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|Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture Hiroshima Carp
starter John Bale went seven tenacious innings Saturday of three run ball
on ten hits, but reliever Kan Otake allowed the tying run to score and
then Hanshin centerfielder Norihiro Akahoshi cracked a single to right
with two on and two out in the bottom of the 12th at Koshien Stadium off
of Shinji Sasaoka for a 5-4 sayonara Tigers victory. Tsuyoshi Shimoyanagi
started for Hanshin and had another mediocre outing, permitting four runs
on eight hits in six innings.
Credit for the win ultimately went to Tigers reliever Jeff Williams, as he and four others limited the Carp to a total of two hits over the final six frames to help make the triumph possible.
The Carp went out in front in the second, as leftfielder Tomonori Maeda ripped a one out double into the rightfield corner for the first of his three hits and, one out later, third baseman Kenjiro Nomura singled to center to plate Maeda to make it 1-0.
Hanshin responded with a run in the home portion, as rightfielder Shinjiro Hiyama doubled down the rightfield line with one away and, one out later, third baseman Kentaro Sekimoto singled to left to usher Hiyama in with the equalizer.
In the fourth, the Carp pulled ahead when second baseman Greg LaRocca doubled off the centerfield wall and went to third on a groundout. First baseman Kenta Kurihara beat out a little roller toward short and LaRocca hustled across for a 2-1 advantage.
Two innings later, LaRocca singled to right with one gone and, following another out, Maeda drilled a Shimoyamagi slider into the rightfield bleachers to enhance the Carp hegemony to 4-1.
Hanshin would then get back in it in the seventh, as Sekimoto leadoff with a walk but was erased on a twin killing. Yoshinori Okihara, pinch hitting for reliever Rui Makino, singled to center. Shortstop Atsushi Fujimoto reached on an infield hit. Akahoshi spanked one into left for an RBI single. Second baseman Makoto, "tokutenken no otoko (Mr. hit with runners in scoring position)" Imaoka singled to center to slingshot Fujimoto across the dish and shrink the deficit to 4-3.
Next time up, Tigers first baseman George Arias socked one into the leftcenterfield seats off of Otake stands to knot it at 4-4. Otake then struckout the side.
The Osaka contingent then came up in the ninth looking to win it. Fujimoto walked and was sacrificed to second. Imaoka was pitched around and walked. But leftfielder Tomoaki Kanemoto grounded to third and Hiyama whiffed to send it into bonus time.
Jerrod Riggan tossed two perfect innings for Hanshin and the Tigers put two on with two outs in the tenth, but Fujimoto's bullet was flagged down by Kurihara and Riggan thus didn't get a decision.
The Tigers had two on with two outs once more in the 11th, but Arias grounded out to end that opportunity.
Williams fashioned a perfect 12th and now the Central League frontrunners had one more chance. As a hard rain began falling, Sasaoka struckout and induced a groundout for two quick outs. But backup shortstop Teruyoshi Kuji singled to center. Pinch hitter Hiroshi Yagi got behind 1-2 and then singled to left to keep the uprising going. Akahoshi worked the count full and then Sasaoka threw a fastball on the inner half of the plate and the 5'7" speedster laced it to right and Kuji motored home with the deciding run to turn out the lights.
It was Hanshin's first 12th inning sayonara victory since 9/24/2002, when they did it against Yomiuri. Moreover, the Tigers have won seven straight on Saturdays (though they are zero for their last six on Wednesdays).
The 12th inning single was Akahoshi's fourth walkoff knock of his career.
LaRocca went 3-5 and is now hitting .321. Unfortunately, shortstop Andy Sheets is still struggling, taking an 0-5 to decline to .248. Bale, though, is boasting a 2.60 ERA. Now if he can just receive some run support he would really be styling.
Masashi Sajikihara's scoreless streak is now at 8.1 innings with another fine outing for the rookie. And Makino has been unbelievable, as he reduced his ERA to 0.61.
|Tokyo Yakult Swallows rightfielder Billy Martin
mashed his first regular season homer since coming to Japan Saturday and
made it count for the maximum, as it was with the bases loaded to power
the birds to a 5-2 victory over the Yomiuri Giants at Tokyo Dome. Ryo Kawashima
started for Yakult and had at least one man on in most innings, but
his cutter was running like a demon and other than two roundtrippers by
third baseman Hiroki Kokubo, the kyojin weren't able to sustain anything
and the rookie hurler became the only first year man in either league to
ring up a complete game win to this point in the 2004 schedule.
For Yomiuri starter Masumi Kuwata, it was unbelievably the first bases loaded bomb ever hit off of him in his 19 year career. This was his 415th appearance, the overwhelming share of that in a starting capacity. He had been victimized 239 other times by dingers in that span before Martin handed down the ultimate penalty.
With one out in the second, Kokubo notched the first lead of the
game when he crushed a Kawashima delivery into the leftcenterfield seats
In the fourth, Yakult attempted to tie it up when third baseman Akinori
Iwamura singled to right and leftfielder Alex Ramirez singled to left.
However, the next two men flied out. Martin walked to load the bases. But
shortstop Yoshiyuki Noguchi also flied out to sabotage the
Yomiuri appeared poised for another score in the fifth when leftfielder Takayuki Shimizu singled to right and centerfielder Tuffy Rhodes walked. Rightfielder Yoshinobu Takahashi, though, grounded into an inning ending double play.
Ramirez kicked off the sixth with a single to left and first baseman Ken Suzuki scalded a shot into the leftfield corner. Kuwata plunked catcher Atsuya Furuta to pack the sacks. Martin got a 2-0 86mph cutter and rocketed it 440 feet to dead center for a grand slam and a 4-1 Yakult advantage. Kuwata thought it was a good pitch, that all Martin would do with it was tap a ground ball somewhere or foul it off. Missed it by THAT much, Masumi-san!
