July 17th, 2017 @ Yokohama

July 17th, 2017

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Yokohama BayStars 2

Streak: Lost 4 Last 12: LLLLLLLTLLLL

The Swallows came out of the All Star break looking to get their first July win.

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W: Imanaga (6-5); L: Hara (2-6); S: Yamasaki (13)
 Swallows BayStars
1Takahiro Araki (1B)1Masayuki Kuwahara (CF)
2Tsuyoshi Ueda (RF)2Hiroyasu Tanaka (2B)
3Tetsuto Yamada (2B)3Yoshitomo Tsutsugo (LF)
4Wladimir Balentien (LF)4José Lopez (1B)
5Tomotaka Sakaguchi (CF)5Toshiro Miyazaki (3B)
6Yuhei Nakamura (C)6Yasutaka Tobashira (C)
7Naomichi Nishiura (SS)7Takayuki Kajitani (RF)
8Taichi Hirooka (3B)8Shota Imanaga (P)
9Juri Hara (P)9Toshihiko Kuramoto (SS)

The pitching matchup for tonight was Juri Hara vs. Kenta Imanaga. These two pitched against each other at the end of their amateur career in the Tohto League promotion/relegation games. Hara’s Toyo University bested Imanaga’s Komazawa 2 games to 1 to gain promotion to Tohto’s top division. The tonight’s matchup was the first time the two faced each other as pros.

Both pitchers started the game off well. Hara ran into trouble first in the bottom of the third. Hara gave up a single to center to Imanaga. After a fly out, Hara got Kuwabara to hit a soft grounder up the third base line, Hirooka chose not to field the ball thinking that the ball would cut foul (or that he couldn’t make the throw to first) and Hara found himself with two men on with one out. Hara then got Hiroyasu Tanaka to ground out to short, but Nishiura and Yamada weren’t able to turn the ball quick enough to get a double play off the hustling Hiroyasu, so the BayStars had men on the corners with two out. Tsutsugo came up and hit hard grounder right back to Hara. The ball hit Hara on his plant foot as he attempted to field the ball, and while he attempted a throw to first it was off and Tsutsugo got credit for a go ahead RBI single. 1-0 BayStars Hara went to the bench for some treatment, but thankfully he was able to continue and got out of the inning without further damage.

Meanwhile the Swallows bats were having trouble connecting against Imanaga. Through six inning all they had to show for the night was a Yamada single in the first and a Nishiura double in the fifth. Hara kept the BayStars batters from making hard contact and while he gave up a few more hits than Imanaga he was able to limit scoring. The only major mistake for Hara came in the sixth as he gave up a solo homer to Tsutsugo after hanging a fork ball in an eight pitch battle with the slugger. 2-0 BayStars

The pivotal moment in the game came in the seventh inning. Sakagushi lead off the inning with a single, and Nakamura drew a walk. Nishiura advanced the runners with a bunt, and then the managerial chess games began. Iihara was called up to pinch hit for Hirooka, and Alex Ramirez elected to pull Imanaga and bring out the righty Kaga. Manaka then called upon Omatsu to pinch hit for Iihara. Kaga ultimately won the battle as Omatsu blooped a ball into shallow center, and despite a light collision between the center fielder and the second baseman the BayStars came away with the out. With Hara’s spot in the order up the Swallows announced Takeuchi as the pinch hitter. Ramirez brought out the lefty, Tanaka, and Manaka reacted by replacing Takeuchi with Nishida. Nishida drew a walk to load the bases and Patton was called from the bullpen to replace Tanaka and face Araki. Araki wasn’t able to deliver the goods and flied out to right.

Nakazawa and Matsuoka pitched a perfect inning each while the BayStars’ Mikami pitched a perfect eighth to bring the game into the ninth. The BayStars brought out Yamasaki to close things down but Sakaguchi played spoiler by lining a 1-0 pitch into the right field stands. 2-1 BayStars One out later Nishiura lined a single into left but that was all for the Swallows offense as Fujii struck out to end the game. 2-1 BayStars FINAL

Yet another strong pitching performance wasted by poor hitting. The Swallows will try again tomorrow with Hara while the BayStars will start Joeseph Wieland.

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.