October 29th, 2015
Tokyo Swallows 0
Series: Tokyo 1-4 Fukuoka
(Meiji Jingu Stadium)
Do or die for the Swallows tonight. Then tomorrow. And the day after that.
The odds were against your Birds, Tokyoites. Tetsuto Yamada whaled on the Hawks by himself on Tuesday, but so far the Philistines have not been felled by his stones. This time there are, like, a dozen Goliaths, though.
For historical context, if not solace, the Swallows’ last three Japan Series appearances – 1995, 1997, and 2001 – resulted in Game 5 victories. We’re in the opposite situation this time.
In 1993, they were up 3-1 going into Game 5, which they lost, going on to beat the Lions in seven.
But they were down 3 -1 to Seibu in 1992. Ha! And they lost in seven. Balls.
1978? Just to mention all six Series appearances. Tied 2 -2 with the Hankyu Braves (later the Orix Blue Wave, whom Tokyo beat in 1995, now the Orix Buffaloes). They went on to win in seven.
OK, so no precise historical analogy. In fact, no history of coming from behind in the Japan Series.
The last team down 3 -1 was Hokkaido in 2007. They lost Game 5 to Chunichi.
2003 (Daiei Hawks over Hanshin Tigers) went seven games. Before that, the last seven-game Series were Yakult vs. Seibu in 1992 and 1993.
|W: Standridge (1-0-0); L: Ishikawa (0-2-0)|
|1||Kawashima (LF)||1||Ueda (CF)|
|2||Akashi (2B)||2||Kawabata (3B)|
|3||Yanagida (CF)||3||Yamada (2B)|
|4||Lee (1B)||4||Hatakeyama (1B)|
|5||Matsuda (3B)||5||Balentien (LF)|
|6||Nakamura (RF)||6||Imanari (SS)|
|7||Imamiya (SS)||7||Yuhei (RF)|
|8||Tsuruoka (C)||8||Nakamura (C)|
|9||Standridge (P)||9||Ishikawa (P)|
|RP||Mori, Barrios, Sarfate||RP||Ishiyama, Akiyoshi, Ondrusek, Barnette|
No joy in Mudville. Such is the nature of finals that, despite this being the Swallows’ best showing since yours truly began watching them in 2001 and 2015 being by far the best campaign this blog has documented, we are left feeling somewhat bereft.
Not as bad as it could be, though. To be fair, this year’s Hawks were an unusually good team – clearly heavy favorites in the Japan Series. Tokyo saw impressive individual achievements by Tetsuto Yamada, Shingo Kawabata, and Tony Barnette among others this season. Mitsuru Manaka showed he could get the job done at the helm as well. All in all, 2015 was a season of which Tokyoites can be proud and one which left us with hope for next year. The Swallows are a healthy, youthful, cohesive team that can hang with anyone (except the freakish Hawks).
Congrats to Fukuoka. (Someone call WADA.) We look forward to besting you guys next year.
To the Tsubamegun: Congrats, back-slaps, and hugs to you all. For eight years, you’ve shared some low lows with us. David, Christopher, Kozo, Dan, and I really enjoyed the opportunity to celebrate with you all as well. Here’s to the start of an era of powerful teams and more celebrations.
Until the spring, tobidase in whatever you do in the offseason.
(Yes, yes, I know how awkward that was.)
The excitement came in the fourth, with the first runs of the game. Akashi doubled, then reached third on a Yanagida grounder to second. Lee Dae-ho, who will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today, hit a shot over the left field foul pole. Much video review later, it was decided that J. Wellington Wimpy had cracked a two-run homer, which set the pace for the rest of the game. 2-0 Fukuoka.
In the end, 5-0 Fukuoka, Final.
(Details to be fleshed out. For now, have at it with the comments.)