October 3rd, 2015
Hiroshima Carp 4
Streak: Won 2 Last 5: WWLWW
Fresh off their Central League pennant-clinching win over Hanshin at Jingu on Friday night, many expected the Swallows to be a little, well, hung over. And with Johnson on the mound for the Carp, having won his four previous decisions, Tokyo’s offense would have been excused for taking the night off. But this is 2015, and these Birds are different.
|W: Tokuyama (2-1; 2.74 ERA)
L: Heath (3-6 4S; 2.36 ERA)
S: Barnette (3-1 41S; 1.29 ERA)
Perhaps this was retribution for Hiroshima spoiling our celebration plans on Tuesday night. Now the Carp are in a must-win situation for their final two games of the season. Crucially, they have to beat Hanshin at Koshien tomorrow night if they want to make the playoffs.
|1||Ueda (CF)||1||Maru (CF)|
|2||Kawabata (3B)||2||Kikuchi (2B)|
|3||Yamada (2B)||3||Matsuyama (RF)|
|4||Hatakeyama (1B)||4||Eldred (LF)|
|5||Balentien (LF)||5||Arai (1B)|
|6||Yuhei (RF)||6||Tanaka (SS)|
|7||Ohbiki (SS)||7||Abe (3B)|
|8||Nakamura (C)||8||Ishihara (C)|
|9||Ishiyama (P)||9||Johnson (P)|
Your boys made things uncomfortable for Johnson in the top of the first. Kawabata ripped a one out single up the middle, and Yamada plopped one in center on the very next pitch putting runners on the corners. Hatakeyama popped out to the catcher in foul territory for out number two, but Balentien lined a 1-2 heater into right to bring home the game’s first run.
Ishiyama started his half of the first strongly by fanning Maru on three pitches. Kikuchi grounded out to the pitcher a few pitches later, but things started to head south when Matsuyama got plunked on the first pitch of his at bat.
Eldred took advantage of the opportunity and pulled a 2-0 slider into the right field stands.
The game sped up a bit after that. Ishiyama was perfect through the fifth inning, and Johnson stayed out of trouble for most of that time as well.
Hiroshima scored another run in the bottom of the sixth when Maru scored from third on Matsuyama’s infield single to third.
And the home team added an insurance run in the seventh when Akamatsu (pinch-running for Arai) scored from first on Tanaka’s double to left off of first Tokyo reliever, Matsuoka.
But the Swallows put together a big inning in the top of the eighth, sending waves of panic throughout Mazda Stadium. With Ohsera now on the mound, Yamada worked an eight-pitch walk to start things off. Hatake again put the catcher to work with a grounder that was effectively a sacrifice, moving Yamada over in the process. Balentien then struck out swinging (foul tip), but Ohsera gave the birds one more chance when he fumbled Yuhei’s bouncer behind the mound. Imanami, pinch-hitting for Ohbiki (1-3, 1B), capitalized by smacking an elevated 1-0 heater into right, plating Yamada from third.
With runners on first and second, Nakamura bent an 0-1 cutter into right, and Noma donated Hiroshima’s second error of the inning on a wonky throw which allowed both Yuhei and Imanami to score. When all was said and done, Nakamura was resting safely on third. Yuichi popped out to right to end the rally.
Ondrusek and Akiyoshi pitched perfect eighth and ninth innings for the birds, and despite two walks and Nakamura’s third single of the evening, the Swallows were unable to get the deciding run off of Nakazaki.
It wasn’t until the 11th inning that the needed run production materialized. With Heath on the mound for Hiroshima, pinch-hitter Morioka earned a five pitch walk, and Araki Tak-bunted him over to second. Hiyane then popped out harmlessly to first, and Yamada was issued an intentional walk.
But then things went a bit cockeyed for Hiroshima when Heath walked Hatakeyama as well. Heath left the game, and Ichioka took his place with two outs and the bases juiced. Miwa lined a 1-1 fastball into right to score the go-ahead run, and Tokuyama drew a full count walk to force in an insurance run.
Barnette pitched a scoreless 11th to get the save and protect Tokuyama’s relief win, moving Barnette into a tie with Hanshin’s Oh for the CL saves lead with 41.
Akiyoshi’s appearance tonight, his 74th of the season, set a new club record.
Tokyo’s final game of the regular season is against Yomiuri at the Stain Dome tomorrow evening. Yamanaka (6-1, 2.49 ERA) gets the start for the Swallows, while Yomiuri’s underperforming Utsumi (1-1, 6.38 ERA) will get a final chance to demonstrate his post-season viability.
- Tokyo won the season series against Hiroshima 14-11.
- The Swallows are now 12 games above .500 (2 draws) and enjoy a 2.5 game advantage over second place Yomiuri.
- If your birds pull off another 11th inning win tomorrow, it will be the third time in as many evenings, against three different clubs, in three different stadiums. Nobody can remember whether or not that has happened before.