10/4/11 – Hanshin (Away)

October 4th, 2011

Tokyo Swallows 3

Hanshin Tigers 9

Streak: Lost 1     Last 5: WLLWL

(Kyocera Dome)

W: Nishimura (1-0/2.18) L: Ishikawa (9-8/2.72)

Tokyo’s season-defining twelve game stretch got off to the worst possible start as their ailing pitching staff were knocked about by Hanshin to the tune of fourteen hits and nine runs. Meanwhile in Nagoya, an almost inevitable Chunichi come from behind win against Hiroshima reduced the Tokyo lead to a solitary game.

 Us Them
1CF Aoki1CF Hirano
2LF Fukuchi22B Yamato
3SS Kawabata3SS Toritani
41B Hatakeyama43B Arai
5RF Balentien51B Brazell
63B Miyamoto6RF Murton
72B Tanaka7LF Kanemoto
8C Aikawa8C Fujii
9P Ishikawa9P Akiyama

After a spell out with pneumonia (yes, you read that right. The same illness is also responsible for Kyuko’s current, and possibly season ending, absence) Ishikawa started and looked laboured from the off, but he got through the 1st inning unscathed after a lead-off single from Hirano, stranding the runner at third.

And he found himself with a lead in the top of the 2nd against Hanshin starter Akiyama. Two singles from Balentien and Miyamoto got the inning off to a promising start, and the inevitable Tanaka sac bunt moved them both into scoring positions. Aikawa then hit deep enough to right for a run scoring sacfly, 1-0 Tokyo. After Ishikawa worked himself a walk, Aoki could only ground out to short stranding the two men on the corners.

But the lead wouldn’t last. In the bottom of the inning, two one-out singles for Murton and Kanemoto put two men on. Fujii then quite uncharacteristically came up with a timely hit (the beginning of what would prove a fruitful night for the sub-par catcher), through the infield to right, scoring a run to make it 1-1. Balentien then fluffed his pickup of the ball, allowing Kanemoto to make it to third on the error. An error which would prove costly, as Kanemoto would score on the subsequent groundout to Ishikawa, as the Swallows failed to turn the 1-4-3 double play, 2-1 Hanshin.

The Swallows showed they had a bit of life left in them though, as a Kawabata walk, a Hatakeyama single and a Balentien sacfly made it 2-2 in the 3rd.

After Ishikawa registered his first 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the 3rd, the game was effectively over as a contest after the 4th. A Brazell solo homer led off the inning for 3-2 Hanshin, before two hits put men on the corners with one out. Ogawa had seen enough of Ishikawa as he summoned the bullpen into action. And in all you need to know about the current state of said bullpen, Hashimoto, a farm team arm at best, took his place on the mound tasked with trying to get out of the jam. Cue a walk, a single, a sacfly and a 5-2 scoreline.

Hashimoto (4.40) was gone, with Katoh appearing in his place. And he managed to get Toritani to ground out to first to escape the inning.

Two walks and two hits in the 5th made it 7-2, with Katoh (9.00) then making way for Matsui who gave up another hit to make it 8-2 before getting out of the inning.

And Hanshin’s final run came in the 6th off Matsui (4.39), as a walk, a single and a run-scoring double play from Brazell brought up a 9-2 scoreline.

The only positive of the night was forgotten man Ichiba (5.40) working hitless 7th and 8th innings.

Tokyo’s bats were held to just two hits from the 4th to the 8th innings by the Hanshin bullpen (Akiyama only lasted 2.1 innings), and they added a consolation run in the 9th off reliever Kobayashi, as a walk for Morioka (in for Miyamoto), a single for Nakamura (in for Aikawa) and a RBI hit for Yuichi (in for the pitcher) made it 9-3 Hanshin Final.

Ishikawa took the loss for his brief 3.1IP/7H/2K/0BB/5R/4ER shift.

The two teams will meet again tomorrow evening. Things are not looking good, at least to these eyes. At all.

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