04/25/12 – Chunichi (Home)

April 25th, 2012

Chunichi Dragons 1

Tokyo Swallows 1

Streak: Tied 1  Last 5: WWWWD

(Meiji Jingu Stadium)


Ties are when everyone loses. Both teams lose, the fans lose, ecology loses. Maybe the beer girls win. Well, their managers win.

 Chunichi Tokyo
1Tanaka (2B)1Oshima (CF)
2Ueda (CF)2Araki (2B)
3Milledge (LF)3Hirata (RF)
4Balentien (RF)4Wada (LF)
5Miyamoto (3B)5Blanco (1B)
6Morioka (SS)6Ibata (SS)
7Hatakeyama (1B)8Tanishige (C)
8Nakamura (C)8Donoue N. (3B)
9Ishikawa (P)9Nakata (P)

Tokyo looked a bit better, purely subjectively, but the numbers don’t show it. This game was almost as evenly matched as a tie could be. This particular corner of the Tsubamegun sees ties as being far closer to losses than to wins, so let us begin with a couple of highlights, to gin up the strength to report, shall we?

  • Lastings Milledge is working out very well. Our good cheer at his signing has carried over unabated. He singled, doubled, drew an intentional walk, and happened to be at bat when Ueda scored from third on a wild pitch. He also hit almost equally to left, center, and right and played a mean left field, making an impressive sliding catch and showing good form on every ball hit to left. The guy also has an arm.
  • Ueda is turning out to be solid. If he’d stop using Aoki’s (crappy) music, he’d be a quite suitable new center-fielder.
  • Ishikawa had a reasonably good start, giving up six hits, no walks, and one run vs. five strike-outs in 115 pitches over seven innings.
  • Barnette continues to get his work done efficiently and to settle into the role of closer. He gave up a hit, but threw only seven pitches against three batters to finish the ninth.

The game proceeded uneventfully early on, although it is worth pointing out the shades of Takadaism that popped up. To wit: Bottom of the second, the fleet-footed Morioka on second, Hatakeyama on first, Tokyo’s inexperienced, but not-too-shabby catcher, Nakamura, at the plate, to be followed by the pitcher, Ishikawa. Now, Ishikawa hits better than many pitchers, but what’s the smart play here? Surely, it is not to have the catcher bunt, get an out, only to bring up the pitcher. Best case (likely) scenario? The Chunichi defense makes the play at first instead of third and Morioka is on third with two out and Tanaka up. Worst case (likely) scenario? Hatake is on second, Nakamura is on first, and Tanaka is up with two outs.

Luckily, the best case occurred, but this was the double plus ungood sort of small ball – everything comes down to one man in a pressure situation, just like in big ball, only this time you’re not betting on a three-run homer.

The second-inning sac-bunt should be grounds for immediate dismissal.

Tanaka grounded out. Because the Swallows got an out on purpose in order to get to a likely out, the side was done.

The Birds’ run came in the third, and it was good fun.  Ueda tripled to deep center. Nakata, being afraid to pitch to Milledge, threw one so low and away that Tanishige couldn’t get to it and Ueda scored. 1-0 Tokyo.

In the fourth, Milledge made a dramatic sliding catch for out two, then made a routine catch for the third out – the Dragons liked hitting to him.

In the top of the seventh, with two outs, Tanishige hit a solo home run to left to tie the game. 1-1.

In the bottom of the ninth, with one out, Hatake popped one up in the first base line foul territory, a sure catch for Tanishige. Not to be, though, Blanco also went for it and broke up the catch. Tanishige saw it bounce out of his glove. (*Thanks to commenter Jo, and apologies to Blanco.) Hatake popped out on the next pitch.

With no time to start another inning, the bottom of the eleventh brought a bit of drama. After a Miyamoto ground-out, Iihara came in and drilled a liner to left. He was replaced by Noguchi on the basepaths. Hatake grounded out, and Nakamura came up to hit a line drive to center. With two outs, Noguvhi was left with little option but to press his luck and try for home, which he did. He didn’t make it.

