11/6/11 – CL Climax Series Second Stage – Tokyo vs. Chunichi (Game 5)

November 6th, 2011

Tokyo Swallows 1

Chunichi Dragons 2

Series: Chunichi 4-2 Tokyo

(Nagoya Dome)


Well, it falls to yours truly to pen the last game report of the season. While I’d rather not be doing so just yet, of course, I must also say I’m not crushed by the outcome. Tokyo made it closer to the prize than they have since their Japan Series win in 2001 and, despite a late-season bobble, fluff, and slide, managed to hold on to the top spot for much of the season, giving us denizens of the Jingu bleachers the fun of being top-dog for a while – a rare treat.

After years of fretting over underachieving teams and boneheaded decisions, we got a chance to do a little less second-guessing and a little more crowing over a pack of untested whippersnappers, roughed-up vets, and prime rib not yet in the right metaphor that managed to eke out wins and ties while being outscored by their opponents and discounted by just about everyone but us and themselves.

I’d like to say that’s the sappiest thing you’ll ever see me write, but I’ll do battle with Kozo at the end of this post.

Ladies, gentlemen, and loyal members of the Tsubamegun-dan. . . the game:

 Tokyo Chunichi
1Ueda (LF)1Araki (SS)
2Tanaka (2B)2Ibata (2B)
3Aoki (CF)3Morino (3B)
4Hatakeyama (1B)4Blanco (1B)
5Balentien (RF)5Wada (LF)
6Miyamoto (3B)6Tanishige (C)
7Aikawa (C)7Hirata (RF)
8Morioka (SS)8Ohshima (CF)
9Tateyama (P)9Yoshimi (P)

The game went fast at first. The home plate umpire was prepared to call anything that didn’t actually pass outside the righties’ batter’s box a strike, which created a pitcher’s duel, even though neither Tateyama nor Yoshimi looked as hot as they have on other days. Tateyama only gave up three hits; unfortunately, the third was an Ibata home run to far, shallow left following a walk, which made the score at the end of the sixth inning 2-0 Chunichi.

Tateyama looked dejected as he sat down and Oshimoto took over to get the remaining two outs of the sixth and go 1-2-3 in the seventh. Matsuoka did almost as well in the eigth, giving up a walk, but nothing more dangerous.

In the top of the ninth, Kawamoto doubled, Iihara watched a pitch roll right over the center of the plate to strike out, Tanaka also struck out, and Aoki played hero by driving in Kawamoto with a single. All Hatake had to do was hit, or show off some power. He swung hard. . .

Pop fly foul ball for out three and an end to the 2011 season. 2-1 Chunichi, Final.

We’ll have something to say on the Japan Series.

We’ll also get some end-of-season stuff up to round things out.

For now, I think I can speak for Christopher, David, Kozo, and Scott when I thank all of you who have read this far for sticking with us, commenting, commiserating, and, in this unusually successful year, celebrating with us. We were all ready to take in our first Series games in a decade, but it didn’t happen. This is a situation we know exactly how to handle, though: We’ll get ’em next year.

  • Oogieball

    And so it goes.

    Thanks for all the work this year with the site. Although I only got to see one game in person, I felt like I was there for the whole season.

  • Zunlin

    Thank you so much for all the reports and the nice reading you give us through all the year. Hope to see you again for the next year, hoping that will be the good one 😉

  • TheSerpent

    Keep this up. Means a lot to be able to follow games and enjoy a bit of humour from here in the UK. Looking forward to standing with the Oendan next Spring

  • Anonymous

    The site has reflected the Swallows season. Thank you for all your reports and analysis. While I have followed the Swallows since 2005, it has only been in the past couple of years that I have been able to truly know the team through the efforts of you and your co-writers. Have a great off season and I look forward to reading your thoughts next year !

  • No

    A great series. Just a little better offense and the Swallows coulda at least had a game 7. Fun year and thanks all.

  • Rob

    Thanks for all your hard work with the site and at the park!

