4/15/11 – Yokohama (Home)

April 15th, 2011

Yokohama BayStars 9

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 7

Streak: Lost 3    Last 5: LLL

(Meiji Jingu Stadium)

Forget all the conventional wisdom you’ve heard about Japanese baseball, they certainly did not apply to this game. The BayStars being perennial losers? Nope, the BayStars are now two games over .500 for the first time in 4 seasons. The new unified balls leading to less homeruns? The two teams combined for 6 homeruns on the day. Tateyama is our most consistent ace pitcher? Not today. So before we get onto the actual game report, let’s take a look at the starters of this conventional wisdom defying game.

 Swallows BayStars
1CF Aoki1SS Ishikawa
22B Tanaka22B Watanabe
3LF Iihara3LF Sledge
41B Whitesell43B Murata
5C Aikawa51B Harper
6RF Balentien6CF Morimoto
73B Miyamoto7RF Yoshimura
8SS Kawabata8C Takeyama
9P Tateyama9P Miura

Things stated out oddly when Ishikawa laid down a pretty bunt single. That’s where the play should have ended, but instead of conceding the single or throwing the ball to Tanaka, who was covering the base, Whitesell decided to soft lob the ball over Tanaka’s head. The bizarre error allowed Ishikawa to take second. Watanabe quickly followed with a single up the middle to score Ishikawa. Yokohama managed to get another hit off Tateyama, but he was able to limit the damage by getting all the outs in the inning via strikeout. 1-0 BayStars

The Birds struck back quickly with an Aoki single and a Tanaka tak-bunt that was rendered absolutely moot by a towering Whitesell homer to straight-away center. For the first time this season the Swallows take a lead. 2-1 Swallows

Tateyama seemed to have settled down until the 4th when he allowed a lead-off single to Murata. He came around to score when Harper belted the second ball he saw into the left field stands. While the BayStars managed to get a man on third with one out, Tateyama manages to limit the damage to the Harper homerun. 3-2 BayStars

The Swallows open the bottom half of the inning with back-to-back singles by Aikawa and Balentien. Miyamoto bunted them over to scoring position, and Aikawa managed to score on a groundout by Kawabata. Unfortunately Tateyama wasn’t able to stretch the lead any further and the Swallows settle for only 1 run. Tied 3-3

The BayStars open the fifth inning with a walk by Ishikawa, and a Tak-bunt by Watanabe. Their Tak-bunt was also rendered moot when Sledge decided he wanted to join in on the homerun derby and put one in the right field stands. For those counting at home, that’s Sledge’s league leading 5th homerun and 12th RBI. 5-3 BayStars

The BayStars push the lead further in the sixth with a Yoshimoto solo homer to left-center. 6-3 BayStars

Kinjo's homerun breaks the heart of the Jingu faithful

Things were quiet until the bottom of the seventh. With Onuma pitching for the BayStars the Swallows start the inning with 2 quick outs by Miyamoto and Kawabata. Yuichi came to the plate for the pitcher, and promptly put the first pitch he saw into the stands to cut the BayStars lead. Aoki kept the inning going with a single up the middle, his third hit of the game. He scored on the next pitch when Tanaka took Onuma’s offering into deep center field for a double. Tanaka scored two pitches later when Takeuchi, in for Iihara, got a double of his own. With the game now tied, the BayStars decided to intentionally walk Whitesell and face Aikawa. Aikawa made them pay by poking a single into right, allowing Takeuchi to score the go-ahead run. Unfortunately, Aikawa was caught trying to stretch the hit into a double and the Swallows’ lost their chance to extend the lead further. 7-6 Swallows

Unfortunately the good feeling did not last long. The Swallows sent ace setup man Matsuoka to the mound. Matsuoka got 2 quick outs when a Morimoto double play erased an earlier Harper single to center. But a single to Yoshimura and a walk to Naito, put two men on the basepaths. The BayStars brought up Kinjo to pinch hit, and the Swallows countered with the young lefty Hidaka. After falling behind in the count 3-1, Hidaka gave Kinjo a pitch to hit, and Kinjo put it in the visitor’s cheering section to take back the lead for the BayStars. 9-7 BayStars

The Birds weren’t able to muster any offense in the eighth or ninth, and the roller coaster game ended with the Swallows still winless. The Swallows will try again tomorrow with Muranaka expected to start.

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.