June 3rd, 2016
Tokyo Swallows 4
Streak: Lost 3 Last 5: LWLLL
(Meiji Jingu Stadium)
It was a beautiful evening for 6th-place baseball at our second home, Jingu Stadium. So beautiful, in fact, that the Tsubamegun Crew decided to sit behind home plate for a change. Unfortunately, the improved vantage point did nothing to right the wrongness of the team’s pitching. Indeed, it looks pretty sketchy from just about any angle.
Intriguing story line of the evening: would Sakaguchi exact revenge on the team that cut him last off-season? (Scroll down to the bottom of this post for the answer.)
|W: Yoshida (2-0-1); L: Lueke (2-2-0); S: Hirano (1-3-10)|
|1||Kojima (CF)||1||Ohbiki (SS)|
|2||Nishino (2B)||2||Sakaguchi (CF)|
|3||Itoi (RF)||3||Yamada (2B)|
|4||T. Okada (1B)||4||Balentien (LF)|
|5||Koyano (3B)||5||Kawabata (3B)|
|6||Bogusevic (LF)||6||Hatakeyama (1B)|
|7||Adachi (SS)||7||Yuhei (RF)|
|8||Yamazaki (C)||8||Nakamura (C)|
|9||Tohmei (RHP)||9||Ogawa (RHP)|
|RP||Yoshida (R), Tsukahara (R), Hirano (R)||RP||Lueke (R), Muranaka (L)|
Ogawa started for the good guys and got off to a typically 2016 start. Orix attacked early in the count and were aggressive on the base paths but were perhaps unlucky to get only one run from their efforts.
The second innings was more of the same. A pair of hits resulted in run number two.
Your Swallows finally concocted a response in the bottom of the third. Ohbiki doubled with one out, and Yamada drew a walk with two. Then Balentien lined one so hard past second base that the defender’s glove turned just about inside-out and the ball rolled toward center field. That was enough to bring Ohbiki home from second.
With runners on the corners, Kawabata ripped one hard into the gap in right, good for a triple and two more RBI (Balentien scored from first).
But then the Swallows offense took a four-inning breather. A walk each in the fourth and sixth was all they could muster.
Regardless, Ogawa was able to protect the lead through the seventh, and Lueke came on to deal with eighth.
It didn’t go well.
The first two batters walked, and then Bogusevic doubled the 3-1 offering to left. Two runs scored. One out later, pinch-hitter Itoh dribbled one past the outstretched Ohbiki, and Bogugsevic scored from third.
Tokyo threatened mightily in the eighth, but 6th place baseball eventually prevailed. Yamada led off with a double after a nine pitch battle with reliever, Tsukahara, and Balentien brought him home with a single to left on a 2-1 forkball.
Hiyane replaced Balentien on first, and he reached third with some ballsy running on Kawabata’s bouncer over the third baseman’s head. Tsukahara then issued a four-pitch walk to Hatakeyama. Bases juiced, no outs. Surely another run is going to score, right?
Cue Yuhei and some quintessential 6th place baseball.
Orix’s closer Hirano made an early appearance, and Yuhei did his bit to ease the visitors’ nerves by carefully bouncing the first pitch he saw right at the drawn-in second baseman. That led to a pregame warmups style 4-2-3 double play. Imanami grounded out to second in Nakamura’s stead to essentially drown all hope.
Ohbiki singled with one out in the ninth, but Sakaguchi grounded into a game-ending 5-4-3 double play to delight the sparse Orix faithful.
Ogawa didn’t factor in the decision, but he threw 122 pitches over seven full frames. It was the first time he went seven since April 30th against Yomiuri, which also happens to be the last time that he won. He allowed two earned runs from eight hits, struck out four, and walked one. It was a welcome move in the right direction for Ogawa who has allowed at least five earned runs in his last two starts.
It took Lueke 33 pitches to get through the eighth.
Yamanaka starts for the birds tomorrow afternoon against the Buffs’ Yamasaki.
1st pitch is slated for 2 PM.
- The posh seats offer an improved view, but you end up sitting near lots of people who don’t know or care a whole lot about baseball. The food options are also better, but fans are surprisingly undisciplined about where they light up. We will happily return to our humble digs in the outfield starting tomorrow afternoon.
- Orix bunted a man on second over to third three times this evening (1st, 2nd, and 8th innings). The runner scored all three times.
- Ogawa has gotten an ND in each of his last four starts.
- Kawabata looked sharp tonight. He was 3-4 with five total bases (1B, 3B, F7, 1B) and two RBI.
- Ohbiki is doing a decent job as the team’s new leadoff hitter, but unfortunately Sakaguchi is developing a habit of leaving him hanging. Ohbiki was 2-5, but Sakaguchi was 0-4 with a walk.
- Balentien deserves credit for his two punishing singles that scored a run each. He also got on his horse when Kawabata tripled in the third inning, scoring all the way from first.
- The 6-8 portion of Tokyo’s lineup was largely ineffective tonight with only a pair of walks to show for the starting crew’s 11 plate appearances.