7/10/11 – Hanshin (“Home”)

July 10th, 2011

Hanshin Tigers 0

Tokyo Swallows 3

Streak: Won 1   Last 5: WWWLW

(Akita Stadium)

 

After the embarrassment of yesterday’s game, the Tokyo Swallows looked to get back on track behind the unpredictable Masubuchi. Turns out that the kid had one of his finer outings of the year, and some clutch hitting meant that birds were eventually able to ease to a comfortable victory.

Hanshin:

Aikawa gloved Aoki's throw from center and then braced for the collision. He held on to the ball. Inning over.

1. Hirano (CF)
2. Sekimoto (2B)
3. Toritani (SS)
4. Murton (RF)
5. Brazell (1B)
6. Arai (3B)
7. Rin (LF)
8. Fujii (C)
9. Nomi (P)

Tokyo:

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

Even though Masubuchi got the win, he was outpitched by Hanshin’s starter, Nomi. He struck out 10 through seven innings and only gave up three hits. In fact, he was perfect through four and a third innings before Tokyo finally got to him in the sixth.

Kawabata led the inning off with a bouncer up the middle into center field–only the second hit for the birds up to that point. Aikawa then lined out to short and Masubuchi bunted Kawabata over to second. Aoki then slapped one between first and second to plate Kawabata and put the team’s first run on the board since Thursday. 1-0 Tokyo.

Miyamoto and Kawabata both struck out to begin the eighth, but then Aikawa drew a full count walk from Hanshin reliever, Watanabe. Watanabe got yanked in favor of Kawasaki once Hanshin’s comically meatheaded manager, Mayumi, saw that Yuichi had been announced as the pinch hitter for Barnette at the bottom of Tokyo’s batting order.

Tokyo’s manager, Ogawa, responded by continuing the matchups switcheroo game. He put Miyade in instead of Yuichi so that the Swallows would have a right-handed batter facing off against a southpaw relief pitcher.

In the end, Miyade walked without ever taking his bat off his shoulder.

Aoki then slapped a tricky bouncer to first that left all runners safe, the bases juiced, and two outs on the board.

Tanaka, as he has done so many times of late, made the most of the situation. He worked the count full and then punched a grounder up the middle that scored both Aikawa and Miyade to help protect Masubuchi’s chance at a second win in as many starts and simultaneously give our closer, Lim, a bit of extra breathing room. 3-0 Final.

For the record, Lim faced four batters of which he walked one and struck out the other three. It was his 17th save of the season, and his ERA shrank slightly to 1.76.

Masubuchi nearly went a full seven today, falling just a single out short. He kept the Tigers scoreless the entire time while allowing five hits and four walks. He also struck out nine in the process of recording his fifth win of the 2011 season. As a result of his bright day on the mound, he saw his ERA shrink to 4.73.

Kyuko (2.89 ERA) threw three pitches with two men on and eventually gave up a single to Toritani that looked like it was going to erase Masubuchi’s chance at a win. But because Aoki was playing shallow in center, he was able to scoop the ball up quickly and throw Fujii out at home to preserve the one run lead.

Barnette (1.00 ERA) pitched the seventh and found himself in a bases loaded jam before inducing an Arai Jr. groundout to first to end the threat and the inning.

Tokyo will take on the second place Chunichi Dragons on Tuesday through Thursday at Jingu Stadium.

Notes:

Every Tokyo starter, except for Aikawa, struck out at least once. Whitesell did so three times.

Balentien was the guy who finally broke up Nomi’s perfect game with one out in the fifth. He hit a single to left.

Belentien was caught leaning the wrong way on first and got thrown out at second during Miyamoto’s at-bat.

About Christopher Pellegrini

Christopher is a budding sabermetrician and long-time supporter of Tokyo's more lovable team, the Swallows. He has publicly volunteered, several times, that he plans to buy the team at some point in the future. When he finally runs the joint, it is likely that he will fine any player who swings at the first pitch or sac bunts (unless it's a pitcher, of course). Follow him on Twitter: @chrispellegrini