September 15th, 2015
Tokyo Swallows 2
Last 5: WWLDW Streak: Won 1
(Meiji Jingu Stadium)
|W: Barnette (3-1 35S / 1.29 ERA)
L: Okajima (0-2 / 11.25)
Yuhei Nakamura came though in the clutch with a huge 9th inning sayonara hit to edge the Swallows past the BayStars to maintain their paper-thin lead atop the CL.
|1||Aranami (CF)||1||Hiyane (CF)|
|2||Shirasaki (SS)||2||Kawabata (3B)|
|3||Kajitani (RF)||3||Yamada (2B)|
|4||Tsutsugo (LF)||4||Hatakeyama (1B)|
|5||Lopez (1B)||5||Yuhei (RF)|
|6||Miyazaki (2B)||6||Dening (LF)|
|7||Baldiris (3B)||7||Imanami (SS)|
|8||Minei (C)||8||Nakamura (C)|
|9||Miura (P)||9||Tateyama (P)|
With just 16 games left in the season coming into tonight’s game combined with just how historically tight this Central League pennant race is, every game from here on out is essentially a playoff game. And tonight we had a veteran pitching match-up suited for such an occasion, with Shohei Tateyama facing off against Daisuke Miura.
Tateyama was in fine form, continuing his trend back toward his old standard of excellence, tonight being the third straight game in which he has allowed just one run or less over a five or more inning span. Tonight saw him post a line pf 7 IP / 92 P / 3 H / 5 K / 1 BB / 1 ER, and while he wasn’t involved in the final decision, his record remains at 5-2 with his ERA shrinking to 3.04.
The only run Shohei allowed came in the top of the 1st, and wasn’t all of his own doing. Seeing a surprise return to the top team in place of Lastings Milledge (who was sent down to the farm team), Mitch Dening started the game in left, and he misjudged a fly ball from Aranami, allowing the ball to reach the fence, and Yokohama had themselves a lead-off double. That run would score one out later on a Kajitani single to make it 1-0 Yokohama. It was ruled a hit for the BayStars centre fielder, sparing Dening the error he probably deserved, and adding the subsequent earned run to Tateyama’s ledger. Tateyama allowed another hit in the inning, but he wouldn’t allow another through the rest of his shift.
Miura meanwhile surrendered his only run of his seven innings in the 2nd. Back-to-back lead off walks for Yuhei and Dening set the table for Imanami, who singled to centre to bring home Yuhei and tie up the game at 1-1.
Chances were scarce against Miura, with Tokyo’s only real chance coming after a one-out Yamada double in the 3rd, but a superb diving stop from Balderis at third robbed Hatake of what would have been a RBI extra base hit.
With both starters done after seven frames, it became a battle of the bullpens, and as every man and his dog who knows shit about baseball in Japan knows, ours is simply superior. Ondrusek allowed a single and a walk in the 8th but didn’t let that stop him from putting up a customary zero, while Barnette made light work of the BayStars 3-4-5 guys in the top of the 9th.
And so to the bottom of the 9th, which saw Yuhei get on to lead off the inning with an infield single. He was bunted to second by Ueda, before Imanami almost ran out an infield single of his own, but was out by the narrowest of margins following a grounder to short, leaving Yuhei at third with one out now separating the teams from extra innings. Up stepped Nakamura, who got hold of a low outside curve ball, chipping it over the infield to right to set off sayonara celebrations, 2-1 Tokyo Final.
- With Hanshin winning and Yomiuri losing to Hiroshima, the Swallows remain in 1st, 0.5 games ahead of the 2nd placed Tigers. Yomiuri are now 1.5 games out in 3rd, while the Carp sit just 3 games behind Tokyo in 4th. 15 games now remain (for Tokyo). Exciting. Times.
- A healthy Tuesday crowd of just shy of 20,000 came out to see this one.
- Tonight was originally touted as Coco Balentien’s return to the top team, but instead we got Dening. The latest estimates have him returning around the 18th.
- The two teams will meet again tomorrow night, before the Swallows get a night off before a key seven game stretch which will see them at home to Yomiuri for two, on the road at Hanshin for two, before returning to Jingu for two games against Hiroshima and a solitary game against Yokohama.
- Tomorrow night’s starters will be Ishikawa vs Below.