11/2/11 – CL Climax Series Second Stage – Tokyo vs Chunichi (Game 1)

November 2nd, 2011

Tokyo Swallows 1

Chunichi Dragons 2

Series: Chunichi 2-0 Tokyo

(Nagoya Dome)

So this is what it’s come down to. The Swallows are back in Nagoya Dome trying to make up for everything they lost there during the home stretch of the 2011 Central League pennant race.

The last time that Tokyo won a game at Nagoya Dome was back on September 25th, but that doesn’t even begin to explain how embarrassing things got for the Swallows. From September 22nd until October 13th, the birds played the Dragons eight times in that dismal place, and they only won once.

And just for good measure, they lost one more contest there on the 19th when Chunichi was resting most of its starters. Akagawa started and Lim took the loss in that one.

So with all that embarrassment fresh in their minds, the Tokyo Swallows have once again headed to Nagoya, this time for a best of seven series that is heavily weighted against them.

Time for some revenge?

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Tokyo000000010160
Chunichi10100000X270
W: Yoshimi (1-0; 1.23 ERA) L: Masubuchi (0-1; 7.71 ERA) S: Iwase (1 Save; 0.00 ERA)

Not with Masubuchi starting. Ugh. He’s so much better out of the bullpen.

 Tokyo Chunichi
1Aoki CF1Araki SS
2Tanaka 2B2Ibata 2B
3Fukuchi LF3Morino 3B
4Hatakeyama 1B4Blanco 1B
5Miyamoto 3B5Tanishige C
6Balentien RF6Wada LF
7Morioka SS7Hirata RF
8Aikawa C8Oshima CF
9Masubuchi P9Yoshimi P

From beginning to end, Masubuchi’s two and one third innings on the mound were eminently hittable. In the bottom of the first, four of the five batters hit hard flies into the outfield. Two of them were caught, but the two hit by Ibata and Morino both landed fair and far from the defense for back-to-back doubles. 1-0 Chunichi.

In the bottom of the second, Chunichi again got a runner in scoring position (Wada on third), but Masubuchi

Masubuchi was throwing meatballs from the very start.

was able to escape by striking out the pitcher.

But the Dragons got him again in the bottom of the next inning. Araki started by hitting a 2-0 low-octane fastball into center, and after he was bunted over, Morino collected his second RBI of the game on a single to center. 2-0 Chunichi.

And that was the end of both Chunichi’s scoring and Masubuchi’s night on the mound. He was relieved by Barnette after throwing only 32 pitches, many of which drifted into the middle of the zone and ended up getting hit hard. He gave up four hits, two earned runs, and had one strikeout and a walk to show for his effort. He also came away with the loss and a bloated second stage playoff ERA (check the box score above).

Barnette quickly induced two pop flies to end the third, and he came back in to pitch the fourth. After walking Wada following an eight pitch battle, Barnette struck Hirata out swinging and Wada got caught trying to take second on the failed hit-and-run. With two outs, Barnette struck out Oshima swinging as well to keep Tokyo’s hopes alive.

Barnette was one of the only bright spots early on.

But the offense wasn’t exactly lighting things up. Tokyo’s best opportunity up to that point was in the top of the third. Aikawa, continuing his form from Monday night’s game, ripped a double off the wall in left-center to set the table for a Masubuchi bunt. After a couple of flubbed attempts, he finally laid down a decent one that allowed Aikawa to safely take third base.

Aoki followed by drawing a walk, but with runners on the corners and one out, both Tanaka and Fukuchi failed to move anyone closer to home.

The birds finally got on the board in the top of the eighth. Aoki’s second hit of the game, a one-out double to right, was followed by a Fujimoto (pinch-hitting for Tanaka) single to left which put men on the corners for Fukuchi. Fukuchi grounded out to short, but Aoki was able to scamper home. 2-1 Chunichi.

And after Lim got through the bottom of the eighth without giving up more than a walk (17 pitches), the Swallows had their work cut out for them when Asao took the mound once again (he had relieved Yoshimi with one out in the top of the eighth).

Miyamoto grounded out to short, and then Balentien worked an impressive nine-pitch walk in which he protected the plate by fouling off three pitches. Morioka then grounded out to second, but luckily Chunichi wasn’t able to turn the double play, and then Aikawa drew a walk of his own.

But then Iwase was brought in to face Whitesell, and he got the Tokyo slugger to ground out to third to end the

Fukuchi stranded runners on the corners in the third.

game.

The offensive standout for Tokyo was definitely Aoki. He went 2-3 with a walk.

After Barnette and before Lim, relievers Matsui, Oshimoto and Matsuoka pitched an inning each.

Game two of this series is tomorrow night at 6PM. As you can probably imagine, it’s a do-or-die situation for the Swallows.

Notes:

Masubuchi gave up more hits (four) than all five of the relievers combined (three).

Both Miyamoto and Morioka went 0-4 at the plate.

In the four playoff games so far, Miyamoto is 1-14 with one RBI (sac fly).

Chunichi’s under-performing third baseman, Morino, went 3-4 at the plate and recorded both of his team’s RBIs.

Chunichi’s second baseman, Ibata, was 2-3 with two doubles.

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

  • Is it just me, or was Masubuchi’s velocity down today? A large portion of his heaters were 135 km/h or less. Only two of his fastballs (that I noticed) were over 140 km/h.

    Hmmm…

  • Pretty standard Nagoya Dome loss: Dragons take an early lead, we have chances to get back in it but can’t quite solve their pitching to do so.

    At least Yoshimi is out of the way, and to be fair, we created more against him than the last time we faced him.

  • I wonder why our guys play timid in Nagoya?   (That obviously affected the judgement of the umpire.)  They look totally different from two days ago…  
    Come on, almost 95% of the people in the country are rooting for the Swallows!!

  • No

    Things start to go back in the Swallows direction starting tonight.
    Let’s tear this whole place down and build it up again.

    This team’s a beating heart and it’s nowhere near its end

  • Keith

    Anyone know if there’s a chance to get a ticket to tonight’s game?  I’m in Nagoya on business, and would love to catch a NPB playoff game.  Looks like the game is sold out, but is it possible to buy a ticket on the street?  Any idea what that would cost?

    • No

      I noticed plenty of empty seats in the early going of last night’s game. I would say go to the gate and try your luck.