9/11/12 – Hanshin (Away)

September 11th, 2012

Tokyo Swallows 2

Hanshin Tigers 0

Streak:   Last 5: WLLDW


W: Roman (9-9 / 2.95 ERA) L: Messenger (7-11 / 2.81) S: Barnette (24 S / 2.19)

Roman rode his luck on the way to his ninth win of the season as Hanshin turned chance-wasting into an art-form. Meanwhile Tokyo’s bats did just enough to eke out a win that puts them back in a tie for that coveted third spot in the CL.

 Swallows Tigers
1Hiyane (CF)1Uemoto (2B)
2Tanaka (2B) 2Yamato (CF)
3Balentien (RF)3Toritani (SS)
4Milledge (LF)4Arai R. (3B)
5Kawabata (SS)5Murton (LF)
6Miyamoto (3B)6Brazell (1B)
7Miyade (1B)7Hirano (RF)
8Nakamura (C)8Fujii (C)
9Roman (P)9Messenger (P)

Tokyo were facing Messenger, who was coming off an excellent complete game shut-out of Yomiuri in his last start. And indeed the Swallows didn’t get a man on base until the 4th, whereupon they settled into the plan of attack that they would use for the whole evening:

Get a man on with no outs => sacrifice an out to bunt him along => see what happens.

In the 4th, the man on was Hiyane with a single to centre, the bunt monkey was Tanaka, and the what happened was Hiyane was marooned at second after a Balentien K, a Milledge HBP and a Kawabata line-out.

In the 5th, the man on was Miyamoto via a walk, the bunt monkey was Miyade, and the what happened was another man stranded at second as Nakamura and Roman both grounded out to end the inning.

And so Tokyo would try their cunning plan again in the 6th, with a little more success. This time as in the 4th, the first two parts of the equation were the same, but this time the what happened was that after a fly-out from Balentien and a walk for Milledge, Kawabata snuck one through the infield to left and Hiyane was home for 1-0 Tokyo. 

Their second and final run of the evening would come in the 8th with Tsuru now on the mound in relief of Messenger. Yuhei was the man on with no outs, getting on after a Toritani error at short. Then it was Hiyane’s turn to be bunt monkey before Tanaka singled to put men on the corners. Balentien then hit one to deepish left, which was good enough to bring Yuhei home on the sacfly for 2-0.

Roman meanwhile, didn’t have one of his better nights, while Hanshin’s formula was generally:

Put one man on => allow Roman to fill the bases via the four ball/occasional dead ball => see what happens.

Fortunately for Roman and the Swallows, the what happened was that Hanshin stranded the runners. ALL of them.

In the 1st a lead-off double and two walks loaded the bases with one out, only for Murton to line-out and Brazell to strike out ending the inning.

In the 5th, a two-out walk-single-walk combo loaded the bases again, but Arai the younger (ATY) could only ground out to short.

And most miraculously of all in the 7th, with Roman looking all kinds of shaky on the mound and with his control sporadically deserting him completely, a single-dead ball-walk combination (with a wild pitch thrown in for good measure) loaded the bases with one out. Again it was ATY who came to the batter’s box, and again he couldn’t deliver, hitting into a 5-4-3 double play (started by some Miyamoto excellence at third) to end the inning.

With Roman now in line for the win, Yamamoto relieved him in the bottom of the 8th, making his 40th appearance of the year in the process. Hanshin’s wastefulness continued as Murton got aboard with a single to lead off the game, but Brazell could only put up two red lights on the board as he it into another Tigers double play. But they weren’t done yet as Hirano and Fuji hit singles to put another two runners on, but a pinch-hitting Hiyama was not the answer as he hit a grounder to first to end the inning.

And that was pretty much that for the hapless Tigers as Barnette worked a fairly straightforward hitless 9th, the only blot being Toritani walking for the FOURTH time in the game. Toritani leads the CL in walks by quite some margin which is all fine and dandy, it would be helpful for their no,3 guy to actually, you know, hit, once in a while too. Actually no, this is Hanshin we’re talking about, so I wish him nothing but pain and eternal misery. 2-0 Tokyo Final.

Kawabata opens the scoring in the 6th


  • Roman’s final line: 7 IP / 103 P / 5 H / 4 K / 5 BB / 1 HBP / 0ER. He did REALLY well in that dicey 7th to hold his nerve despite him obviously running low on batteries and having sporadic complete losses of control.
  • Tokyo’s defense tonight was exceptional, both infield and out, and was a big reason for all those goose eggs put up on the Tigers’ half of the scoreboard.
  • While on that topic, Balentien made a superb diving catch of a Fuji flyball to right to end the inning in the 6th. There was a man on second at the time and that would have tied up the game had he spilled it/not made it. Huge play.
  • Hanshin still lead the season series 9-7.
  • With this win, Tokyo move 7 games ahead of the Tigers who still languish in 5th. They also pull level in a virtual tie for 3rd place in the CL. Hiroshima are currently enduring an away series at Tokyo Dome.
  • Tokyo manager Junji Ogawa will be manager for at least another year, as he signed a one-year extension to his contract this past weekend. Good decision all-round there, in the opinion of this writer at least.
  • Tomorrow’s starters will be Tateyama vs Kubo. Game starts at 6pm as usual.

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