September 29th, 2016
Yokohama BayStars 6
Streak: Won 2 Last 5: LLLWW
With last night’s loss, the BayStars had locked in their spot in the CL standings. The focus of tonight’s game was squarely on Daisuke Miura’s last start. For 25 years Miura was a fixture in Yokohama and his loyalty to his team and its fans has earned our respect. Unlike many retirement games in Japanese baseball that last just one at bat, Miura was looking to actually win the game and extend his streak of 23 straight years with a win. The Swallows had a responsibility to not lay down and to give their best to Miura and make him earn that win.
|W: Ishiyama (1-0)
L: Miura (0-3)
|1||Tomotaka Sakaguchi (CF)||1||Masayuki Kuwahara (CF)|
|2||Shingo Kawabata (1B)||2||Takayuki Kajitani (RF)|
|3||Tetsuto Yamada (2B)||3||Jose Lopez (1B)|
|4||Wladimir Balentien (LF)||4||Yoshitomo Tsutsugo (LF)|
|5||Yuhei (Takai) (RF)||5||Toshiro Miyazaki (3B)|
|6||Naomichi Nishiura (3B)||6||Elian (Herrera) (2B)|
|7||Taishi Hirooka (SS)||7||Toshihiko Kuramoto (SS)|
|8||Akihisa Nishida (C)||8||Shuto Takajo (C)|
|9||Toshihiro Sugiura (P)||9||Daisuke Miura (P)|
Miura is only a year removed from a season in which he won six games (three off the Swallows) but the Miura of 2016 had clearly lost a step. Sakaguchi and Kawabata lead off the game with back-to-back singles to put men on the corners with no outs. Yamada grounded into a double play back to Miura that was enough to score Sakaguchi. 1-0 Swallows
The BayStars tied it right up in the bottom of the inning as Kajitani put a 2-1 Sugiura offering into the left field stands. 1-1 All
Yuhei lead off the second inning with a double and Nishida followed one out later with a single to put men on the corners. 19 year old Taishi Hirooka came up to take his first top team at bat against the 42 year old Miura. Hirooka took Miura’s second pitch and launched it into the left field stands. 4-1 Swallows Hirooka became the first high school draftee in Swallows history to start his career with a home run.
While the homerun would’ve been a nice symbolic changing of the guard, the game got more complicated. Herrera lead off the bottom of the second with a solo shot to center. 4-2 Swallows Sugiura got fly outs from Kuramoto and Takajo. Miura stepped up to bat and slashed a hit to center. Kuwahara followed with single to put men on the corners. Kajitani brought the men home with a deep double. 4-4 All Sugiura was pulled for Ishiyama to face Lopez. Ishiyama couldn’t stop the flow as he gave up a homer to Lopez. 6-4 BayStars
Things settled down as Miura pitched a perfect third and Ishiyama settled down for a two-hit scoreless inning.
Things got hot in the fourth as Yuhei lead off the inning with a double off the left field wall. Nishiura walked and Nishida cashed in Yuhei with a double to left. 6-5 BayStars Miura got back-to-back strikeouts off of Hiroka and Iihara. But Miura walked Sakaguchi to load the bases. Kawabata followed with a deep double to right-center to score two. Sakaguchi tried to score but was narrowly thrown out at the plate. 7-6 Swallows
Tateyama (!) came in for Ishiyama in the fourth and pitched a scoreless inning. Miura pitched a perfect fifth inning but Tateyama pitched another scoreless inning to keep the Swallows in the lead. The pressure was on Miura to keep pitching and hope that the BayStars offense could crack the Swallows bullpen so he could get his W.
Nishiura lead off the sixth inning with a single and he stole second base. Nishida drew a walk and Hirooka flared a single to right field to load the bases. Miwa came in to hit for Tateyama and he blooped a single to center for a run. 8-6 Swallows Sakaguchi flied out to shallow right field and Kawabata grounded out to a nifty fielders choice to Herrera to keep the Swallows off the board. Yamada took a hanging breaking ball deep off the left field wall for a double to score two. 10-6 Swallows Miura got Ugumori to fly out but it was clear the end was near for the legend.
Miura came up to bat misty eyed in the bottom of the inning and flew out to center. Kuwahara walked but got doubled off on a liner double play to first to end the inning. Many assumed that Miura’s at bat was his final act as a player so the crowd gave a shocked reaction as he took the mound to start the seventh. Things reverted back to the usual retirement script as Yuhei dutifully struck out to three straight fast balls and Miura personally handed the ball off to Kaga. With the emotion of Miura’s departure still in the air, the crowd was further deflated as Nishiura hit a home run into the left field stands. 11-6 Swallows
The Swallows bullpen relay of Muranaka, Matsuoka, and Akiyoshi held and the Swallows got their second win in as many nights. 11-6 Swallows FINAL
The BayStars did their end of season ceremonies and speeches before they gave Miura the mic and gave him a very classy send off. The Swallows remained on the field for the ceremonies and Ishikawa presented Miura with flowers on behalf of the the team. Miura started his victory lap around the stadium in front of the Swallows bench and shook the hand of each player before he continued around the stadium shaking the hands of as many fans as he could.