5/17/11 – Hokkaido (Away)

May 17th, 2011

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 2

Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters 0

Streak: Won 4  Last 5: DWWWW

(Sapporo Dome)


Tonight’s opening games of the 2011 Inter-League campaign saw all of the Pacific League teams hosting their Central League counterparts. For the CL-topping Swallows, that meant a trip to Hokkaido to face off against the PL’s joint top placed team in the echoey confines of the Sapporo Dome.

To add spice to the already spicy occasion, the game was scheduled to see the two teams’ ace pitchers face each other, with Tateyama going head to head with Yu Darvish. But while Tateyama did take the mound for Tokyo, it was Masaru Takeda who started for the Fighters, with the pleasure of facing Darvish likely having to wait until tomorrow evening. Shame.


Tateyama (P)

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



M.Takeda (P)

  1. Tanaka (2B)
  2. Yoh (RF)
  3. Itoi (CF)
  4. Koyano (3B)
  5. Inaba (DH)
  6. Nakata (LF)
  7. Hoffpauir (1B)
  8. Ohno (C)
  9. Kaneko (SS)


This man is rather good

Tateyama pitched a pretty standard Tateyama performance. That is to say he went deep into the game and didn’t allow the opposition a whole lot to play with as his control was largely impeccable, and when he did get in a pinch he kept his head as has become his trademark. In a word, masterful. But by now you know how much we here at Tsubamegun like ourselves a bit of Tateyama, so i’ll cut the plaudits there. Plus if you’re a regular reader I’m likely preaching to the choir anyway.

Tateyama sailed through the first four innings, giving up a hit in the 2nd and 4th, while Tokyo got a man on in each of those innings (twice each for Aoki and Balentien), but just couldn’t do anything with the runners.

And so to the 5th, where both teams seriously threatened for the first time. In the top of the inning Aoki worked a two out walk to occupy first. Tanaka then hit a grounder to short, but Kaneko’s throw to second was a little wayward, allowing Aoki to make it to third with Tanaka sitting at first. Whitesell then came within feet of making it 3-0 as he hit one just to the right of the rightfield foulpole, but he eventually stuck out on a slider in the dirt to end the inning.

In the bottom of the frame it would be Hokkaido’s turn to threaten. Swallows’ old-boy Inaba hit a freak shot which dribbled towards fist, evading both Tateyama and Tanaka’s attempts to field the ball to put a Fighters’ leadoff man on base for the first time in the evening. After a flyout from Kiyohara wannabe Sho Nakata put the first red light on the scoreboard, Hoffpauir then doubled to right with only the fact that Inaba is an old man preventing him from making it past third. It was time for Tateyama to buckle down and that he did, as he got Ohno to swing at three straight sliders outside for out number two. After that Kaneko flew out to centre and the first threat of the evening was snuffed out.

Tokyo would take the lead in the 6th. Hatakeyama doubled to lead off the inning, but with outs for Balantien and Miyamoto it looked like another runner would be stranded. But Aikawa had other ideas as he hit one to left, the ball landing just in front of Nakata allowing Hatakeyama to score for 1-0 Tokyo.

And the lead was doubled in the 7th. Aoki got on via a one-out single before Tanaka hit a grounder to short. Aoki was out at second but Tanaka beat the double play ball to first and the inning lived on. And how Hokkaido would live to regret not turning that double play, as Whitesell then clubbed one off the centrefield wall for a double allowing Tanaka (not being so old) to scarper home from first to make it 2-0 Tokyo.

Hokkaido mounted one more attempt at a run in the 8th as consecutive singles put two men on with no outs on the board. But Tateyama then got a huge break to help the Tokyo cause. Pinch hitter Murata was brought in for Yoh in order to lay down the sac bunt to move both runners into scoring positions. And lay down a bunt he did, right along the first base line. Only he ran into the ball, which was adjudged to have been in play and he was called out for interference. Ouch. After that a strikeout and a groundout got Tateyama out of the inning with his 0 intact.

All that was left was for Lim to take the mound in the 9th and he dispatched Inaba, Nakata and Hoffpauir in order to make it 2-0 Tokyo Final.

Tateyama took the win for his excellent 8IP/108P/6H/6K/1BB/1HBP/0ER performance and his record moves to 3-1/1.88.

Lim earned his 8th save of the year and his ERA now sits at 1.35.

Aoki was the standout with the bat, going 3 for 4 and his average is now a very healthy .369. Balentien (.391) managed two hits as did Aikawa (.225), who is showing some welcome signs that his slump with the bat is beginning to thaw.

Ihara, brought back into the team via the predicted DHing of Whitesell, went hitless in his four plate appearances and it now batting a blush-worthy .067. Come on Yasushi, you’re better than that! Show it.

Tokyo outhit Hokkaido 10-6.

The two teams will return tomorrow evening.

Job Done


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

  • Kozo

    Tanaka had two sac bunts in the game, his first was the 200th of his career. Tanaka’s 21 sac bunts lead the league by a pretty wide margin.

    • And surprise surprise neither of them amounted to a run being scored. It seems such a waste of his abilities.

      But like it or not, it looks as though he’s been assigned the “Miyamoto” no.2 role of old. Some people were surprised that last month’s MVP award was Shinya’s first, but it’s hard to shine offensively when you’re the go-to bunt-runt of the team, as Tanaka is finding out now..