7/11/10 – Hiroshima (Home)

July 11th, 2010

Hiroshima Toyo Carp 2

Tokyo Swallows 3

Streak: Won 3   Last 5: LLWWW

(Jingu Stadium)

The Swallows manage to protect a slim lead at Jingu this afternoon. Today’s lineup saw the return of both Aikawa and Miyamoto:

  1. Aoki CF
  2. Tanaka 2B
  3. Iihara RF
  4. Whitesell LF
  5. Hatakeyama 1B
  6. Aikawa C
  7. Miyamoto 3B
  8. Onizaki SS
  9. Yoshinori P

The Carp open up the scoring in small ball fashion, with Akamatsu singling home Higashide, who had opened up the game with a single and had been bunted over to second by Soyogi. 1-0 Hiroshima.

The Swallows struck back immediately with back-to-back infield singles by Aoki and Tanaka, putting runners on first and third for Iihara. Iihara managed to put the ball in play, grounding into a double play, allowing Aoki to score from third. Tied 1-1.

Yoshinori pitched a pretty hairy second inning, in which he allowed 3 walks. But he managed to get out of the inning without adding to the scoreboard.

Aikawa, celebrating his 34th birthday today, came up to bat to start the second. Shortly after the cheering section finished singing him happy birthday, Aikawa deposited a ball deep into the left field stands. 2-1 Swallows. Miyamoto and Onizaki followed with consecutive singles, but Yoshinori struck out bunting and Aoki ended the threat with a double play.

Yoshinori settled down and got the Carp to fall down in order in both the third and forth innings. The Swallows managed to get men on base in their side of those innings, but couldn’t manage to stretch their lead.

The fifth inning started off well, as Yoshinori got Higashide to fly out and Soyogi to strikeout. Unfortunately, Akamatsu launched the second pitch he saw into the left field stands, tying the game 2-2.

The Swallows regained the lead in the bottom of the inning, in a somewhat bizarre sequence of events. Aoki started things off with a single to center. Tanaka’s bunt down the third base side forced the pitcher, Stultz to make a hurried throw to first pulling the first baseman off the base. With no outs and men on first and second, Iihara sacrifices the runners into scoring position bringing Whitesell to the plate. With the Hiroshima infield playing shallow to try to nail any runners at home, Whitesell hits a scorching grounder to the pitcher. The pitcher wasn’t able to handle the ball cleanly, and Whitesell was credited with an infield single which loaded the bases with 1 out. Hatakeyama, the home run hero from the last two games, came up to bat and hit a sacrifice fly to right. Brining home the go-ahead run, 3-2 Swallows. Not exactly how you’d draw it up in your mind, but a lead is a lead.

The two teams exchange walks and hits in the sixth, but the scoreboard remained unchanged. Yoshinori was pulled after the sixth and ended the day having allowed 4 hits, 4 walks, 1 hit batsman, and 2 earned runs in 6 innings of work to go along with 7 strikeouts. Masubuchi came into the game in the seventh and pitched a perfect inning.

Masubuchi made way for Matsuoka in the eighth. He gave the crowd some case for concern, giving up 2 singles despite having gotten ahead in the count both times. Matsuoka ended the inning by inducing a hard hit liner to center. As the rain started to fall harder, the Swallows mounted a threat of their own in the bottom of the inning, but were unable to stretch their lead.

The stage was set for Lim to close out this messy game. Things did not start off well, as Ishihara blooped a ball into center that should have been a single. Unfortunately, both Tanaka and Onizaki chased after the ball and no one was covering second after neither player was able to get the ball. Ishihara waltzed into second as Aoki had no one to throw the ball to. Ishihara advanced to third on a Maeda fly out to right. With only one out, a man on third, and the rain falling harder the Swallows’ crowd was getting audibly anxious. Thankfully Lim got Higashide to foul out to third, and Soyogi to ground out to second, to preserve the win.

The Swallows managed to collect 11 hits, 4 walks and 1 dead ball from the Carp, but managed only 3 runs. Beyond Aikawa’s birthday homer, the other two Swallows’ scores came on a double play grounder and a sac fly. Sometimes you just have to win ugly.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • The Swallows grounded into 3 double plays today.
  • Miyamoto managed to go 4-for-4 with all 4 hits being singles to center. The first 3 hits looked almost identical.
  • Aoki was the only other Swallow to get multiple hits going 2-for-3 with a GIDP, walk, and 2 runs scored.
  • Aikawa’s home run was the 8th of the season, which ties the season highs that he accomplished in 2004 and 2005.
  • Every starter managed to get a hit, except Hatakeyama (who still got winning run across the plate) and Yoshinori.
  • The Swallows have again taken sole possession of 4th place in the Central League standings. The Birds are off to face the 3rd place Chunichi Dragons in a 3 game series starting Tuesday. Game 1 will take place in Gifu.
About Kozo Ota

Kozo Ota is a third-generation Swallows fan that grew up on Montreal Expos baseball. (You can read more about that here.) When he's not at Jingu, he works as a freelance translator/interpreter to make enough money to go to Jingu. You can find random posts by Kozo on Google+ and Twitter.