Jul 26th 2013, @ Hiroshima

July 26th, 2013

Tokyo Swallows 5 Hiroshima Carp logo clean

Hiroshima Carp 6 

Streak: Lost 1    Last 5: LLLWL

(Mazda Zooooom Zoooooom Stadium Hiroshima)

W: Imamura 2-2; 3.70 ERA)
L: Yamamoto (1-3 11S; 3.86)

Muranaka went deeper into a game than he has done for quite some time, but it was to no avail, as the bullpen, along with some questionable calls from the management along the way conspired to see that the Swallows fell to their sixth loss in their last seven games after a marathon game in Hiroshima.

Yamada (2B)1Lewis (RF)
Ueda (CF)2Kikuchi (2B)
Milledge (LF)3Maru (CF)
Balentien (RF)4Kila Bees(1B)
Kawabata (3B)5Soyogi (SS)
Hatakeyama (1B)6Hirose (RF)
Morioka (SS)7Dohbayashi (3B)
Nakamura (C)8Aizawa (C)
Muranaka (P)9Ohtake (P)

Muranaka didn’t take long to hand the lead to the Carp, giving up a run off three hits in the 1st. Though it could have been worse and Kyohei did manage to strand two runners in scoring positions with the score at 1-0 Hiroshima.

But the Swallows tied things up in the 2nd, as a Hatake double to right, and a Nakamura grounder to third which passed straight through the legs of Dohbayashi allowed the tying run to score on the error for 1-1.

Alas Muranaka didn’t waste any time in handing the lead back in the bottom of the 2nd as his trademark lack of control was displayed for all to see. A one out single, a walk for pitcher Ohtake (who was attempting to bunt the runner along), a single for Lewis (which made it 2-1 Hiroshima), and another walk for Kikuchi loaded the bases. Maru flew out to short for out number two before Kila hit to right, that was almost snagged by a sliding Balentien, which brought home two for 4-1. Worryingly, Coco appeared to have some discomfort in his left hand post-catch attempt. The third walk of the inning followed for Soyogi which loaded the bases once more, this time for Hirose, but he flew out to right to end the inning with the Carp lead at three.

Fortunately for Muranaka, the Tokyo bats seemed to still be juice from the previous night’s explosion, as in the top of the 3rd consecutive no-out hits from Yamada, Ueda, and Milledge, the last of the three being a home run to pretty much straight-away centre and it was 4-4. It was Lasting’s 13th dinger of the season.

The Swallows came close to taking their first lead in the top of the 6th. Kawabata got on base to lead off the inning via another infield error, this time from Soyogi at short. Hatake then hacked one to the outfield in left, with Lewis misjudging the bounce and letting the ball roll past him to the outfield wall. Kawabata rounded third for home, but he was just beaten to the plate by the ball, with catcher Kura (in for Aizawa on defence) blocking the plate well for the out.

With Nagakawa replacing Ohtake on the mound for Hiroshima in the 7th, another chance came Tokyo’s way. Yamada hit his third single of the game to put one on with one out. Ogawa then made the questionable call to get Ueda (2 for 3 to that point) to Tak-bunt the runner along, which he did for out number two which brought up Milledge. Yamada made it to third on a wild pitch, but Milledge grounded out to short to strand him there.

Muranaka meanwhile, to his credit, settled down after that messy 2nd inning, allowing just the one more hit through to the end of the 6th. But after allowing a two-out single to Kila in the bottom of the 7th on his 111th pitch of the evening, the call was made to the ‘pen and Tony Barnette appeared in his place. With Akamatsu also replacing Kila on first, and promptly stealing second, the pressure was on for Barnette coming off a fairly horrific outing against Yokohama just before the AllStar break. But despite walking Soyogi on five pitches, Tony kept his cool striking out Hirose looking to get out of the inning with the scores tied, and with Muranaka safe from a seventh loss of the season.

