9/24/11 – Chunichi (Away)

September 24th, 2011

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 2

Chunichi Dragons 3

Streak: Lost 4  Last 5: TLLLL

(Nagoya Dome)

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W: Asao (5-2) L: Lim (3-2)

Another day, another heart-breakingly close loss to the Dragons in Nagoya.

 Swallows Dragons
1CF Aoki12B Araki
22B Tanaka2SS Ibata
3SS Kawabata33B Morino
41B Hatakeyama41B Blanco
5RF Balentien5C Tanishige
63B Miyamoto6LF T. Donoue
7LF Iihara7RF Nomoto
8C Aikawa8CF Oshima
9P Masubuchi9P Soto

The Swallows got their points early as Kawabata managed a two out single off Soto, which Hatake followed with his 21st home run of the season. 2-0 Swallows Apparently Hatakeyama’s home run was the 45,000th in Central League history, a number that is ultimately meaningless and arbitrary. Those back-to-back hits would account for 40% of the team’s hits tonight, and 33% of the team’s baserunners. With offensive numbers like that, it falls on the pitching to win the game.

Masubuchi managed to limit the damage caused by his 4 hits and 4 walks allowed in the night. However, Masubuchi did allow a run after Oshima made Masubuchi pay for issuing two walks, with a double to score one. 2-1 Swallows Yet despite the constant stream of baserunners, Masubuchi managed to hand off the game to Kyuko with 2 outs in the sixth having only given up 1 run. Kyuko did his job by getting the final out in the sixth by picking off Morino on second to preserve the Swallows’ razor thin margin.

However, the next cog in the reliever relay failed the Swallows, as Kosuke Matsui allowed a lead off homer to a pinch hitting Hirata to open the seventh. 2-2 All Matsui made things even hairier by allowing 2 more hits to go with 2 outs. Hidaka wasn’t much relief as he walked Morino to load the bases. Matsuoka took over for Hidaka and got the final out to preserve the tie. Matsuoka proceeded to pitch a cardiac eighth as he allowed two base runners, but managed to clean up his own mess to keep the score tied for Lim in the ninth.

With the top of the Dragons’ order batting to start the ninth, it was incumbent on the Swallows’ highest paid player to preserve the tie to give the Swallows some semblance of dignity. To that end Lim allowed an infield single to Araki, who moved to second on an Ibata bunt for out number 1. The Swallows elected to intentionally walk Morino to get the double play in order and face Blanco. Lim managed to retire Blanco on a fly to center to get within an out of preserving the tie. But all it took was one pitch and one swing of the bat by Tanishige to ruin the night for the Swallows. Tanishige got a line drive single to left that scored Araki for the Dragons’ 6th sayonara victory of the year. Iihara had a chance to throw Araki out, but his throw wasn’t even close. 3-2 Dragons It was only the Swallows’ second sayonara loss of the year.

With 3 straight losses to the Dragons the Swallows saw their league lead shrink to just 1.5 games.

The Dragons celebrate their win. Hopefully the Swallows would like to celebrate their own wins again.

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.

  • Heartbreaking is the right word. These games have been utterly, utterly painful to watch.