May 7th, 2016
Hanshin Tigers 6
Streak: Won 1 Last 5: WLLLW
Today marked Perez’s first day in the rotation. The big question, of course, was whether he could hit his spots and earn another start.
|W: Akiyoshi (1-1-0); L: Dolis (1-1-0)|
The game ended up being a race to see which starter could inflate his ERA past 10 the quickest.
|1||Sakaguchi (CF)||1||Takayama (LF)|
|2||Kawabata (3B)||2||Yamato (2B)|
|3||Yamada (2B)||3||Toritani (SS)|
|4||Balentien (LF)||4||Gomez (1B)|
|5||Yuhei (RF)||5||Egoshi (CF)|
|6||Hatakeyama (1B)||6||Itayama (RF)|
|7||Ohbiki (SS)||7||Haraguchi (C)|
|8||Nakamura (C)||8||Houjou (3B)|
|9||Perez (LHP)||9||Fujikawa (RHP)|
|RP||Muranaka (L), Akiyoshi (R), Lueke (R), Matsuoka (R), Ondrusek (R)||RP||Enokida (R), Takahashi (L), Dolis (R), Takamiya (L), Ishizaki (R), Andoh (R)|
Fujikawa put in a decent performance in his last start against Yokohama at the end of April. Only one out shy of seven full frames and just one run surrendered. He took the loss there though, and he didn’t get off to a great start this afternoon in sunny Hyogo Prefecture.
Sakaguchi started with a six-pitch walk, and one out later Yamada got the same result on seven pitches.
Balentien took the first pitch he saw before belting pitch number two into the stands for home run number nine on the season.
Fujikawa expended 43 pitches to get through the first inning.
Fujikawa looked sharper in the second, striking out Nakamura and Perez without venturing deep into the count. But then Sakaguchi kept the bat on his shoulder and let Fujikawa deal him another walk (five pitches). The good times continued when Kawabata singled to left on a highly-visible “shoot,” but Yamada struck out swinging on a jumpy cutter to end the threat.
Fujikawa’s pitch count through two frames: 65.
Perez struck out both Yamato and Toritani looking to end the first in impressive fashion. He gave up his first hit of the game in the second (Gomez single) and then followed that with a four-pitch walk for Egoshi. It was pretty typical Perez for you. Yanking Nakamura’s left arm out of its socket one moment and then sliders hitting the edges the next.
With two on, Perez got Itayama to pop up to first and then struck Haraguchi out on a nasty 2-2 slider. Hojoh popped out to right to strand both runners.
Perez’s pitch count through two: 36
Balentien started the third by manufacturing a double that made center fielder, Egoshi, look pretty damn foolish. His soft slice to the right of center was met by a slightly less urgent than necessary run and throw, and Balentien took advantage by sprinting to second. The throw was off the mark, and Balentien was safe by a hair.
Yuhei then crushed a 2-1 slider which ended up clearing the wall in center. It was his second homer of the year.
Perez started to show the limits on his stamina in the third. He beaned the first batter he faced (pinch-hitting for Fujikawa), and then he plunked Takayama as well. Takatsu made his first mound visit of the game to try and settle him down, and it seemed to work for a bit because three of the next four pitches were strikes.
But then Perez tried to pick the guy off at second and threw errantly into center field. Now with runners on second and third, Yamato hit a sac fly to right which pushed Hanshin’s first runner across home plate.
Toritani followed with a full count walk, and Gomez singled on a Perez fastball to bring in a second run.
Run number three scored on a slow grounder to short which got the force at second.
He got out of the inning thanks to some Balentien heroics in foul territory. He went full on horizontal to grab that ball before it touched the carpet, ending the inning in the process.
You should have seen the disbelief on Itayama’s face when it became clear that Balentien did indeed have the ball in his glove!
Enokida took the mound for Hanshin to start the fourth, and he started by walking Perez (with a little help from the umpire). The umpire made up for it by widening the strike zone against Sakaguchi (who struck out looking at three pitches), and Perez was forced out at second on Kawabata’s ground ball. Yamada grounded out to short to end the inning.
Perez started the fourth having thrown 61 pitches, and he gave up a lead-off single to Haraguchi three pitches later. Perez started missing wildly again after that, and Hojoh took a free base. Enokida bunted the runners over safely, and Perez fought back with a full count Takayama K.
But Yamato erased all hope of a Perez win with a single to left that scored two.
Perez maintained his calm and collected demeanor throughout, but he walked Toritani on seven pitches and put another runner in scoring position.
And that was the end for Perez. He finished with four strikeouts, four walks, and two HBP.
Welcome to the game, Mr. Muranaka. He struck Gomez out to send the game to the fifth.
Muranaka started the next inning well. He induced lots of forceful check swings that turned pitches in the dirt into strikes. However, in addition to striking out two batters, he walked one and gave up a single to center which put runners on the corners. He got out of the inning when he snagged a comebacker to the mound and completed a 1-3 groundout.
The tie scoreline endured until the top of the seventh when things went a little crazy.
Yuhei drew a walk from reliever Dolis with one out, and then Hatakeyama and Ohbiki followed with singles to load the bases. Nakamura hit a grounder to second, but a fielding error allowed Yuhei to score, and all runners were safe.
Pinch hitter, Imanami, single to left which brought home another run, and Sakaguchi smacked one to center which scored one more.
Lefty Takamiya took the mound to face Kawabata with the bases still loaded. The result was a single to center which scored two.
Three changes were made to the Swallows lineup for the bottom of the eighth. Matsuoka took the mound and promptly gave up a solo home run to Haraguchi. Hiyane watched the ball sail over his head in left where he had just subbed in for Balentien. Takeuchi covered up some of the dirt divots left by Hatakeyama before him as Hanshin’s catcher rounded the bases after his second home run of the season.
Matsuoka then got out of the inning by relying on the guys behind him.
Ondrusek came on to protect the four run advantage in the ninth. He induced three harmless pop flies from Yamato, Toritani, and Gomez to seal the deal on 10 pitches.
That leveled the season series with Hanshin at three wins each (one draw), and the Swallows can take the lead tomorrow with another win.
Akiyoshi got his first win of the season and was crowned game MVP.
First pitch tomorrow is at 2 PM.