9/13/11 – Hiroshima (Away)

September 13th, 2011

Tokyo Swallows  4

Hiroshima Carp 1

Streak: Won 7   Last 5: WWWWW

(Mazda Zoooooom Zooooooom Stadium)

After dispatching the hoodoo that Hanshin had held over them in 2011 with that ultra-satisfying sweep this last weekend, the first series of this new week presented another opportunity to turn the tables on a team that has frustrated Tokyo for the best part of this season.

Us:

  1. Aoki (CF)

    Akagawa - only 21

  2. Tanaka (2B)
  3. Kawabata (SS)
  4. Hatakeyama (1B)
  5. Ihara (LF)
  6. Miyamoto (3B)
  7. Balentien (RF)
  8. Aikawa (C)
  9. Akagawa (P)
Them:
  1. Higashide (2B)
  2. Akamatsu (CF)
  3. Barden (3B)
  4. Kurihara (1B)
  5. Maru (LF)
  6. Hirose (RF)
  7. Ishihara (C)
  8. Kimura (SS)
  9. Fukui (P)

The two young starters kept things under control for the first third of this one, until chances fell to both teams in the 4th. In the top of the inning a one-out Miyamoto double and a Balentien infield hit put men on the corners. But Aikawa could only weakly fly-out while pitcher Akagawa almost snuck one up the middle to open the scoring, but an excellent diving play from Kimura ended the inning.

In the bottom of the same inning a single and a walk put two men on with two outs for Ishihara, but Akagawa was able to strikeout the Carp catcher to keep the scores tied at zero.

And so to the 6th, when the scoring would begin for the Swallows. Back-to-back singles from Miyamoto and Balentien put two men on before Ogawa continued the recent worrying trend by getting Aikawa to lay down a bunt to bring up the pitcher. With the two men now in scoring positions, Akagawa struck out for out number two, which brought Aoki to the plate. He dribbled one up the middle, Miyamoto made it home with ease, while Balentien also scored after a quality catcher-evading slide home for 2-0 Tokyo.

That lead was halved with the bottom of the inning’s first pitch, as Barden clubbed a high fastball almost out of the stadium in left, 2-1.

But that first half of the season Tokyo resilience that seems to have returned in September was displayed in the 7th. With reliever Kikuchihara now on the mound, Kawabata hit a grounder to first, but the pitcher seemed to tweak something in his foot as he tried to cover first, Kurihara had nowhere to throw the fielded ball and Shingo was safely on base.

Ex-Seibu/Yomiuri hack Toyoda then took the mound in place of his injured colleague and he kindly left a forkball right over the plate for birthday boy Hatakeyama, the ball sailed into the leftfield stands and Hatake had himself a 4-1 Tokyo scoreline for his 29th birthday present. It was his 18th homer of a break-out year for the big man, and the two RBIs moved him past Hiroshima’s Kurihara to sit atop the CL RBI table with 73.

After that Oshimoto (2.89) and Matsuoka (2.94) worked a scoreless inning each in relief before Lim (2.20) got the job done in the 9th, despite giving up two two-out singles (the first of which was rather unlucky), for a 4-1 Tokyo Final. It was Lim’s 25th save of the year.

Akagawa (6IP/120P/3H/5K/3BB/1ER) took away his third win of an ever improving season and his record now sits at 3-1/2.02.

The birthday boy celebrates his two-run shot

The Swallows outhit the Carp 10-6, with Aoki (.293), Kawabata (.273) and Balentien (.246) with two each. Aoki seems to be re-discovering the quality player within him, Kawabata is continuing to prove the naysayers wrong by being productive in the no.3 slot, while Balentien seems to have re-discovered his confidence and thus patience at the plate as well as making a great running catch in the field in the 5th.

So positives aplenty then.

With Yokohama beating Yomiuri (get in!!) and Chunichi beating an ailing Hanshin, it is now the Dragons who seem the greatest threat of the ever-fluid second to fifth placed teams, sitting 5 games behind the Swallows in second place. Yomiuri are now 6.5 games behind Tokyo in 3rd, Hanshin 8 games back in 4th, while Hiroshima are 11 games back in 5th. Not quite as close as it was just a couple of weeks ago eh?

The two teams will be back at the same time/place tomorrow evening to do it again with the season series now tied at 8-8.

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

  • TokyoIllini

    It pains me to see an Aikawa bunt work out.