Yakult Swallows-5 Chunichi Dragons-3

Fukuchi and Miyamoto pose with Pink Lady, as they are the only two players old enough to remember the duo.
The first pitch was thrown out by 70's pop group Pink Lady. Yea, I had no idea who they were either, but enjoy their big hit, "Kiss in the Dark" (took some research):

 It actually works better if you let the music play while you read the recap, really adds some flavor. Ok, ok...now to the good stuff. Masanori Ishikawa took the hill looking for his 100th victory. He didn't have his best stuff today. He started shakily, giving up a hit in the first before Morino grounded into a double play to end the inning. In the second his penchant for letting runners on base hurt him, as he gave up the first run of the game. 1-0 Dragons.

Wladimir Balentien quickly got it back however, with his 9th homerun of the season. Even better than the hit were his teammate's reactions in the dugout. They just shook their heads and kinda smiled, as if to say "damn, there goes another one." He's in a zone right now, and it looks like he may have quite a future in the NPB. 1-1.

In the fourth, the Swallows took the lead after a poor throw by Yamauchi on a pickoff attempt allowed Hiroyasu Tanaka to make it to second. Timely hits by Kazuhiro Hatakeyama and Shinya Miyamoto allowed the Swallows to grab their first lead. 3-1 Swallows.

Ishikawa gave a run right back however, as Nomoto took him deep to left field. He gave up a few more hits but escaped the inning allowing just the one run. 3-2 Swallows.

In the sixth, Ishikawa was in a real bind and a deep fly ball to center from Tanishige looked like it might turn the tide but an unbelievable catch by Norichika Aoki saved the lead. He ran full speed towards the fence and as he caught it he slid into the fence. It was the play of the game based on skill and importance.

In the Swallows half, Josh Whitesell walked and was replaced by Kazuki Fukuchi. This seems to be a recurring theme. When Whitesell gets on base late in the game, Fukuchi pinch runs and then replaces Hatakeyama in left while Hatakeyama moves to first. I was surprised to see Josh pulled so early (the 6th) but I cannot disagree with the decision, as it would have been an useful run if Fukuchi scored. He successfully stole his 8th base of the seaosn, but was stranded at third by Miyamoto.

The seventh inning saw the Swallows lead disappear. Tony Barnette allowed a leadoff double to Donoue and after a groundout that moved him to third, Ibata hit a sacrifice fly that almost carried over the fence. It was the first run that Barnette had allowed all season. 3-3.

The Swallows reclaimed the lead immediately. After Ryoji Aikawa walked, Shingo Kawabata bunted him over to second. Yasushi Iihara came through with a double, scoring Aikawa from second. Aoki followed up with a RBI single of his own, giving the Swallows a two run lead, with their bullpen aces Kenichi Matsuoka and Chang-Yong Lim waiting in the wings. It is worth noting that Nomoto made a great catch in center that rivaled Aoki's in difficulty. He saved what would have been another run. 5-3 Swallows.

Matsuoka struggled somewhat, but didn't allow a run. Lim was dominating as usual, slamming the door for his third save on the season.

Ishikawa definitely left more to be desired after allowing 7 hits and 2 walks but the fact remains that he only allowed two runs in six innings of work. This was a classic Ishikawa performance, not spectacular, but he got the job done. He will have to wait until his next start to claim his 100th victory.

Hero: Aoki's catch saved the game. Had it landed, it would have shifted the momentum completely to the Dragons. He also added an RBI single in the go-ahead inning. Iihara gets a mention for his double that gave the Swallows the lead for good.

Goat: I hate to do it since it's the first ER he's allowed all year but Barnette blew the chance to give Ishikawa his 100th victory.
© 2011, copyright Julian Jowise


  1. Not a big deal, but one of the Donoue boys doubled off of Barnette, not reliever Suzuki.
    I like how you put a mistake in to lure lurkers out and prompt us to post - well done!

  2. @Anonymous ahh so I caught a lurker I see..just kidding, that's an honest mistake at 5am so thanks for pointing that out, I fixed it in the post.


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