10/15/12 – CL Climax Series First Stage – Tokyo @ Chunichi (Game 3)

October 15th, 2012

Tokyo Swallows 1

Chunichi Dragons 0

Series: Chunichi 2-1 Tokyo (Chunichi wins the series)

(Nagoya Dome)

And so it goes…

The Swallows season, fairly or unfairly, ended on one pitch. A bases-loaded one-out 3-1 pitch by our best reliever to their best power hitter, who was 0-for-8 in the series, ended up deep in the left field stands to turn a 1-0 game into a 4-1 game. With that, a season that started with a 4-0 win, ended with a 4-1 defeat. The following writeup may not be the most coherent or eloquent, but I believe it will at least capture the confused feeling may of us no doubt feel tonight.

W: Asao (1-0) L: T. Yamamoto (0-1)
 Tokyo Chunichi
1Lastings Milledge (LF)1Yohei Oshima (CF)
2Hiroyasu Tanaka (2B)2Masahiro Araki (2B)
3Kazuhiro Hatakeyama (1B)3Hirokazu Ibata (SS)
4Wladimir Balentien (RF)4Kazuhiro Wada (LF)
5Shingo Kawabata (SS)5Tony Blanco (1B)
6Shinya Miyamoto (3B)6Ryosuke Hirata (RF)
7Kazuki Fukuchi (CF)7Masahiko Morino (3B)
8Ryoji Aikawa (C)8Motonobu Tanishige (C)
9Kyohei Muranaka (P)9Masa Yamamoto (P)

The Dragons elected to start 47-year-old Masa Yamamoto and rely on the bullpen to keep the game close enough to give the Dragons enough chance to win the game. While Yamamoto did give up 1 run in the second inning off of a 1 out man on third base timely to Aikawa, the Dragons refused to give up any more runs the rest of the way. Yamamoto and the bullpen relay of Kenshin Kawakami, Daisuke Yamai, and Takuya Asao managed to limit the damage and forced the Swallows bullpen to hold a 1 run lead as they did the night before.

Muranaka, Oshimoto, and Akagawa managed to keep the Dragons off the board for 7 innings but the inevitable finally happened in the eighth. Akagawa led off the inning by giving up a hit to Ohshima (his second hit of the game, and his 9th overall in the series) to lead off the inning. Araki gave the Swallows a free out by bunting Ohshima over the second. The Swallows handed the ball to Yamamoto to face the right-handed Ibata, but after missing 4 balls low in the zone, as many Swallows did tonight, Yamamoto conceded an easy walk on just 5 pitches. The Swallows sensing danger quickly handed the ball to Barnette. Barnette and Aikawa attacked Ibata low in the strike zone but the veteran shortstop wasn’t fooled and drew a walk to load the bases with 1 out. Barnette fell behind 3-0 before he got Blanco to swing at fastball down the middle to make the count 3-1. Unfortunately, the cold-hitting Blanco wasn’t fooled twice and deposited the next fastball in the zone straight into left field for a grandslam homerun that flipped the score 4-1. The damage was done, and despite having another half inning to play, I do not feel that I was the only one feeling that our season had ended…

Blanco’s grandslam effectively ended the season…

The Dragons’ pitchers were far from perfect, having given up 6 hits and 6 walks through the first 7 innings. But the Swallows’ inability to take advantage of those situations ultimately put pressure on the bullpen and tempted fate against a Dragons’ offense that was capable of getting that one big hit. While I still stand by my earlier assessment that the Swallows were a better team than the Dragons. I cannot say that I’m surprised that the Dragons were given a chance to win the series on a single hit. Swallows fans will no doubt we haunted tonight’s game, playing a game of “what if”. But while we won’t concede that the Dragons were the better team, it is also true that we were not so much better that we put ourselves in a can’t lose situation (i.e. 3 runs in 3 games is a difficult way to win 2 games.).

A season in which we probably overcame greater adversity than the previous year ended with less satisfaction. Despite what happened tonight, the Swallows will always be our team and we here at Tsubamegun will continue to cover this team regardless of the final result. While the team’s season ended tonight, we here at Tsubamegun will be bringing you additional content throughout the offesason so please check back often. Chris, Garrett, David, Scott, and I would like to thank all of you who have stuck by us for the 6 months that led to this moment. As all but one team’s fans say at the end of every season, we’ll get’em next year, and we hope you’ll join us on that journey.

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.

  • zunlin

    Thank you guys for all you’ve done through this years. 
    Next year we will be again under the Swallows Flag!
    ps : damn Blanco….

  • Dr. No

    The birds only scored one run a game in the series. Embarrassing.

    • Rob

      Yeah, that’s not going to win many games so I hope Tony’s not taking personally. Can’t win if you can’t score.

      Thanks for creating and running this site/community, guys! Yoroshiku for the future as well.

      • EtsukoKoiso

        I agree.  Even if we won this game, we wouldn’t be able to beat the Giants anyway… I hope next year the Swallows will overcome their physical and emotional vulnerability and get’em at long last at creepy Nagoya dome. 

        Thanks Kozo for the report.  It must have been hard to review after such a shocking result.  I will always be a faithful supporter of the Swallows and Tsubamegun!

  • Jango

    Sad. Anyway, let’s hope things get better next season – scouting/get new players to amek the roster stronger is the only way IMO.

  • Pittpen10

    There will be lots of finger pointing by those who do not get “it” and lots of “looking in the mirror.”
    Not a horrible season, considering that aweful losing streak into double digits, the loss of Balentien for a month or so, and the loss of Miledge down the stretch until Climax “Part One” started.
    Although Tony gave up the big GS to Blanco, he did save our feathery asses on Sunday by shutting down the Dragons in the 8th and 9th.
    I was a little surprised by the silent bat of Tanaka, who came on very strong at the season’s end bring his average from the .250’s to a respectful .270-.280. I think he went 0 – the series.
    Chalk it up as lessons learned and let’s hope for a better season next year.

  • BaseballOogie

    So it goes.

    Get ’em next year, birds.

    Sadly recycled: