6/30/11 – Yomiuri (Away)

June 30th, 2011

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 4

Yomiuri Giants 4

Streak: Tied 2 Last 5: WLWDD

(Tokyo Dome)

 

Another day, another draw grasped from the hands of victory. The Swallows seem to be going with a 5-man rotation at least until the return of Muranaka, and have Tateyama start on short (for Japan) rest. Balentien is dropped down to the 7-spot in the lineup in light of his recent struggles. The rest of the lineups went something like this:

 Swallows Giants
1CF Aoki1SS Sakamoto
22B Tanaka23B Kamei
31B Whitesell3CF Chono
4LF Hatakeyama4LF Ramirez
5SS Kawabata51B Ogasawara
63B Miyamoto6RF Takahashi
7RF Balentien7C Abe
8C Aikawa82B Wakiya
9P Tateyama9P Tono

The good guys had a chance early as Aoki found himself on second with one out, after a single and obligatory Tanaka bunt. Whitesell smoked a ball into right field and Aoki took a wide turn around third. The moment of hesitation while he (or more probably Shiroishi) tried to figure out whether to keep going towards home was all it took to get Aoki in a rundown and eventually tagged out. Whitesell made his way over to second, but the Birds lost a good bit of momentum. Tono walked Hatake to make it two outs and men of first and second, but Kawabata was not able to cash them in.

Instead, the Giants scored first when Kamei came around to score on a Ramirez single. Kamei had gotten on with a single of his own, stolen second, and got to third on a ground out by Ogasawara. 1-0 Giants

The Swallows got on base via deep doubles in the third (Tanaka) and fourth (Kawabata) but couldn’t quite crack Tono to get runs home.

Aoki scores on Whitesell's sac fly to take the lead.

Tono finally cracked in the fifth. After issuing back-to-back one out walks to Tateyama (!) and Aoki, Tanaka made Tono pay by doubling to left to tie the game. 1-1 All Whitesell followed by getting a fly ball just deep enough into right field to score Aoki on a sacrifice. 2-1 Swallows Unfortunately Hatakeyama wasn’t able to cash in Tanaka from third, and ended the inning on a ground out to the pitcher.

That’s how things stayed until the seventh inning when Aikawa opened the inning with a double. Tateyama dutifully bunted him over to third, and the Giants pulled the plug on Tono. The Giants brought in the lefty Yamaguchi to face Aoki, but Aoki wasted no time in getting a single to plate Aikawa. 3-1 Swallows

Unfortunately, Tateyama had a bit of a hiccup and gave it back in the bottom of the inning. After getting consecutive outs from Ogasawara and Takahashi, Tateyama left a fastball high and over the plate for Abe. Abe made no mistake and hit it into the right field stands. 3-2 Swallows

The Swallows didn’t let up and managed to get an insurance run in the top of the ninth. Aikawa drew a one out walk from Michael Nakamura who was pitching since the last batter of the seventh inning. The Swallows decide to pinch hit for Tateyama with Yuichi. The move paid off as Yuichi got a hit into right field, and some astute running by Aikawa put men on the corners for Aoki. Aoki gota single of his own to cash in Aikawa and put men on the corners again. 4-2 Swallows It seemed like the Swallows were ready to go for the jugular with the hot bat of Tanaka at the plate. Instead, with a 1-1 count, the Swallows called a squeeze play. Nakamura threw a fastball way outside which Tanaka was forced to lunge at with his bat. Not able to make contact, Noguchi (running for Yuichi) was a dead duck along the third base line. Tanaka battled Nakamura for 6 more pitches and managed to hit a scorching liner, but it went right into Wakiya’s glove for the final out.

Still, with a 2 run lead and Lim up on the mound the Swallows’ faithful were feeling pretty good. Instead the bad Lim, possibly fatigued from making his third straight appearance, showed up. Ramirez opened the inning by taking Lim’s first pitch straight into center for a hit. Ramirez was replaced by Fujimura, and he managed to make it to second after Lim uncorked a wild pitch to Ogasawara. Two pitches later it looked like Lim had gotten Ogasawara to ground out weakly to his right. But Lim slipped on the mound and wasn’t able to field the ball. By the time Kawabata got to the ball, Ogasawara was safe at first. With no out and men on first and second, it looked like Lim had finally buckled down as he got Takahashi to strike out swinging on only 4 pitches. Unfortunately one pitch later, Abe poked a single into right to score Fujimura and put men on the corners. 4-3 Swallows Wakiya, he of the .160 average with runners in scoring position, managed to take the second pitch he saw and hit it deep enough into center field to allow the third base runner to score on an easy sacrific fly. 4-4 All At least Lim didn’t allow the Giants to add insult to injury, as he got Tani to fly out on just one pitch.

With the game already around 3 hours and 20 minutes old by the time all that unraveled, the teams only had 1 inning to come away with the win. The Swallows couldn’t get anything done, getting no closer than a 2 out walk by Kawabata. The Giants got a bit closer, drawing a (questionable) two out walk from Barnette. The runner advanced on a botched pickoff attempt to put a man on second with 2 out for Shinji Takahashi who was literally the last man left on the Giants’ bench. Barnette did what he was supposed to do and didn’t make a hero out of the .090 hitter, and got him to pop out harmlessly to second.

Notes

  • For the second straight start, Tateyama gets a no decision after pitching 8 solid innings. Jason Coskrey of the Japan Times noted on his Twitter that since 2007 Tateyama hasn’t won a game at Tokyo Dome.
  • The Central League schedule has woken up Aoki’s bat. He has hit in all 6 CL games since interleague, with 5 multi-hit games including back-to-back 3 hit games over the last 2.
  • Tanaka has gotten at least 1 RBI in the last 4 games.
  • Balentien went 0-for-4, to stretch his slump to 0-for-39 over the last eight games. Balentien did gets some solid contact including a foul ball down the left field line that went into the upper deck, and a fly ball to center in the ninth
  • Chunichi finally managed to beat Yokohama tonight so our lead over the Dragons in the CL shrunk a half game to 3.5 games.
  • The Swallows now travel down to Hiroshima for a 3 game series against the Carp.
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.

  • That 9th inning was rather painful, everything that could go wrong did, and we’ve gifted the Giants with two draws in a row when they should have had +2 in their L column. 

    Having said that, it’s nice to be clearly the stronger team over a series (and indeed so far this year) against them. 

  • Highlights from today: http://bit.ly/j3KfBU

    I’ll try and do this as much as I can, provided my account doesn’t get canned (I keep the vids unlisted, though I’m not sure that matters).

  • Rob

    Thanks for the writeup!

    Wednesday’s tie felt half-full because we came back from 0-3, but Thursday’s felt half-empty because we couldn’t close the deal.

    Tateyama wins even more points as my favorite pitcher. Lim keeps Tateyama from getting the win, but Tateyama is the first guy out of the dugout to greet him after the inning and say “You’ll get ’em next time, dude.” Way cool.