Tie game. With this tie, the Swallows remain tied for first with the Dragons, which makes tomorrow good fun. Muranaka (2-0, 1.93/1.29 vs. Chunichi) will face the dreaded Yoshimi (3-1, 1.50/1-0, 0.00 vs. Tokyo).

  • Jo

    in super-slow-motion it looked like tanishige botched hatake’s pop-up without any help from blanco. the ball bounced out of hit glove and hit blanco in the face before they bumped into each other.

    • Jo

      *his glove

      • Fair enough, Jo. I saw the play from the bleachers and, in full disclosure, was rooting for the more satisfying scenario.

  • I want to blame this game on Shiroishi. There was a play in the 6th, when Milledge who was on second base, seemed like he could have reached home plate on a Morioka hit, but stopped running and went back to third.
    Was it because Shiroishi stopped him?  Was the third base coach Shiroishi? I am not sure, but I’d like to blame this game on Shiroishi anyways, because that is all he is good for.

  • Also, what is up with Ogawa-san’s unhealthy man-love for Noguchi? Why is that guy on the top team???

    • Kozo

       Noguchi was recalled on Tuesday to replace Hiyane, who clearly wasn’t cutting it as designated pinch runner.

      •  Yeah, I totally understand Hiyane not cutting it, but why Noguchi? Was he lights out on the farm team?

        • He’s relatively swift, perhaps.

          I like to blame as much as possible on Shiroishi, no matter where he is. He has it coming and has been more than adequately paid to take the brunt of whatever we choose to throw at him for the rest of his professional life.

        • Kozo

          Noguchi had a decent slash line in 21 farm games (.309/.491/.406), but regardless of performance, who else would you pick?

          Fukuchi, probably Ogawa’s first choice is not 100%. Putting Yamada into the game when Kawabata is apparently not available is risky if Morioka went down. We know what we’re gonna get with Noguchi, and having him sit on the top team bench as a pinch runner doesn’t tamper with anyone’s development.

  • Rob

    Yeah, having the catcher bunt to bring up the pitcher. That’s jaw-droppingly… um… ugh….

    Nice night in the field for Milledge.

    I’m not sure what Tanishige does against us at Nagoya Dome, but he seems to own TYS pitching at Jingu.

    Shiroishi: In the Giants series. Two outs, Miyamoto on second and I
    forget who on first, probably Hatakeyama. The #8 hitter hits a grounder
    that gets through to right. And Shiroishi waves forty-something Miyamoto
    around. This was just a grounder directly in front of the RF – not a
    play where he had to backpedal or go to his left/right or anything.
    Miyamoto’s out at home by a laughable span, inning over. AND, bonus, we get the pitcher to lead off the next inning. That one’s pure Shiroishi.

    We’re not scoring a lot of runs as it is, so it’d be nice not to waste opportunities when we get them.

  • EtsukoKoiso

    According to a Pro Yakyu News commentator, probably it was Akihiko Oya, Shiroishi risked it and waved Miyamoto home because it was two outs and  due up next was the pitcher, who wouldn’t do anything anyway.  HOWEVER, Muranaka is batting .200 so far, much better than Yuhei.

    • EtsukoKoiso

      Oops, this Guest’s comment was from me in reply to Rob.

      • Rob

        Hi and thanks. I have to question his judgment there.
        We seem to make a lot of baserunning mistakes (not exclusively associated with Shiroishi). Guys overrunning second, guys failing to advance on fly balls. Three (?) guys getting thrown out trying to steal in the Hanshin series. I hope it’s just a phase.

        I like Yuhei and want the pitcher-to-position-player thing to work, but for a while he had as many runners stranded as he did AB.

        • EtsukoKoiso

          More speed and on-base intelligence!!

  • Highwaythe3rd

    Right on about the ties. Want to see a movement started to call for playing the game out as it should be. There is a surplus of electricity at the times NPB games are played. Also concur on Ueda’s choice tune.

  • Argh, that 2nd inning bunt drove me crazy. 

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