5/4/11 – Chunichi (Home)

May 4th, 2011

Chunichi Dragons 3

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 4

Streak: Won 3   Last 5: LLWWW

(Meiji Jingu Stadium)

A nearly-full house basked in the sun while a five-hit, two-run, eight K performance by Yoshinori backed by a pair of Whitesell homers and power when it counted through most of the batting order led Tokyo to their third straight win and a super-.700 win percentage. 125 games to go, though.

Yoshinori dodges the broken bat of another slain Dragon.

Tokyo lined up thus:
1. Aoki (CF)
2. Tanaka (2B)
3. Whitesell (1B)
4. Hatakeyama (LF)
5. Balentien (RF)
6. Miyamoto (3B)
7. Aikawa (C)
8. Kawabata (SS)
9. Yoshinori (Dragon-slayer)

Our foes thus:
1. Araki (SS)
2. Ibata (2B)
3. Morino (3B)
4. Wada (LF)
5. Blanco (1B)
6. Guzman (RF)
7. Nomoto (CF)
8. Tanishige (C)
9. Iwata (P)

Yoshinori started strong, letting only batter reach base in the first three innings – Morino with a third-inning drag bunt.

In the 2nd inning, Balentien and Aikawa teamed up with a pair of hard doubles that brought in a run. 1-0 Tokyo.

Chunichi equalized in the fourth when Ibata singled, snuck his way around the bases, and was brought home by Blanco in an inning when all three outs were strike-outs. 1-1.

In the fifth, Aoki led off with grounder nabbed between the mound and second, but not in time to stop him reaching first. Tanaka nudged him over to second, then Whitesell made that redundant by sending the first pitch he saw – an outside fastball – to the home fans in the bleachers. 3-1 Tokyo.

Whitesell added to the lead in the 7th when Chunichi reliever Hirai tried to sneak a low outside forkball past him and he drilled past the center-field fence. 4-1 Tokyo.

After a first seven innings that consisted of 85 pitches, two walks (the first of which on a close check-swing call), four hits, one run, and eight strike-outs, Yoshinori started to wear out in the 8th. He walked Tanishige, gave up a double to pinch-hitter Donoue, then walked Araki to load the bases. Ibata then grounded into a double play and was followed by a Morino pop-out, so the damage was limited to one run. 4-2 Tokyo.

Lim Chang-yong came in to close. He gave up a triple to Blanco, who put the ball past Iihara (in for Hatake in the 8th, presumably for defensive reasons), then was brought home on a Guzman pop fly to Iihara before working the inside on Morino and catching him on a check-swing third strike with a low outside fastball to notch a K and his 100th career save, making him the 23rd pitcher to reach that mark in NPB and cementing another W in a game that was not as close as it looked on the board. 4-3 Tokyo, Final.

Three heroes were named: Yoshinori for his 8-inning, 110-pitch, 5-hit, 2-run win; Whitesell for his two round-trippers; and Lim for his milestone save.

The Birds look to complete the sweep tomorrow at Jingu, 2:00 p.m. Get there early.