Yokoyama took the mound in the top of the 8th for the Carp. Balentien walked and was replaced by Miwa to put a bit more speed on the base paths. Miwa advanced to second on a Kawabata ground out to short. Hatake then hit for the third time in the evening, hitting one back to the pitcher that Yokoyama could only get a tip of a glove to, and men were on the corners with one out for the pinch hitting Keizo Kawashima. But not for the first time this season, Ogawa then made the boneheaded call for a suicide squeeze bunt, which Keizo laid down, but Miwa was easily out at home for out number two. Another chance came though, as Nakamura walked to load the bases, and to the plate came Miymoto, in for Barnette. But Shinya could only manage to fly out to right to end the inning, the conclusion of all this being ENOUGH OF ALL THIS SQUEEZE BUNT SHIT GODDAMIT. WE’RE CURRENTLY THE SHITTEST TEAM IN JAPAN SO CUT ALL THE CUTE SHIT OGAWA, LET THE GUYS SWING THE BAT PLEASE. FOR FUCK’S SAKE PLEASE.

And with that golden chance wasted, you all know what’s coming next. Yep, bullpen roulette, and this time it was Kiya’s turn to royally fuck things up, which he did by giving up a solo home run to Dohbayashi for 5-4 Hiroshima. Kiya stayed in to get one more out before Emura appeared in his place, to give up a double to Iwamoto. He then struck out Lewis before walking Kikuchi to put two on for Maru. Araki made a trip to the mound, but Emura was given the chance to get out of the inning. A pick-off attempt was made to second, with Keizo clearly tagging the chubby Iwamoto before he scrambled back to the base, but hey, this is the 2013 Swallows we’re talking about, nothing goes our way. Emura failed at his task by walking Maru to juice the bases, and he was yanked in favour of, gulp, Matsuoka. And the law of averages states that even Matsuoka can get the job done once in a blue moon, and he did so by getting pinch hitter Matsuyama to ground out into his glove and the seemingly decisive inning was over.

All that was left was for Mickolio to come in to face the top of the Tokyo order in the top of the 9th, but Tokyo weren’t quite done yet. A lead off single for Yamada and a walk for Ueda put two on for Milledge with no outs on the board. But Lastings hit into a double play, yet a final chance remained with Yamada on third for Balentien, erm, Miwa. And he a chopper back to the pitcher on the first pitch he saw BUT, BUT, BUT first baseman Iwamoto failed to get his fat ass over to first to cover the base, and the scampering Miwa ended up safe at first, with Yamada home safely for 5-5.

Ishiyama then came in to pitch a nice and smooth 1-2-3 bottom of the 9th including two strikeouts and we were into extra frames.

Imamura pitched the 10th for Hiroshima, and two two-out singles from Nakamura and the pinch hitting Ihara put men on the corners for Yamada. But he couldn’t manage his 5th hit of the evening as he grounded out to second to end the inning.

In came KING OF THE 9TH INNING HOME RUN Tetsuya Yamamoto, but as it was the 10th inning and not the 9th, things would be fine, right? RIGHT! However only as far as home runs were concerned, as a [single => K=> K => single => sayonara single] inning meant it was a 6-5 Hiroshima Final.

072613 Coco

Game Notage

  • Muranaka’s final line: 6.2 IP / 111 P / 8 H / 4 K / 3 BB / 4 ER. While that doesn’t look good, for the 2013 Muranaka, that’s pretty great work right there. Namely the innings pitched stat.
  • After Muranaka, Tokyo used 6 pitchers to get through a combined 3 innings.
  • 14 Swallows hits were ultimately in vain. Yamada (4 for 6 / .304) and Hatake (3 for 5 / .221) were the standouts.
  • Probably a good job this one didn’t go the full 12, as the only remaining pitchers in the pen were Abe, and, for some reason, Ishikawa, fresh off his complete game win against Hanshin the night before.
  • Hiroshima did their bit to help, with a whopping 5 errors over the course of the game.
  • This one lasted exactly 4 hours 30 minutes, and exactly 19,200 folks were there to witness it.
  • Ogawa needs to cut back on all the questionable bunting (see the 7th and 8th innings of this one) as it’s really not helping in any way shape or form. Seems the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree with regard to him and our previous “manager” Takada.
  • Tokyo are now 4 games behind 3rd place Chunichi. And while 3rd-5th are now separated by just 0.5 games, the Swallows need to be careful they don’t fall any further behind. Not that I’ve all that much hope left that we we can squeeze third out of this shambles of a season.
  • The two teams will go at it again tomorrow evening with 2013 TATEYAMA aka Ogawa facing off against Nomura on the mound.

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