9/10/11 Hanshin (Home)

September 10th, 2011

Hanshin Tigers 2

Tokyo Swallows 6

Streak: Won 5  Last 5: WWWWW

(Jingu)

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WP: Ishikawa (9-7) LP: Kubo (7-6)

Tonight, the Swallows proved to themselves that Yasutomo Kubo and the Hanshin Tigers are not unbeatable boogiemen.

 Tigers Swallows
1
2B Hirano1CF Aoki
2CF Shunsuke22B Tanaka
3SS Toritani3SS Kawabata
41B Arai41B Hatakeyama
5RF Murton5LF Takeuchi
63B Sekimoto 63B Miyamoto
7LF Kanemoto7RF Balentien
8C Fujii8C Aikawa
9P Kubo9P Ishikawa
The Tigers' announced starting lineup had RHP Randy Messenger batting 2nd and starting in CF, a move employed to react to the Swallows' starting pitcher. We've listed the players that actually played the start of the game for the Tigers.

The Swallows were facing Kubo who had a 9 game winning streak against the Swallows dating back to September of 2009. In the bottom of the first Aoki lead-off with a solid single to right to start the inning. While Aoki did not come around to score, there was a palpable sense in the air that Aoki was back and that Kubo was not unbeatable.

The Swallows finally get to Kubo.

The actual scoring began in the third inning. Ishikawa opened the inning with a beautiful hit to center field. Aoki followed with another first pitch single to right field, this time grounding it through the infield, to put men on first and second with no out. Tanaka executed his obligatory bunt to advance the runners, and bring Kawabata up to bat. Kawabata, who was 0-for-13 against Kubo this season, calmly watched Kubo’s first 4 pitches to get ahead 3-1. Kubo hung something inside for pitch number 5, and Kawabata drove it right into the waiting Swallows fans in right field. 3-0 Swallows Hatake followed with a towering shot to center that was caught at the wall, and Takeuchi ended the inning with a grounder to first.

The Tigers got a run back off a Murton solo shot to lead-off the next inning, but Ishikawa calmly retired the next 3 batters to keep the momentum from shifting. 3-1 Swallows

The Swallows offense picked up where they left off with a Miyamoto first-pitch single. After yesterday’s key homerun, it seemed that the Tigers were treading carefully around Balentien, and he patiently took a 5 pitch walk. The Swallows decided to take the Tak-bunting concept to a whole new level as they got Aikawa to bunt Miyamoto and Balentien over for Ishikawa. The move almost worked as Ishikawa hit a solid liner straight at the shortstop. Not wanting to risk another Aoki hit the Tigers took Kubo out of the game in favor of Kojima. After getting ahead of Aoki 1-2, it looked like Kojima had induced an inning-ending grounder to third, but Sekimoto bobbled the ball and couldn’t get the ball fast enough to get Aoki out. In the meantime, Miyamoto crossed to plate to extend the lead. 4-1 Swallows A non-bunting Tanaka followed with a single back up the middle to score Balentien from third. 5-1 Swallows

The Tigers clawed back a little in the fifth. Komiyama lead off the inning with a solid hit to left. Hirano followed with a hit to right, but did not get the memo that Balentien wasn’t loafing in the field anymore. Balentien easily nailed Hirano trying to take second, although Komiyama did advance to third. Ishikawa did get Shunsuke to groud out to third, but couldn’t stop Toritani from getting a solid hit to left to score Komiyama. 5-2 Swallows

The bottom of the fifth kicked off with a bit of fielding comedy after Hatake skyed a 3-1 pitch into shallow left. Toritani gave chase but the ball was approaching a left fielder’s average range. Fortunately for the Swallows, the Tigers were starting Kanemoto in left who’s left field range is only slightly better than Hatakeyama. So instead of an easy catch by the left fielder running into the ball, Toritani had to make a comparatively more difficult back peddling catch. While Toritani should have caught the ball, he couldn’t and Hatakeyama was able to get to second base. Takeuchi couldn’t bunt him over to third, and grounded out to the pitcher. Miyamoto singled to center to put men on the corners. The Tigers chose to pitch around Balentien, giving him 3 straight balls out of the zone to start the at bat. Coco chased the next ball outside for a foul, and fouled off the pitch after that to work the count full. Balentien showed some patience once again as he took pitch number 6 low for his second walk of the night to load the bases. Aikawa was able to cash in a run on an almost double play grounder to second base. 6-2 Swallows The Swallows decided to pull Ishikawa’s bat in favor of Morioka’s, but the youngster couldn’t get any more runs on the board.

Oshimoto came in to pitch the sixth, and immediately gave up back-to-back singles to Murton and Sekimoto to lead off the inning. Oshimoto managed to get a strikeout from Kanemoto before he was pulled for Hidaka. The young lefty managed to get Kano to strikeout and Komiyama to ground out to end the threat.

Kyuko relieved Hidaka in the seventh and pitched a perfect inning on 11 pitches. Kyuko’s scoreless appearance was his 22nd in a row, which set a CL rookie record previously held by Chunichi’s Hitoki Iwase. Matsuoka pitched a cardiac eighth as he allowed runners to get to the corners, but managed to get out of his own jam. With no save on the line, Kosuke Matsui pitched the ninth, and got the deflated Tigers out 1-2-3.

The Swallows won consecutive games against the Tigers for the first time this season. More importantly they got some nagging monkeys off their back and showed themselves and their fans that they can handle the Tigers. The Tigers are certainly a strong team, but one that can be beaten by the Swallows.

Notes

  • Aoki had his third straight multi-hit game and is 11-for-24 in his last 5 games.
  • The Swallows will face the Tigers for game 3 tomorrow night. We suspect that Shichijo, who pitched a scoreless 6 innings in ni-gun last Sunday, will be the starter for the Birds.
  • The Tigers will likely send out Messenger who has a 4-1 record against the Swallows this season.

Kawabata and Kyuko enjoy winning.

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.

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