October 4th, 2008
Hanshin Tigers 2
Tokyo Swallows 2
Streak: Drawn 1 Last 5: WWLWD
Tokyo continued to be the spanner in the work of the pennant pushing Tigers, as bullpens took centre stage and the two teams couldn’t be separated over 12 innings and nearly four hours of baseball.
Rookie Katoh was a surprise starter for Yakult, and he did much better than many had feared when his name was announced. He went 4 innings, giving up two runs off five hits before the bullpen took over.
Things looked bleak in the top of the 1st, with two hits and a walk followed by a sacrifice fly from Imaoka putting the Tigers up 1-0. But Katoh escaped the inning without more damage being done, before the Swallows took the lead in the bottom of the 1st. Hatakeyama brought home two runs on a single through the middle off Hanshin starter Shimoyanagi to edge Tokyo ahead 1-2.
The Tigers tied things up in the top of the 4th, with three hits yielding just the one run, and again Katoh was a little fortunate to escape the inning with just the one run coming home.
And so it was to the bullpen, and to Matsui (5th and 6th), Kida (7th), Matsuoka (8th and 9th), Igarashi (10th) and Oshimoto (11th and 12th) who gave up just three more hits and struck out six between them as they stifled the Hanshin bats.
Unfortunately, unlike last night’s implosion, the Hanshin bullpen proved equally adept as Atchison, Fujikawa, Williams and Watanabe held Yakult to just one more hit over 7 innings.
The two teams meet for game three of the four game series on Sunday evening.