Apr 6th 2013, vs Yokohama

April 6th, 2013

Yokohama BayStars 6

Tokyo Swallows 3

Streak: Lost 3        Last 5: WWLLL

(Meiji Jingu Stadium)

With a literal storm brewing at Jingu, many didn’t expect the game to go the distance. Unfortunately the game went the distance and the crowd was not emotionally prepared for the final result.

W:Tsuchiya (1-0) L: Matsuoka (0-1)
S: Yamaguchi (4)

 BayStars Swallows
1Takahiro Ishikawa (SS)1Yasushi Iihara (RF)
2Kensuke Uchimura (2B)2Keizo Kawashima (SS)
3Nyjer Morgan (RF)3Lastings Milledge (LF)
4Tony Blanco (1B)4Kazuhiro Hatakeyama (1B)
5Alex Ramirez (LF)5Yuhei (CF)
6Norihiro Nakamura (3B)6Shinya Miyamoto (3B)
7Sho Aranami (CF)7Ryoji Aikawa (C)
8Kazunari Tsuruoka (C)8Hiroyasu Tanaka (2B)
9Shugo Fujii (P)9Masanori Ishikawa (P)

The prevailing wisdom at the stadium today was that this game was going to be called for rain, it was only a matter of whether the teams would get to the fifth inning to make the game official. While things started out roughly for Ishikawa when he put 2 men on base in the first, he settled down in the subsequent innings. So when Hatakeyama blasted a solo shot to left in the second inning to take the early lead, the crowd figured the Swallows only needed to hold on until the fifth and hoped that the heavy rain wouldn’t come too soon. 1-0 Swallows

Tony Blanco collides with Aikawa at home plate.

Tony Blanco collides with Aikawa at home plate.

The chicken counting was further bolstered in the fourth inning. Ishikawa started to miss his spots and gave up a hit to Blanco and walk to Ramirez to put two men on with 2 out. Nakamura laced a single to right, which Iihara cleanly fielded and threw crisply to home. The ball made it into Aikawa’s glove moments before all 100+ kilos (220+ pounds) of Tony Blanco violently collided with the 86 kilo (187 pounds) catcher. Aikawa held onto the ball, and got the out. Despite staying on the ground for a a bit, he left on his own power and came up to bat in the bottom of the inning. Swallows fans felt they had already overcome the BayStars’ biggest threat and felt victory was near. That perception was fed even more in the bottom of the innign as Aikawa was able to hit a double up the right field line with two men on to strech the lead. 3-0 Swallows

The BayStars got one back in the fifth with a leadoff triple-double combo by Aranami and Tsuruoka. Ishikawa struggled further in the inning by giving up a single and walk, but the BayStars didn’t put up any more runs on the board that inning. 3-1 Swallows

As the Swallows faithful got pelted by a light but steady rain there was faith in an non-existant rain god that the rain would get stronger, and that even if the game didn’t get called early, the BayStars would never capitalize on their chances. The BayStars are supposed to be the worst team in professional baseball, after all. This irrational confidence was finally shattered in the sixth inning, an inning many at the park did not expect to see. As Alex Ramirez came up to bat, many thought the umps were giving Rami-chan a chance to make history and that the game would be called shortly after. Ramirez fouled off lots of pitches off his former teammate, and managed to get favorable calls for the 3 pitches he did take. With the count full after 9 pitches, Ramirez finally got a pitch he really liked and turned on a slider low in the zone. The ball shot like a laser off Ramirez’s bat and many, including Ramirez, thought it would be a sharp double off the wall. But the ball managed to barely clear the fence to give Alex Ramirez his 2000th career hit in dramatic fashion. 3-2 Swallows

Congratulations Rami-chan.

Congratulations Rami-chan.

With the Swallows still in the lead, it was easy to celebrate Ramirez’s accomplishment as the first foreigner to reach 2000 career NPB hits. In a league which limits the number of foreigners and keep them on a short leash, it is a testament to Ramirez’s consistency that he reached the hallowed NPB milestone in the second fewest games in NPB history. Ramirez started his NPB career with a hit against the BayStars as a member of the Swallows, and the team’s decision to not re-sign himlet him go to the Giants is one of the Swallows’ greatest regrets.

The faith that the Swallows would still win the game was finally shattered as the game continued. Ishikawa gave up one last hit to Nakamura before he was pulled for Matsuoka. As Matsuoka warmed up, Araki was clearly having words with the ump over the condition of the mound. Despite the words, the game continued. Matsuoka got Aranami to ground out, and the BayStars gave the Swallows a free out when the elected to bunt Nakamura to second. Matsuoka was replaced with Kyuko when he walked Watanabe who came in to pinch hit. It was up to the lefty Kyuko to finish the inning and, as many believed, the game against the lefty Ishikawa. What the crowd got, however, was a shocking reality check as Ishikawa belted a 1-0 pitch into the right field stands. 5-3 BayStars

Everything that transpired after that point was largely a blur. The BayStars added an insurance run in the eighth, while the Swallows made minimal threats on offense. The game that was never supposed to make it to nine innings, made it to nine innings and BayStars stood as the victors. 6-3 BayStars FINAL

The shock of the game was compounded later in the night as the Swallows learned that Aikawa had dislocated his shoulder after his collision with Blanco which will keep him out of the line up for 2 months. This, combined with the news from earlier in the day that Tateyama was being taken off the roster to re-examine his right elbow, leaves many doubts in the minds of Swallows fans. Not a great day to be a Swallows faithful…

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.

  • Oogieball

    Isn’t it bad enough we can’t beat the blankety blank BayStars, but all this as well?

  • EtsukoKoiso

    Too shocked about Tateyama and Aikawa. I’m speechless.

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