In the sixth, Yakult second baseman Katsuyuki Dobashi put good wood on a shuuto talking back in toward him and parked it into the leftfield stands to widen his side's lead to 5-1. The Swallows would then load the bases again for Martin, but he struckout and Noguchi grounded out to put the inning to rest.
Yomiuri did almost nothing with Kawashima the last three innings,
as he was touched for only two hits, the last being Kokubo's second
Kawashima was clocked at a personal best 94mph. His father Koji and his grandfather on his father's side was in the stands for the game. Mom Yasuko didn't go because she was too nervous. When Kawashima won his first game, he put the ball on the family butsudan (a Buddhist alter for departed relatives) next to a portrait of his late grandfather on his mother's side, Yoshikatsu. While watching the game on tv at home, Yasuko held a pitcher of her departed dad in her lap. "I wish he could have seen this game, " Ryo Kawashima lamented.
Kawashima wears number 17, which was once worn by Kenjiro Kawasaki before he left for the Chunichi Dragons. Kawasaki won 29 games against the Giants while a Swallow. Team management hopes that Kawasahima can keep that going.
Martin's slam was tghe second by a Yakult player this year.
Furuta was hit twice by pitches in this contest, making it 101 for his career, becoming only the tenth man to transcend the century mark in that category.
Bay Stars starter Scott Mullen and Chunichi Dragons starter Kenshin Kawakami
hooked up in a clasic pitcher's due Saturday and both offenses were brought
to a virtual standstill, as they amassed only eight hits between them.
But Mullen made a mistake to Kawakami, who had four lifetime homers coming
in, and Kawakami slugged it into the leftcenterfield bleachers at Nagoya
for the only runs of the match and a 2-0 victory. Kawakami suffocated the Stars on three hits, two singles and a double, while waking none and striking out a new personal best 13.
The only time Kawakami was in trouble was in the fourth, when Seiichi Uchikawa singled to left with one out and centerfielder Katsuaki Furuki did the same. But first baseman Tyrone Woods flied out and leftfielder Takahiro Saeki struckout and Kawakami put it in cruise control the rest of the way.
Mullen didn't allow a hit until the fourth and then was presented with his first pickle of the night in the fifth, as Dragons catcher Motonobu Tanishige walked and, one out later, Kawakami singled to left. But first baseman Hiroyuki Watanabe grounded out and it remained a scoreless faceoff.
In the sixth, Dragons shortstop Hirokazu Ibata blooped a double to left and third baseman Kazuyoshi Tatsunami got aboard on an error by Woods. However, rightfielder Kosuke Fukudome struckout and centerfielder Alex Ochoa bounced into a 6-4-3 double play to hold the Dragons off.
In the seventh, though, Chunchi leftfielder
Kazuki Inoue leadoff with a single to left and went to second on a sac
bunt. One out later, Kawakami got a 2-2 hanging slider about letter high
and propelled it beyond the leftcenterfield wall to make it 2-0. Kawakami
then got back on the hill and restrained the Stars lineup to the infield
over the last two stanzas to lock it up. Kawakami is 3-0 against Yokohama
|Rookie shortstop Takashi Toritani played in a minor league game Saturday at third and went 2-5. Top club manager Akinobu Okada||noted, tought, that "he's standing too close to the plate." Because of Toritani's presence, the game was an overflow sellout.|
|Kenta Asakura started in a minor league game Saturday and went five innings of two hit, one run ball. He was clocked at 91mph and||kept his pitches down, a marked contrast to his last outing. However, he is stll having command problems with his forkball.|
|Number one draft choice Tetsuya Utsumi will be promoted to the top
Ace Koji Uehara did some running and longtossing Saturday. Giants
|coaches hope that he will be ready by the 21st for another series with Hanshin.|
|Shortstop Shinya Miyamoto, recovering from a calf injury, made a minor league rehab start Saturday and went 2-3 with two runs scored. He will make another minor league appearance Sunday and then will likely be called up Tuesday.||According to Sankei Sports, Yakult will be one of the teams trying to sign Waseda University second baseman Hiroyasu Tanaka for the November draft.|
|Seattle rightfielder Ichiro Suzuki went 3-5 with two intentional
walks, a stolen base and a run scored Saturday against the Yankees
in a 13-7 13 inning victory at Yankee Stadium that halted the team's six
game losing streak. He is now hitting .313 and has a 14 game hitting streak.
For the Yankees, leftfielder Hideki Matsui homered on a 2-2 slider
into the third deck in right with a man on, his fifth of the year, in the
sixth for his lone hit in six at bats.
Shigetoshi Hasegawa also got into this game nad was taken just over the wall in right by Bernie Williams for a solo jack in the seventh.
There is one more sidelight to this game: there has been talk of
|M's, who have one of the least productive offenses in MLB right
now. So if Japanese teams are paying attention, that would seem to put
a damper on that idea.
Mets shortstop Kazuo Matsui went 1-4 Saturday against Houston, a double, in a 7-4 loss. He has a seven game hit streak and is hitting .259.
Meiji University pitcher Yasuhiro Ichiba struckout 12 in eight innings
Saturdcay against Waseda University, but also surrendered five runs in
a big loss that could very well cost his squad a shot at the Tokyo Big
Six University League title. Ichiba is now fifth all time
Akinori Otsuka entered the game in the ninth inning for San Diego
against the Chicago Cubs and struckout two and walked one in a scoreless