7/12/11 – Chunichi (Home)

July 12th, 2011

Chunichi Dragons 4

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 6

Streak: Won 2    Last 5: WWLWW

(Meiji Jingu Stadium)

With a home series against the second placed Dragons presenting the Swallows with the chance to further extend their lead at the CL summit, they took full advantage as Shichijo (with the help of ample run support) won his first game at Jingu.

Us:

  1. Aoki (CF)

    Kawabata brings home his third run of the game in the 5th

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

Them:

  1. Oshima (CF)
  2. T.Iwasaki (SS)
  3. Morino (3B)
  4. Wada (LF)
  5. T.Donoue (RF)
  6. Koike (1B)
  7. Araki (2B)
  8. Oda (C)
  9. Nelson (P)

In truth, both starters in this one proved to be eminently hittable, but it was Nelson who was the first to concede in the 2nd.

After Hatake grounded out to short for out number one, consecutive singles from Balentien and Miyamoto put two men on to set the table for Kawabata. The shortstop didn’t pass up the opportunity to dine, as he hit a double to the rightfield wall, scoring both runners for 2-0 Tokyo. Kawamoto then hit a sharp one up the middle but a diving Araki managed to get a glove to it but the runners were safe with a Shichijo sac bunt putting both men in scoring positions.

Next up was Aoki, and he hit a grounder to first, but he just beat the base covering Nelson to the bag and Tokyo had themselves another run for 3-0. Tanaka wrapped up the inning with a flyout to centre.

But Shichijo would let Chunichi on the board in the 3rd, as a Oshima double and a Morino single up the middle made it 3-1. And the Dragons cut the lead to just the one run in the top of the 4th, though this time it was Araki with the double and Oda with the run scoring single for 3-2.

If there’s one thing the rookie starter has not lacked in his three starts to date it’s run support, and this was further illustrated in the bottom of the 4th. With one out on the board, Kawamoto reached first courtesy of a dead ball only for Shichijo to strike out for out number two trying to lay down a bunt. Aoki was next up and he hit one off the wall in right for a double to make it 4-2, and advanced to third on the throw home that was just too late to stop Kawamoto.

Tanaka then once again proved he has so much more to offer than the humble bunt as he hit to left to score Aoki and give Shichijo more breathing room with the score now at 5-2.

Shichijo escapes his 5th inning jam

However he again couldn’t keep Chunichi off the board in what would prove to be his final inning in the 5th. With no outs, a single for Oshima and a double for Iwasaki put Shichijo in somewhat of a pinch with two men in scoring positions. But he recovered well with two strikeouts and just a run scoring groundout from Wada putting the score at 5-3 when it could have been much worse.

Shichijo’s final line: 5IP/73P/8H/2K/1BB/3ER.

Tokyo added their final run of the night off Dragons’ reliever Suzuki in the bottom of the 5th. Back to back singles for Hatake and Balentien set things rolling, but only Kawabata managed to bring anything home with a single up the line to right for 6-3.

Oshimoto (2.96) came in to pitch the 6th, and gave up one run off one hit after initially letting leadoff man Koike on base with a double, 6-4.

After that the bullpen kept the Dragons at bay. In the 7th Matsuoka (4.03) gave up a single but two strikeouts helped him leave the runner stranded at first.

In the 8th is was the turn of setup man Tony Barnette (0.96), and he induced two flyouts and a strikeout for the only inning of the evening in which Chunichi didn’t get a man on board.

And so to the 9th with Lim (1.71) on the mound, and the ace closer put in a shift not too dissimilar to a lot of his performances of late, not looking particularly sharp, allowing a man on via a leadoff single, but ultimately doing enough to bring home the win and earn his 18th save of the season, 6-4 Tokyo Final.

The win puts the birds 5 games clear atop the CL. And hurrah to that.

Shichijo took the win to put his record at 2-3/3.50.

Tokyo outhit their opposition 13-11 with Aoki (.320), Hatake (.295), Balentien (.266), Miyamoto (.304) and Kawabata (.287) all registering two hits each with Kawabata’s three RBI haul earning him the game’s hero award.

And yes you did read that right, Balentien hit two well taken singles, which is maybe the way out of his hitting slump (contact hitting), given that he got so little of quality to hit from the Chunichi pitchers tonight (breaking ball low and outside is all he saw 90% of the time).

Whitesell (.276) went 1 for 4 with 1 K this evening.

The two teams will be back again tomorrow evening, with Shohei Tateyama the likely starter for Tokyo.

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