6/26/10 – Hanshin (Home)

June 26th, 2010

Hanshin Tigers 2

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 4

Streak: Won 1   Last 5: LWLLW

(Meiji Jingu Stadium)

The Swallows leveled the current series against Hanshin with a come from behind win this afternoon at Jingu stadium.

Helping with the heroics in today’s game was new acquisition, Whitesell.

Today’s lineup:

1. Aoki CF
2. Tanaka 2B
3. Iihara RF
4. D’Antona 1B
5. Whitesell LF
6. Kawamoto C
7. Miyamoto 3B
8. Onizaki SS
9. Ishikawa P

As you can see, Iihara was moved up into the three-hole while Whitesell followed D’Antona to help solidify the cleanup. Kawamoto gave Aikawa the day off behind the plate.

The first half of this contest slipped by without too much fanfare. Hanshin managed only one hit off of Tokyo starter, Ishikawa, while the Swallows collected only two (off of Tsuru), during the first four innings of play.

Hanshin got on the board first in the top of the fifth care of an Asai RBI single that scored Brazell. 1-0 Hanshin.

But the birds were able to level things in the bottom of that inning when Aoki’s two out double was followed by a walk (Tanaka) and an Iihara RBI double. 1-1.

Hanshin, however, would pull ahead again in the top of the seventh after Ishikawa had fanned his fifth batter of the game for the first out of the inning. With his pitch count at 96, Masubuchi was brought in and inherited Ishikawa’s runner (walk) on first base.

Masubuchi promptly allowed singles to the next two batters he faced to load the bases, and then Ishikawa’s runner was able to scamper home on a wild pitch. 2-1 Hanshin.

Masubuchi got out of the inning by striking out the next two batters he faced.

But the damage had been done. The Swallows weren’t able to get anything until the bottom of the eighth when Tanaka started things off with a single. Iihara then turned the tables on the visitors by hitting the first pitch he saw, a fastball, over the fence in right. 3-2 Tokyo.

Whitesell then staked his claim on another start tomorrow with a homer of his own (0-1 slider) to give Tokyo’s closer, Lim, a little bit of a cushion. 4-2 Tokyo.

Not that Lim would need it. With nice catches by Tanaka and Iihara sandwiching a Brazell strikeout, Lim had himself a 1-2-3 inning and his 13th save of the season.

Matsuoka got the win for the Swallows on the back of his one inning of eight-pitch work in which he retired the first third of the Hanshin lineup. His ERA dropped to 0.93 while claiming his first win of 2010.

Ishikawa once again missed out on a win despite a decent performance. He allowed only three hits and two walks during his six and a third innings on the mound. The one wild pitch notwithstanding, those five runners over more than six innings are about as well as he’s done all season of keeping opposing batters off the basepaths. And if not for that Masubuchi wild pitch, he might not have been tagged with that second earned run.

Iihara was the obvious offensive standout of the game by going two for three (double, home run), collecting three of the team’s four RBIs, and adding a walk for good measure.

Aoki also went two for three with two doubles and a walk.

Tanaka (walk, single) and Kawamoto (single, single) both reached base twice.

Game three of the series is tomorrow afternoon at Jingu (2PM start).

Random notes:

Iihara and Whitesell were the heroes of the game. Iihara got off the stand in a hurry before Whitesell got stuffed in the face with a towel-full of shaving cream by the stealthy, off-camera D’Antona. The prankster made a quick getaway while Whitesell did a marvelous job of wiping his face clean during the middle of the interview.

Welcome to Tokyo, Josh!

The crowd at Jingu apparently set the world record (according to The Guinness Book of World Records) for the largest mass “kanpai”. Antonio Inoki, the former pro wrestler, was on the field to mark the momentous occasion.

About Christopher Pellegrini

Christopher is a budding sabermetrician and long-time supporter of Tokyo's more lovable team, the Swallows. He has publicly volunteered, several times, that he plans to buy the team at some point in the future. When he finally runs the joint, it is likely that he will fine any player who swings at the first pitch or sac bunts (unless it's a pitcher, of course). Follow him on Twitter: @chrispellegrini

  • Christopher

    Ishikawa was good – one hasn't seen this kind of performance from Swallows for a long time. Tigers tripped up with their use of Nishimura who gave up the two home runs to Iihara – a non home run batter if ever there is one and Whitesall who is new to Japan. Apart from that Tiges had the edge.