, but the latter eventually got hold of one of those low heaters and made good with an RBI single to center.
That would be it for the Tokyo rally as Araki ended his hitless day with a grounder to short, and Takahashi was clean through the bottom of the Swallows’ pinch-hit trio from that big eighth inning.
The rubber match is scheduled for tomorrow at 1 PM. Ogawa (3-3; 2.99 ERA) will face off against Saitama’s Kuo (3-5; 4.28 ERA).
- Ishikawa took the loss after surviving just 4 and 1/3 innings (86 pitches). He struck out three and didn’t allow a single walk, but he surrendered six earned runs from nine hits (one homer). This continues a slightly worrying trend for Ishikawa of quick exits for Ishikawa in May and June. You may remember that he gave up seven earned runs in his 5 and 1/3 innings last Saturday (no decision).
- Yamada and Ueda both reached base twice.
- Kikuchi’s final line: 7 and 0/3 innings, 140 pitches, one hit, nine Ks, four walks, one earned run.
- The train connections and traffic routes to and from Saitama’s stadium are crap. It’s somewhat understandable, yet always inexcusable, that Saitama’s fans have a reputation for leaving the game after the seventh inning.