October 17th, 2015
Yomiuri Giants 2
Tokyo Swallows 3
Swallows Win Series 4-1
(Meiji Jingu Stadium)
Your Tokyo Swallows put the finishing touches on the final stage of the Central League playoffs and the final nail in the coffin of Hara’s 12-year stint as manager of Yomiuri.
|W: Sugiura (1-0)
L: Poreda (0-1) S: Barnette (2 S)
And this one was a prototypical win by the birds; nurse a small lead into the second half of the game and ask Tokyo’s amazing relief corps to shut the door.
|1||Tateoka (CF)||1||Hiyane (CF)|
|2||Ibata (2B)||2||Kawabata (3B)|
|3||Sakamoto (SS)||3||Yamada (2B)|
|4||Abe (1B)||4||Hatakeyama (1B)|
|5||C***o (RF)||5||Balentien (LF)|
|6||Kamei (LF)||6||Yuhei (RF)|
|7||Murata (3B)||7||Ohbiki (SS)
|8||Katoh (C)||8||Nakamura (C)|
|9||Poreda (P)||9||Sugiura (P)|
It is impossible to overstate the immensity of tonight’s victory. Tokyo last faced Yomiuri in the post-season when Jingu Stadium hosted the first stage of the 2011 Central League Climax Series. The Birds won that short series 2-1, but as recently as last year the Swallows were riddled with injuries and spent a second consecutive season as master of the CL cellar. Incidentally, Tokyo didn’t win another playoff series after that, losing both the 2011 second stage and 2012 first stage in Nagoya.
Everything went Tokyo’s way in the first inning. Tokyo starter, Sugiura, making his post-season debut, induced three outfield pop flies on six pitches to whip through the first third of the Giants lineup. Then in the bottom of that inning, Hiyane doubled on Poreda’s 0-1 slider, and he reached third safely on another Yomiuri fielder’s choice blunder when Kawabata hit one back to the pitcher. He scored three pitches later on Yamada’s looper to shallow right that Ibata couldn’t manage to glove.
Hatakeyama drew a full count walk to load the bases and bring Balentien into the equation with no outs. Balentien hit into a 6-4-3 double play, but Kawabata scored in the process. Yuhei hit one to the warning track to end the inning and strand Yamada on third.
The Birds scored a crucial insurance run in the bottom of the second. Ohbiki reached first on a Murata error at third to start things off, and Nakamura moved him over to second with a surprise Tak-bunt (the Swallows don’t bunt much this year, thankfully). Sugiura moved him over to third with a grounder to the pitcher, and Ohbiki reached home on Hiyane’s single to center on a high 3-2 heater.
Thank you Mr. Murata, we couldn’t have done that without you. You always were our favorite Giant, if there is such a thing.
Sugiura finally allowed a pair of runs, the first ones scored by Yomiuri since Wednesday, in the top of the fifth. A Donoue single and Tateoka double were followed by Abe’s 11th and final hit of the series (all singles). Both runners scored.
That made the home fans a bit nervous, and the fact that Tokyo’s offense went three and done nearly every inning for the rest of the game only made things worse.
So it was left, once again, to the bullpen to power the team the rest of the way to the W. Roman started and Kyuko ended a scoreless sixth inning. Kyuko came back out for the start of the seventh and was briefly replaced by Akiyoshi before Ondrusek was called upon to do some heavy lifting. He cleaned up the seventh by getting Abe to ground into an inning-ending double play, and then he retired all three batters he faced in the eighth (13 pitches over one and two-thirds innings).
And of course Barnette came out to seal the deal in the ninth. He got Anderson to strike out swinging, and then secured the second out by barehanding a high Sanematsu hopper and rifling it to first. Out number three, and the one that started the celebration, arrived when Tony fanned Takahashi on a full count.
Suigiura threw 83 pitches over five innings of work. He allowed two earned runs from six hits while striking out two, walking one, and beaning C***o. He got the win and some valuable playoff experience which will hopefully prove useful next week.
So, have you signed up for the Japan Series ticket lottery yet? Tokyo’s next game will be played in Fukuoka against the Softbank Hawks on Saturday October 24th.
- Hiyane was Tokyo’s biggest offensive threat today. Getting his first post-season start in place of Ueda whose bat has gone cold, Hiyane was 2-4 with one RBI.
- Kawabata, despite going hitless for the first time in the series, won the series MVP award. He finished the four game series with a .476 batting average.
- If these four games are added to the season series tally between these two teams, then Tokyo came out on top 16-14.
- The game lasted two hours and 58 minutes. It was followed by a beer-spraying party on the field.
- 34,038 tickets were sold for this contest.
- Both Japan Series teams will be led by first-year managers.