9/3/11 – Yomiuri (Home)

September 3, 2011

Yomiuri Giants  7

Tokyo Swallows  10

Streak: Won 3  Last 5: LLWWW

(Jingu)

What do get when you mix together solid hitting, shoddy relief pitching, and a typhoon? Why, just another early September game at Jingu of course.

 Yomiuri Tokyo
12B Fujimura1CF Aoki
21B Kemei22B Tanaka
3CF Chono3SS Kawabata
4RF Takahashi41B Hatakeyama
5SS Sakamoto5RF Takeuchi
6C Abe63B Miyamoto
7RF Ramirez7LF Iihara
83B Furuki8C Aikawa
9P Tohno9P Yoshinori

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Yomiuri0000200417160
Tokyo01410022X10130
W: Yoshinori (7-6) L: Tohno (6-9; 2 saves)

This game went on for ever and ever. The rain delay helped stretch things to four hours and three minutes. Well, that and the late-inning field day that Yomiuri had on our relievers.

But a win is still a win, and it was nice to see the team score with a bit more regularity.

Many of us in the stands were worried that Yoshinori would walk three or first guys in the first inning, as he seems so fond of doing, and that we’d be playing catch-up for the first few frames. But after allowing a single to the first batter he faced, Yoshinori buckled down and didn’t let another runner on base until the beginning of the fourth.

And get this–Yoshinori didn’t issue a single walk during his seven innings of work. Yes, you read that correctly.

Not only that, but Yoshinori was also able to make a difference at the plate.

In the bottom of the second, Tokyo started a two-out rally thanks to an Iihara walk and an Aikawa single to right.

Yoshinori then stepped up to the plate and hit a soft blooper over the infield’s head to score Iihara. 1-0 Tokyo.

The lead was supplemented mightily in the third inning thanks to a Tanaka walk and Kawabata’s second home run of the season. 3-0 Tokyo.

Yoshinori reacts after striking Chono out in the fifth.

Hatakeyama followed that with another walk, and then two outs later, Iihara and Aikawa drove in one run apiece care of a double to left and a single to center, respectively. 5-0 Tokyo.

But the home crowd’s elation was soon tempered when Aoki led off the fourth by getting beaned in the right hand by an inside pitch from Hoshino. He was immediately removed from the game, and Miwa took his place on first base.

But even Ogawa’s decision to have Tanaka Tak-bunt Miwa over to second with a five run cushion couldn’t keep the Swallows bats from continuing the momentum from earlier innings. Kawabata came through once again with a single to left that plated the fleet-footed Miwa from second. 6-0 Tokyo.

Good news: Aoki’s injury has been diagnosed as a contusion. Apparently there are no fractured bones in his hand.

Yoshinori finally lost his footing in the fifth when the Giants were able to cobble together two runs off of four base hits. 6-2 Tokyo.

But the Swallows got things going again in the bottom of the seventh. Hatakeyama led off with a very rare (for him) infield single, and then Takeuchi drew a walk. Miyamoto then sacrifice bunted the two runners over, and then, mysteriously, Yomiuri intentionally walked Iihara in order to get to Aikawa.

This was an interesting gamble on Hara’s (Yomiuri’s manager) part because Aikawa already had two hits in his first three plate appearances. It turned out to be a bad decision as Aikawa singled to center and both Hatakeyama and Takeuchi were able to trot home. 8-2 Good guys.

Then things started to get a little out of hand.

Barnette took the mound for the start of the eighth inning and promptly gave up a solo home run to Yomiuri’s first batter, Chono, on a 2-0 outside heater.

One out later, Tony gave up consecutive doubles to Sakamoto and Abe with another run scoring as a result. Barnette then got out number two by inducing Ramirez to fly out to second base, but he then conceded a fourth hit to Furuki which brought Abe around to score.

Matsuoka then took the mound and picked up right where Barnette had left off. He walked pinch-hitter, Tani, on five pitches, and then he allowed an RBI single to Ohmura for the fourth and final run of the inning (all charged to Barnette). Kyuko was finally called in to throw just one pitch and record the final out. 8-6 Tokyo.

But the birds showed some spine and put another couple of runs on the board in the bottom of that inning to dilute the potency of Yomiuri’s half of the inning. Hatakeyama hit an RBI single to the fence in left, and then Takeuchi hit his first homer of the season, a solo shot off of Takagi, to cap the Swallows scoring at 10 runs. 10-6 Tokyo.

Lim was then called in to take care of the non-save situation and showed that he has yet to regain his old form.

Tohno didn't even last three full innings.

He allowed three consecutive two-out hits (the third of which was an RBI double) to let Yomiuri claw one back in the top of the ninth, but luckily that was as far as the visitors could get. 10-7 Final.

So Yoshinori came away with the win after his very impressive performance on the mound even though the bullpen endured a bit of a crisis. He gave up two earned runs from eight hits and struck out seven. His pitch count reached 111, and his record now stands at 7-6 while his ERA moved slightly to 2.86.

The other very positive thing that we can take from this game is that the offense is capable of some good run production when a couple of players are in a groove.

On offense, Aikawa went 3-4 and amassed three RBIs. Kawabata also chipped in with three RBIs by going 2-4, and Takeuchi added another RBI in his own 2-4 night at the plate (plus one walk).

Iihara also deserves credit for drawing three walks (one intentional) and doubling in a run. Tonight’s game was a huge boost to his OBP.

Game three of this series is scheduled for tomorrow night at 6 PM.

Notes:

The only players in the starting lineup to not record a base hit were Aoki and Miyamoto.

This game was the first time this season that a non-Japanese player was not in the starting lineup.

The Swallows drew six walks and one HBP in this contest.

About Christopher Pellegrini

Christopher is a budding sabermetrician and long-time supporter of Tokyo's more lovable team, the Swallows. He has publicly volunteered, several times, that he plans to buy the team at some point in the future. When he finally runs the joint, it is likely that he will fine any player who swings at the first pitch or sac bunts (unless it's a pitcher, of course). Follow him on Twitter: @chrispellegrini