03/31/12 Yomiuri (Away)

March 30th, 2012

Tokyo Swallows 6

Yomiuri Giants 3

Streak: Won 2  Last 5: WW—

(Tokyo Dome)

After last night’s strong pitching win, the bats came alive to cover for one shaky inning by Muranaka.

W: Oshimoto (1-0) L: Sawamura (0-1) S: Barnette (S 2)

Both teams came out with the same lineup as yesterday, with sophomore Sawamura pitching for the Giants and Muranaka starting for the Birds.

 Giants Swallows
1SS Sakamoto12B Tanaka
2LF Bowker2CF Ueda
3CF Chono3LF Milledge
4C Abe41B Hatakeyama
53B Murata5SS Kawabata
6RF Takahashi
63B Miyamoto
71B Ogasawara7RF Balentien
82B Terauchi
8C Aikawa
9P Sawamura9P Muranaka

The Giants opened up the scoring in the third inning. Muranaka allowed a walk to Terauchi to start the inning. Sawamura bunted Terauchi over for out number 1. Sakamoto doubled hard to center to score Terauchi and drew first blood. 1-0 Giants Muranaka got Bowker to strikeout swinging for out number 2, and it looked like Muranaka would get out of the inning with minimal damage. Unfortunately Muranaka’s control remained shaky and he allowed a double to Chono that scored Sakamoto. 2-0 Giants The control issues continued, as Muranaka hit Abe in the wrist. With men on first and second with 2 out, Muranaka gave up his third double of the inning to Murata which allowed another run to score. 3-0 Giants Muranaka plunked Takahashi for good measure before finally getting Ogasawara to pop out to end the inning.

Muranaka settled down after that, and went through 2 more innings without too much issue. Meanwhile Sawamura managed to keep things in check through 5 innings, but the Swallows faithful were hopeful that Sawamura had not overcome his inability to finish games. Thankfully that blind faith was rewarded, and the comeback began in the top of the sixth. Yuhei (“you may remember me from such stints as a first round lefty pitcher named Takai”) made his redebut with the top team as a pinch hitter for Muranaka to lead off the sixth. His decision to switch seemed like a good idea as he got a clean hit to center. Hiroyasu followed with a no-doubt-about-it homer to the Swallows fans in the left field stands to get the team to within a run. 3-2 Giants

See what he can do when he's not bunting?

Momentum was slowly swinging back in the Swallows favor, as Sawamura opened the seventh with a walk to Kawabata. Miyamoto laid down a perfect bunt (if there could be such a thing) to advance Kawabata. The Giants obviously wanted to have no part of Balentien’s potential power and pitched to him half-heartedly for an IBB in everything but name. That ended the night of Sawamura and the Giants dipped into their mediocre bullpen and sent Kubo to the mound. Kubo proceeded to walk Aikawa on 4 pitches to load the bases. Yuhei was back to the plate and battled Kubo through 9 pitches but succumb to a low fast ball for the second out of the inning. Kubo couldn’t close the deal as he walked Hiroyasu on 6 pitches and let Kawabata touch home plate. 3-3 All Both teams reached into their respective benches, and the Giants pulled out Yamaguchi while the Swallows pulled out Iihara. The Swallows won the battle of the benches when Iihara smoked Yamaguchi’s second pitch down the left field line for a double to score 2 runs. 5-2 Swallows Yamaguchi did manage to end the embarrassment with a Milledge strikeout, but the damage was done.

Hatake added insult to injury in the eighth with a just barely over the wall homer to left to lead off the inning. 6-3 Swallows Miyamoto also got 1 more hit closer to 2000 (21 more to go) in the same inning. The bullpen relay of Oshimoto, Matsuoka, Masubuchi, and Barnette  locked it down and kept the Giants from even imagining a comeback was possible.

The Swallows will play for the sweep tomorrow, sending Akagawa to face the Giants’ newly acquired man-toy Toshiya Sugiuchi.

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.