Hanshin Tigers-4 Yakult Swallows-1

This guy...sucks.
Well the unbeaten run is over. And I'm going to blame it on this ^ guy. Does he deserve it? Probably not. But there is very little he could have done worse, save crashing into Aoki in center and sending him to the hospital. Another hitless day, another double play that ended a potential rally, there's nothing that this guy can't do, as long as it hurts the team. I had to lead the recap somehow, and venting about Yasushi Iihara seemed appropriate enough.

Really though, Yasutomo Kubo deserves all the credit. Minus a few mistake pitches, he was marvelous. He went 8 innings allowing just one run, and just a handful of baserunners. The Swallows displayed a new look lineup. It included Ryohei Yamamoto at catcher, and Kazuhiro Hatakeyama at third, with Josh Whitesell manning first base. It will be interesting to see what happens when Shinya Miyamoto plays. I would like to see Hatakeyama in left because his defense at third let us down big time today. A 3-4-5 combo of Hatakeyama, Whitesell, Balentien, will be nice to see whenever Junji Ogawa comes to his senses.

Kawamoto started the Swallows off with a solo homerun. He's been swinging well all season and Ryoji Aikawa, the starting catcher, has struggled mightily. Aikawa has done a great job with the pitching staff so he is the better option at this point. 1-0 Swallows.
 In the 4th inning, Lin came through with a two out two run double to give the Tigers the lead. 2-1 Tigers.
Hitoshi Yamamoto didn't pitch that poorly but he showed his immaturity in the fifth. After getting two quick outs, he allowed a hit and proceeded to walk the next two batters. Takahiro Arai, one of my players to watch, hit a sizzling ground ball thorugh the left side that gave the Tigers all the runs they would need. I think Miyamoto may have had a shot at it but it would have been a tough play. 4-1 Tigers.

The rest of the game went by pretty quickly. In the seventh, after Hiroyasu Tanaka got on with a single, Iihara erased him with a double play. In the eighth, the Swallows had another chance, but Miyamoto's fly ball was caught by Matt Murton.

This is exactly what I outlined in the preview. The young pitching allowed the Tigers to get comfortable at the plate, and they hit the ball hard today. They probably deserved more than 4 runs, but with Kubo's performance, they didn't need any more. The Swallows will need to regroup before taking the field for tomorrow's day game.

3 Hitter Watch- I already said everything I have to say about him. The thing is, I actually kind of like him. He definitely possesses the most upside out of the left fielders. Hopefully since Whitesell is back, Hatakeyama can take over in left. Grade: F...again.

Hero: Kubo had a great game and kept the Swallows scoreless take away one swing by Kawamoto. Arai also came up big for the home team, he had a double, a single, and 2 RBI.

Goat: Iihara...what more can I say about this guy. The left field options are few, and he had a pretty decent end-of-season last year. Let's hope he pulls a Sho Nakata and goes on a big hitting streak right about now.

Notes: Whitesell didnt look very comfortable in his first two at-bats but his double in the eighth inning was very encouraging. It was a beautiful swing and the ball almost cleared the fence...Aoki still has yet to find the consistency that we need from him...he went 0 for today.

© 2011, copyright Julian Jowise


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