April 23rd, 2016
Chunichi Dragons 5
Streak: Won 1 Last 5: WLWLW
Everything is still very tight in the Central League standings, and your birds managed to keep themselves firmly in the mix with a come-from-behind win in hostile territory.
|W: Perez (1-1: 5.19 ERA); L: Iwase (0-1; 6.75)
S: Ondrusek (4S; 6.75)
We’ve come to expect our Saturday starter to give up a bunch of runs early, but Ishikawa started yesterday’s game (seven earned runs in two and two thirds innings). A stronger start looked to be in the offing with Ogawa making a thus far rare weekend appearance thanks to the rainout earlier in the week.
|1||Sakaguchi (CF)||1||Oshima (CF)|
|2||Kawabata (3B)||2||Donoue (SS)|
|3||Yamada (2B)||3||Takahashi (3B)|
|4||Balentien (LF)||4||Viciedo (1B)|
|5||Yuhei (RF)||5||Nanita (LF)|
|6||Obiki (SS)||6||Hirata (RF)|
|7||Takeuchi (1B)||7||Hernandez (2B)|
|8||Nakamura (C)||8||Katsura (C)|
|9||Ogawa (RHP)||9||Yoshimi (RHP)|
|RP||Akiyoshi (R), Muranaka (L), Perez (L), Ondrusek (R)||RP||Okada (L), Matayoshi (R), Tajima (R), Fukutani (R), Iwase (L)|
But not really.
Chunichi got on the board first care of a Nanita single to left with runners on the corners. Donoue scored from third.
Yamada pulled the Swallows level with a solo home run in the third inning on a 1-1 slider with two outs.
Ogawa retired the side on 13 pitches in the second, but Oshima rang in the third with a triple to right on a high 0-2 heater.
Donoue whiffed on an outside 1-1 cutter, but that ended up just being a warm-up swing. Ogawa gave him the exact same pitch again at 1-2, and Donoue worked a single to right, bringing Oshima home in the process.
One out later, Viciedo smacked a double to center which scored Donoue from first, and Nanita pulled a 1-0 curveball into the right field bleachers.
Ogawa lasted five full frames and was replaced on offense in the bottom of the sixth when the Swallows would finally send Yoshimi packing.
Yuhei and Obiki both hit one out singles, and the former came home on Takeuchi’s single to center. A Chunichi throwing error allowed Obiki and Takeuchi to take an extra base. Nakamura responded with a sac fly to right which was enough for Obiki to tag up and score from third.
Kawabata struck out with the bases loaded, but even so it felt like we had ourselves a game again.
Tokyo applied some pressure in the top of the eighth, loading the bases with one out. But Chunichi’s Tajima wriggled free and the difference remained two.
Fukutani took the mound to try and get the save in the top of the ninth, and he started well by getting Yamada to strike out swinging. However, Balentien applied some pressure by whacking a low 1-0 fastball into the stands in right.
Yuhei popped out to left for the second out, but Obiki drew a four pitch walk, and that was it for Fukutani. Veteran closer, Iwase, took the mound for Chunichi, and Araki came in to pinch hit for Takeuchi. Araki responded with a single to right, and then Nakamura wasted no time in sending the first pitch he saw over the wall in left bring everyone home.
Ondrusek walked a pesky Morino in the bottom of the ninth to get things started, Sugiyama came in to pinch run for him. Journeyman Kudo (he played for Nippon Ham, Yomiuri, and Lotte before landing with the Dragons) made things interesting by knocking the first pitch he saw into left. The tying run was now standing on first.
Kudo was thrown out at second on Oshima’s grounder, but runners were now on the corners with one out. Ondrusek struck Donoue out on three pitches, bringing golden boy, Takahashi, to the plate.
Ondrusek fed him a cutter and then six straight forkballs, resulting in a strikeout and save number four.
Nakamura was the day’s clutch performer with a 3-4 stat line (sac fly, HR, 4 RBI). Kawabata and Balentien also had a pair of hits with the former adding his fifth home run of the season. He is now in third place in the CL standings behind teammate Yamada who is joint-second with six. Gomez (Hanshin) and Tsutsugo (Yokohama) are tied for first with seven dingers apiece.
Tokyo’s bullpen blanked the Dragons for four innings to help give the team a shot late in the game. Akiyoshi (11 appearances; 3.86 ERA), Muranaka (10 apps; 2.03), and Perez (8 apps; 5.19).
Perez was able to watch a win materialize after pitching a perfect eighth. It was the first of his Tokyo career.
The Swallows will attempt to win the series tomorrow. Hara will take the mound against Chunichi’s Naylor. First pitch is scheduled for 2 PM.