5/18/11- Hokkaido (Away)

May 18th, 2011

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 0

Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters 3

Streak: Lost 1   Last 5: WWWWL

(Sapporo Dome)

 

Tonight’s match-up saw media-darling and Hokkaido ace Yu Darvish take on our boys from Tokyo. The Swallows put the relatively untested youngster Hitoshi Yamamoto, in his third start, up against him. Rangy Swallow-turned-Eagle-turned-Swallow Ryuji Miyade also started his first game as a returnee tonight, when he took the field in left.

It could have been worse, but there was very little oxygen for the Birds in Sapporo tonight.

Us:

Because this hippie earns his cash, we get no exciting photo.


Yamamoto (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. Miyade (LF)

Them:
Darvish (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)

Poor Yamamoto lost his mojo early on, when, with one out in the bottom of the second, he gave up a deep double to Inaba on the first pitch of the at-bat, a hard RBI single up the middle to obnoxious punk Nakata on the second pitch of his at-bat, and denied the new guy Hoffpauir an AB by walking him on five pitches, before redeeming himself with two strike-outs against Ohno and Kaneko. 1-0 Hokkaido.

Yamamoto nearly brought Judgement Day three days ahead of schedule, when he loaded the bases with a hit (then an intervening groundout) and two walks before he was yanked in favor of Kyuko.

Tokyo didn’t even begin to organize a revenge plot until the top of the sixth, when a Whitesell double followed by a Hatakeyama single put men on the corners with only one out and the mighty Wladimir “Coco” Balentien at the bat.

Darvish served up a hot lunch down the middle, Coco went after it, and the inning ended with a GIDP. (Didn’t I once hear something about taking the first pitch?)

The sixth inning would not end without a run, though. Unfortunately it was for the Fighters. Kyuko proved no more effective than Yamamoto, notching his second K on his third batter (Inaba) before letting the next two on with a walk and a hit before he was replaced by Hashimoto.

Hashimoto got the second out on an Ohno fly ball that let both runners move into scoring position. He then gave up an RBI to Kaneko before getting the third out. One of those nights for the bullpen. 2-0 Hokkaido.

The seventh didn’t get any prettier for Hashimoto. An Onizaki fielding error, followed by a successful bunt, followed by a successful sac bunt saw him leave the game with two men in scoring position yet again. One of those nights for the bullpen.

Kato came in and promptly gave up a successful sac fly before finally getting the Birds out of the inning with a K. 3-0 Hokkaido, Final.

I’ll put you out of your misery now. Darvish went 1-2-3/1-2-3 in the seventh inning to make up for the aforementioned danger he’d allowed his team to get into all night in the sixth – the only danger they were in all night, after which he faced only six batters. Having thrown 127 pitches, he left the game to allow Hisashi Takeda to come in to strike out Whitesell one a full count, just barely escape a Hatakeyama homer, and throw one pitch to Balentien, who, of course, went after it to no avail.

Yamamoto took his second loss of the season, striking out five while walking three and giving up four hits and one run. His relief was no better, really.

Balentien has monster numbers, but he needs to watch Whitesell work a count, take notes, and stop getting sucked into first-pitches in the strike zone. The results are bad more often than not.

What’s there to say? Yu Darvish earns his money.

The Carp lost, too, so Tokyo is still three games up in first place. They go to Sendai after a day off to help Yoshinori to a dominant performance in his hometown, then come back to Jingu to host Fukuoka for a pair.

Don’t forget that you can keep up with individual player stats on our stats page.