  • The season was better than expected, but of course there’s still the “what could’ve been” factor now at the end.
    I’m very happy to have come across your site, and I’ll be looking forward to next year!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the reports all season.  Seriously impressive work.    I really thought we might do it in the 9th.  A Hatake homer then would have been immense.  

    I will say this, the Swallows fans in the stadium were quality.  It was cool meeting and sitting with Swallows from Osaka, Nagoya, Gifu and everywhere else.  And we were LOUD.  I was very proud and like you say it’s been a good season.  Lots to look forward to.

    Bring on 2012!

  • Even though the season ended on a disappointing note (welcome back Fludge!), it was an awesome year rooting for the birds. And this website made it all the more joyful. I really appreciate all the work you guys put into this website, and I will be sure to check in during the off season for more insight.

  • Ochiai had the guts to replace Iwase with Asao, while Ogawa was not heartless enough to pull Hatake at the very last and crucial moment.  Well, I won’t say anymore.   I just want the Hawks smash the creepy Chunichi completely.

    I also want to thank all the wonderful writers of Tsubamegundan for letting us share the great experience of cheering, hoping and praying for our beloved Swallows together in this site.   We’ll come back next year better and stronger!

    • Kozo

      I dunno… Asao is objectively the better choice than Iwase in that situation, but I don’t think the same can be said with replacing Hatake with… I guess Whitesell. It’s easy to over-think these moments but I don’t think any pinch hitter would have put us in a better position to win there.

      • My 16-year-old son who plays baseball has the same opinion as yours.  But Hatake especially in his previous at-bat on that night completely lost himself.  I assume having Hatake or Balentine in that situation was a relief for Tanishige, compared to having slap hitters like Fujimoto just focusing on keeping it alive.   Well, that wouldn’t have helped anyway, because what we needed there was two more runs to go ahead because a tie meant a loss for us.
        Thanks Kozo.

        • Hokkaido chocolate

          I thought Ogawa was right not to let Boo off the hook. He was supposed to perform and now he has to take his share of responsibility for the loss. Hopefully next year the team will be stronger for it.

  • Super fun season, and this site has been invaluable.  Still dizzy from the way things shook out at the very end… can’t help but feel stage two should have been at Jingu.

    Was bummed about their exit, but at least got to patrol center in my Aoki jersey at my weekly softball game: http://i39.tinypic.com/qzm5q9.jpg

    Can’t wait ’til next year.  Hopefully I can make it back to Japan and see a game again in person.

  • Peter Jacobs

    I didn’t discover this site until recently, but I’m glad I did.  I also had the pleasure of joining Kozo and the gang out in the bleachers a couple of times this season, as well as catching the final game last week at Jingu.  Looking forward to next year and hope to catch a few more games!

    Keep up the good work, the site is awesome.

  • Thank you for all the reports! You guys are great!!!

  • Okawari Phil

    Bummer about the Swarrows, I was following the play-offs everyday.
    Get into the Aussie Winter League like me, it helps pass the long winter evenings.
    Are you guys going to follow the Japan Series or aren’t you bother who wins?

    • I won’t watch much of it, but will keep an eye on the games hoping for the utter destruction of Chunichi.

      • Isn’t there a part of you that, for the greater good of the game, wants the idiocy of Ochiai’s dismissal to be driven home in the strongest way possible by a Chunichi win? It would be gravy to the biscuits of Watanabe being publicly embarrassed. Or even biscuits to the thick pork chop of Watanabe’s being publicly embarrassed.

        • Part of me, yes. But I think that idiocy has already been exposed sufficiently, without me having to see Ochiai’s smirking face and his MIND NUMBINGLY BORING TEAM lift the Japan Series too.

          But unfortunately, it seems though you may get your wish, as Fukuoka are doing their usual choking act when it matters.

  • Okawari Phil

    Baseball lover that I am, I can’t say I’m
    especially bothered myself.

    Hawks I suppose.
    See you next spring.