7/7/11 – Yomiuri (Home)

July 7th, 2011

Yomiuri Giants 2

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 3

Streak: Won 4 Last 5: LWWWW

(Meiji Jingu Stadium)

 

 

Sometime you need to be a little lucky to win games, and tonight was one of those nights. With most of the Giants pitching struggling, Hara opts to start Utsumi on short rest to try to stop their losing skid. With no Muranaka comeback, the Swallows start Ishikawa to make it a battle of lefty aces.

 Swallows Giants
1CF Aoki1SS Sakamoto
22B Tanaka23B Kamei
31B Whitesell3CF Chono
4LF Hatakeyama4LF Ramirez
5RF Balentien5C Abe
63B Miyamoto6RF Saburo
7SS Kawabata71B Ogasawara
8C Aikawa82B Fujimura
9P Tateyama9P Utsumi

Both pitchers kept the offense off the scoreboard for the first 3 innings, although Ishikawa looked a little more vulnerable as he allowed runners to get into scoring position in both the first and second innings.

The Giants struck first when Chono opens the inning with a double to right. One out later, Ishikawa walks Abe to put men on first and second. After falling behind to Saburo 2-1, Ishikawa hung a breaking ball a little inside and Saburo blooped it in front of Balentien to score 1. 1-0 Giants Ishikawa settled down and got the next two batters out, but the damage was done.

One inning later, Ishikawa gave up a full count solo homer to Sakamoto. 2-0 Giants It was the last extra base hit the Giants got tonight. Utsumi was till pitching well, having given up only 2 hits after 5 innings.

The Swallows finally cracked Utsumi in the sixth. With one out, Tanaka slapped a single back up the middle. Whitesell followed one pitch later with a sharp line drive single to right, allowing Tanaka to advance to third. Hatakeyama cashed in Tanaka on a ground out to third. 2-1 Giants

The Swallows found themselves in a similar situation in the bottom of the seventh after a Miyamoto single, Kawabata bunt, and Aikawa infield single left the Swallows with one out and men on the corners. With Ishikawa’s spot in the batting order up, Ogawa decides to go with Miyade. Miyade grounded out sharply to third base and Kamei threw immediately to home. Miyamoto immediately turned back towards third and got caught in a rundown. Unfortunately, Miyamoto got too close to third and couldn’t give Aikawa enough room to sneak into third during the rundown. The result was the weirdest inning ending double play that had the home faithful throwing their hands up in disgust.

Luckily things went ore smoothly in the eighth. Aoki opened the inning with an infield single to short and Hiroyasu dutifully bunted him over to second. Whitesell battled Utsumi for 6 pitches before he grounded a ball past a diving second baseman for a hit. Aoki was running on contact and Shiroishi waved Aoki through to home without hesitation. Saburo fielded the ball in right and threw the ball to home. Saburo’s throw made it to Abe just in time. Unfortunately for the Giants, Saburo’s throw tailed towards first pulling Abe away from the plate, which allowed Aoki to slide into home uncontested. 2-2 All Whitesell’s hit knocked Utsumi out of the game. Hatake followed with a single to center, to put men on the corners with 1 out for Balentien. Unfortunately, Coco grounded into a double play to end the threat.

Barnette and Lim did their jobs to hold down the game for the Swallows in the ninth and tenth. On the offensive side, the Swallows got 1 out walks in the ninth and tenth. Each time the Swallows elected to bunt. The first bunt attempt by Aikawa was successful, but left the game in the hands of Fukukawa with 2 outs and a man on second. Fukukawa found himself in the game after the Giants reacted to Ogawa’s first pinch hitter, lefty Yuichi, by bringing out the lefty Yamaguchi. As one would expect, Fukukawa struck out looking to end the inning. After Tanaka got a one out walk in the tenth, Noguchi (in after pinch running for Whitesell in the eighth) was called to bunt him over to second. After getting behind two strikes, Noguchi was forced to swing the bat and flied out to second. Tanaka would later advance to second on a wild pitch, but Hatakeyama was not able to cash him in.

With the 3:30 rule in effect the eleventh inning was sure to be the last inning of the game. Kyuko was called to hold off the Giants and he got off to a quick start striking out both Abe and Saburo. Things got a little hairy after Kyuko allowed back-to-back singles to Ogasawara and Tani. But Kyuko was able to keep the Giants off the scoreboard by getting Yoshinobu Takahashi to groundout to first. The Swallows had guaranteed themselves at least a tie.

The bottom of the eleventh was the most bizarre series of plays I’d seen in a long while. Balentien led off the inning by working the count full and grounding out towards first. Luckily for Balentien, Kamei slipped and couldn’t field the ball allowing Balentien to get credit for an infield hit. Balentien was immediately replaced with Miwa on the basepaths. Not surprisingly, Miyamoto immediately showed bunt. But before Tsubamegun readers could complain about the tactic, Ochi plunked Miyamoto around the collarbone prompting Ogawa and staff to rush out from the bench. While Miyamoto was down for a few seconds, he was able to walk off on his own power. Morioka came in to run for Miyamoto. The next batter (or is it bunter) was Kawabata who promptly laid out a bunt towards first base. Abe immediately signaled to Kamei to throw the ball to third, but Miwa was able to beat the throw and everyone was safe. The Giants had essentially gifted the Swallows a bases loaded no out situation. Luckily, Aikawa was not asked to attempt a squeeze. Unfortunately he grounded hard to third allowing the Giants to get the force at home. Aikawa somehow managed to run hard enough not to get forced out at first, keeping the bases loaded. Fujimoto pinch hit in the pitchers spot and struck out looking after falling behind 1-2. So with 2 out and the bases loaded Aoki came up to bat. After getting ahead 2-1, Aoki made contact with a fastball and the ball looked like it might get past the second baseman. But Tsuburaya made a diving play and managed to get the ball in his glove just a few feet from second. But with the runner bearing down from first, he had to flick the ball out his glove to the shortstop covering second. The ball came out of his glove slowly and wihout much accuracy pulling the shortstop off of the bag, ensuring everyone was safe and somehow the Swallows managed to complete the sweep of the Giants. 3-2 Swallows!

Tsuburaya can't get the out!

Aoki wins the game! The Swallows celebrate!

Notes

  • Kyuko got the win and improved his record to 5-1, Ochi got the loss for the Giants.
  • Utsumi was denied his 10th win for the third time.
  • The game lasted 3 hours and 55 minutes. Although it took less than 3 hours to get through 9 innings.
  • The Swallows’ 7 game winning streak against the Giants is the team’s longest since 1997.
  • The Swallows’ record stands at 33-21-7 with a 4.5 game lead over the second place Dragons.
  • Ishikawa lasted 7 innings allowing 7 hits including a homer, 1 walk, and 2 earned runs. Ishikawa managed 5 strike outs in 112 pitches.
  • The Swallows did not get a single extra base hit in today’s game.

Is this sight getting too familiar?

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.

  • Rob

    Thanks for the write-up!
    Josh had a nice sliding catch of a foul by Ramirez with two out and Sakamoto on third to end the first. Right up against the wall. Well done.

  • This is good news.  It was 2-1 Giants when my stream gave out.  I figured a sweep was too much to hope for!

  • I don’t want to go into detail about just how excited I am about the way things are transpiring this year for fear of invoking one of my legendary curses.

  • Anonymous

    But still, what a pleasant evening that was