9/14/10 – Yomiuri (Home)

September 14th, 2010

Yomiuri Giants 3

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 2

Streak: Lost 2   Last 9: LWWLL

(Jingu Stadium)

After an unlikely series win in Koshien at the weekend, it was back home to Jingu to host our beloved neighbours and their army of braindead minions. With Nakazawa still out of sorts, it was all hands on deck for the pitching staff as they tried to fill spot number five in the rotation and give the team a chance to maintain their excellent recent run of form against the Giants, thus keeping their playoff hopes alive. And in the end, five pitchers made a pretty decent fist of it over the course of this one, but the bats came up just a tad short.

  1. Aoki (CF)
  2. Tanaka (2B)
  3. Ihara (RF)
  4. Whitesell (1B)
  5. Hatakeyama (LF)
  6. Aikawa (C)
  7. Miyamoto (3B)
  8. Kawabata (SS)
  9. Matsui (P)

The decidedly mediocre Kousuke Matsui got the start but in the end only lasted/was only given 2.2 innings. After giving up just the one hit over the first two innings, things went a bit awry in the 3rd. Three consecutive two-out singles, made it 1-0 Yomiuri before an infield single from Ramirez loaded the bases. Matsui was gone and in came Lee who promptly walked Abe to make it 2-0. He did get Takahashi to ground out to end and inning that could have easily turned very nasty indeed.

But in the bottom of the 3rd the Swallows would get on the board themselves against Yomiuri starter Asai, with a double from Kawabata and another one out later from Aoki putting proceedings at 2-1.

Lee then gave up just one hit over the next two innings, but unfortunately that hit was a solo homer for Ogasawara in the 5th which put the Yomiuri lead back to two runs, 3-1.

Scoreless innings then followed for Watanabe (6th), Oshimoto (7th and 8th) and finally Masubuchi (9th) while the Swallows offence failed to muster much against Asai and his reliever Kubo.

And so then to the 9th, whereupon over-achievement personified in Marc Kroon took the mound to try to close the deal for “them” in orange. Whitesell doubled to lead off the inning, the ball almost being snagged at the centrefield wall by a jumping Matsumoto, but impact with the wall led to the ball exiting glove with Josh (soon replaced by Noguchi) safe and sound at second. A wild pitch during Hatake’s at-bat allowed Noguchi to reach third, before he came home on a groundout to second for out number one, 3-2. Aikawa then forgot the golden rule of facing Kroon, don’t swing, as he stuck out on three pitches for out number two. Miyamoto and Kawabata then remembered said rule as they both got free passes to first to put two men on.

That was it for Kroon, who was replaced by lefty Yamaguchi. Cue D’Antona as pinch hitter with a chance to take it to extra innings/end it all in a sayonara styleee, but it wasn’t to be as he grounded out to short and the game was in the books. 3-2 Yomiuri Final.

Matsui was tagged with the loss to put his record at 0-1/4.97.

Tokyo were outhit 7-6 with Aoki getting two of them, both doubles, on his quest toward 200 hits. He is now on 185 and his average is sitting at .358.

The two teams will return to Jingu tomorrow night for game number two of this most crucial of weeks.

About David Watkins

David is a baseball bothering Brummie who spends a fair portion of his life fretting over the Tokyo Swallows and the WORLD'S GREATEST FOOTBALL TEAM, Aston Villa. He completes the quartet of abusive sporting relationships by being a die hard New York Knicks and Mets fan. You can find him on twitter: @yakulto