May 13th 2014, @ Yomiuri

May 13th, 2014

Tokyo Swallows 6FYG

Yomiuri Giants 4

Streak: Won 1    Last 5: LLLLW

(Iwaki Green Stadium)

W: Akiyoshi (1-3 ; 3.65 ERA)
L: Kubo
S: Roman (2 S ; 0.68)

The Swallows never fell behind in this one, but left it until late to finally overcome their opposition and snap their losing streak at four. And in this case Opposition = Opposing Team (the most popular team in Japan) + Umpiring Team (most likely fans of the most popular team in Japan). WELCOME TO THE NPB!

Yamada (2B)1Sakamoto (SS)
Hiyane (CF)2Matsumoto (CF)
Tanaka (3B)3Anderson (LF)
Balentien (LF)4Abe (C)
Yuhei (RF)5Ch*no (RF)
Hatakeyama (1B)6Murata (3B)
Araki (SS)7Kataoka (2B)
Aikawa (C)8Lopez (1B)
Furuno (P)9Sugiuchi (P)

Oh Beavis. I've missed you.

Oh Beavis. I’ve missed you.

After stranding two men in two of the first four innings, Tokyo opened the scoring in the 5th against Sugiuchi. Singles from Aikawa and Yamada brought up Hiruyasu Tanaka, getting both his first start of the season and his first ever playing time as a third baseman. Beavis delivered by hitting a double to the wall in left to bring home two runs for 2-0 Tokyo.

Alas two doubles and a single in the bottom of the inning tied things up for Yomiuri at 2-2.

The Swallows would re-take the lead in the 6th through another unlikely source, with a two-out Aikawa double setting the stage for Furuno to single home the go ahead run for 3-2. And the lead was further extended in the 7th via Coco’s 14th long ball of the season which made it 4-2.

And so we arrive at the bottom of the 7th, which started with controversy. Lopez got the inning started with a towering fly ball to left which crossed over the fence right at the foul pole and onto the grass bank of the bleachers. Balentien (and in indeed Tanaka at third) immediately signalled that it went to the left of the foul pole, while Lopez continued to round the bases. The four members of the umpiring team then had a brief conference as Ogawa left the dugout and moved toward them, before signalling that it was indeed a home run. Now this being a Giants home game, and thus their broadcast, the TV coverage was slow to show a replay of the “Home Run”, and when they did, they made no attempt to slow it down to see if the ball passed behind or in front of the yellow foul pole as is usual in these instances, nor did they show any additional angles other than the original one. But from that one replay, especially looking at where the fans on the grass bank were looking and running to, it did appear that there was a pretty good chance that the ball was foul.


Ogawa meanwhile argued for a replay for a couple of minutes before giving up an returning to the bench, whereupon the head umpire took the mic and basically said that there was no issue as to whether it was fair or foul because they decided in their conference that it was a home run. Cue cheering orange minions in the stands, Balentien shaking his head with disbelief in the field, and a 4-3 scoreline. Furuno would get two outs before getting switched for Kyuko after allowing a single to Matsumoto. Kyuko would give up another two hits and we were all square once more at 4-4.

It turns out that there seems to be a bit of grey area here with regard to video replays, in that fact that they are only allowed in the home stadiums of the 12 pro teams in Japan, and as this was being held in a provincial stadium, no dice. Now I’m not clear if that means they are prohibited from doing a replay at all, or they are not obliged to do one (ie down to the umpire’s discretion) if in fact they have the facilities to do one at all. But either way, it seems awfully inconsistent and unfair that some games can benefit from video review and some cannot, depending on where the home team deems to hold the game. Furuno lost out on a chance for his third win, and thus $$ come contract renewal time.

Kawabata in the 9th

Kawabata in the 9th

Luckily for my sanity (and my local Yomiuri newspaper delivery depot), the dubious homer was ultimately moot for everyone bar Furuno, as the Swallows took the lead for good in the 9th. A one-out walk for Balentien was followed up by Yuhei hitting one off reliever Kubo, with the ball being deflected far enough to allow Yuhei to pull up at second with Coco now at third.

Hatake was intentionally walked to juice the bases which brought up a pinch-hitting Kawabata, who poked one through the infield to right to make it 5-4. Aikawa then struck out swinging for out number two, which meant Morioka was summoned from the bench to work a five pitch walk and it was 6-4.

After Akiyoshi had worked a perfect 8th, Roman did the same in the 9th for a 6-4 Tokyo Final.

Game Notage

  •  Furuno’s final line: 6 2/3 IP / 101 P / 10 H / 0 K / 2 BB / 4 ER. He wasn’t involved in the final decision and his record remains at 2-2 with his ERA now at 4.50.
  • Akiyoshi earned his first pro win in relief.
  • I delayed publishing this report until I had a chance to watch the replay of that HR once more on Pro Yakyu News. Armed with the high technology of a remote control with a pause button, technology that clearly hasn’t made it to Iwaki yet, the white ball can clearly be seen to pass in front of (to the left of) the yellow foul pole. So foul.
  • Fuck Yomiuri.
  • Fuck these umpires.
  • Tomorrow will see the teams move to Hitachinaka in Ibaraki for game two of the series. Ishikawa will take the mound to try and maintain his recent upturn in form.
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

  • Kozo

    According to the post-game show I was listening to last night there was no television/replay setup in the umpire room at the stadium in Iwaki. A fact that seemed to surprise the announcers. The umps may be biased but I think they definitely would have looked at the video if it was available if only to cover their asses.

    • Yeah, little was made of it on the TV broadcast, nor on PYN for that matter, which suprised me because I couldn’t believe it.

      They need to sort that out, can’t be too difficult to set up. But like I said, it seems if it’s not at a “regular” stadium, it’s not required/available.

      • Kozo

        Or they can go the MLB route and have all replay decisions be handled by a central office.

  • Featherman

    Did Ueda really get picked off first with the bases loaded for the final out in the 6th or was it just a bad dream?

  • Kozo

    BTW how did Hiroyasu look at third?

    • Decent enough. But my judgement may be clouded by the fact that I was simply happy to see that he is in fact alive and can still play baseball.