April 22nd, 2016
Chunichi Dragons 11
Streak: Lost 1 Last 5: WWLWL
The Swallows took their first trip of 2016 to the bland confines of the Nagoya Dome. A bit of Tokyo pride rested on this match-up. (How on Earth are the Dragons in second? What happened to the nascent dynasty about which I so foolishly boasted all winter? Would recent successes continue?)
Today’s question, of course: Masanori Ishikawa had alternated between good and evil in his four previous starts. Would the pattern be broken? Would Ishikawa notch a second consecutive Dragon-slaying?
|W: Wakamatsu (3-1-0); L: Ishikawa (2-3-0)|
Alas, it was a pitching mess.
|1||Sakaguchi (CF)||1||Oshima (CF)|
|2||Kawabata (3B)||2||Araki (2B)|
|3||Yamada (2B)||3||Takahashi (3B)|
|4||Balentien (LF)||4||Viciedo (1B)|
|5||Yuhei (RF)||5||Nanita (LF)|
|6||Imanari (1B)||6||Hirata (RF)|
|7||Obiki (SS)||7||Donoue (SS)|
|8||Nakamura (C)||8||Sugiyama (C)|
|9||Ishikawa (LHP)||9||Wakamatsu (RHP)|
|RP||Matsuoka (R), Kazahari (R), Perez (L), Kyuko (L)||RP||Okada (L), Matayoshi (R), Sobue (R), Iwase (L), Tajima (R), Fukutani (R)|
Bottom of the first. Oshima led off with a single and advanced to third on an Araki hit-and-run. Takahashi then drove him in with a single to left. Viciedo walked to load the bases, which set up Nanita for an RBI single. Hirata came up next and, despite making contact with almost every pitch, managed to get an RBI BB.
Yep, Ishikawa had such a remarkably shitty start that he walked in a run – the third – before managing out.
Not impressed. Dononue got up to bat and smacked an RBI single to left right quick. Sugiyama followed and singled easily, but Tokyo’s fielders fell off the Ishikawa bandwagon and managed to nab Nanita at home. An out!
A second out came when Wakamatus came up to bat and at least had the decency to comically throw himself off-balance with every big swing. Then, finally, Oshima grounded out. Sometimes in baseball, the most routine play can be a thing of transcendent joy. The inning was over! 4-0 Chunichi.
Ishikawa has always seemed to feel most at home when digging himself out of a pit. Would the Birds be able to construct the necessary extension ladder of runs for a victory?
Top of the third. Sakaguchi led off with a line-drive single to center. Wakamatsu then tried to take on Tokyo’s two award-winning bats by throwing low and away, walking them both to load the bases with no outs. Trying to work Coco int he same way resulted in a deep single to center-right, driving in two runs, leaving men on the corners. Yuhei then added a rung by bringing Yamada home standing up on a pop fly to deep center-right.
Wakamatsu bounced a pitch to Imanari off the plate and over Sugiyama’s head, allowing Balentien to trundle to second. Coco made it to third when Sugiyama grounded out. Keiji “Fuck Yeah!” Obiki (That was his nickname at Hosei) then drove Tokyo’s favorite Antillean home, tying the game. Obiki made it to second on another bad pitch. Nakamura nearly made things really exciting, but popped out right to the wall. We’ll take it. 4-4. Phew!
Bottom of the third. Ishikawa was not about to let the Swallows’ offensive barrage interfere with his dismal performance. Nanita doubled, reaching third on a Hirata grounder back to the mound. Donoue walked. Sugiyama hit an RBI single to center. Wakamatsu then advanced both runners with a sac-bunt. Ishikawa then walked Oshima to load the bases, which – thank fucking Cthulhu – finally ended his shitshow of a night.
Matsuoka took the mound for the Swallows. Araki, Matsuoka’s first hitter, drove a sneaky grounder through the gap at second, driving in a pair of runs. Luckily, Oshima got caught between first and second to end the inning. 7-4 Chunichi.
Ren Kazahari came in to pitch in the bottom of the fourth, making his second appearance of the season for Tokyo.
Bottom of the fifth. Kazahari tried to work the outside edge against Hirata, but it didn’t work. Home run. Dononue followed that singling, then scoring on a Sugiyama triple arising from a defensive clusterfuck behind third. Thankfully, a few ground-outs ended the inning. 9-4 Chunichi.
Top of the sixth. Obiki hit a towering double to start the side. Nakamura walked on four straight pitches. Hiroyasu Tanaka came in to pinch-hit. I’ve always liked that guy. He popped out on a diving catch, but that ended Wakamatsu’s outing, which was not as good as the scoreboard would show.
Toshiya Okada took the mound for the home team to face Sakaguchi. Tokyo’s center-fielder hit a pop fly to deep center, which allowed Obiki to score. 9-5 Chunichi.
Bottom of the sixth. Perez came on to hurl for Tokyo. He walked Viciedo and gave up an RBI double to Hirata. 10-5 Chunichi.
Top of the seventh, one out. Balentien managed a double by hauling ass to second and narrowly beating the tag. That’s comment-worthy in and of itself. He then made it to third on a Yuhei ground-out. Imanari came up. . . and nothing.
Top of the eighth. Sobue took over pitching duties for Chunichi. He walked Obiki, gave up a single to Nakamura, and got yanked for Iwase.
Yes, the same Iwase.
No, he doesn’t have a son who has gone pro.
Takeuchi came in to pinch-hit and singled, but Nakamura got caught at second in a near-double-play. Sakaguchi grounded out, driving Obiki in. 10-6 Chunichi.
Bottom of the eighth. Takahashi tripled. Viciedo drove him in. Tani came in to run. 11-6 Chunichi, Final.