Two wild pitches by Yakult reliever Yuhei Takai allowed Yomiuri to score the tie breaking run and they held on to take it at Sapporo Dome 4-3. Hisanori Takahashi started for the Giants and went seven innings of two run, seven hit ball while striking out five and walking one in a no decision because closer Koji Uehara vultured the win after surrendering the tying run.
Kazuhisa Ishii started for the Swallows for the first time since August 5th and went 6.2 innings of two run, four hit ball and also was not involved in the final outcome.
Takahashi was perfect over the first three innings, but Ishii was not. In the third, centerfielder Damon Hollins walked with one out and went to second on a sacrifice. Leftfielder Yoshitomo Tani walked. Rightfielder Kenji Yano crashed a shot off the leftfield wall for a double and Hollins motored home for a 1-0 lead. However, Tani rounded third hard and when third baseman coach Haruki Ihara threw up the stop sign, the two men collided before Tani was able to get back to the bag. Yakult manager Atsuya Furuta leapt out of the dugout and argued that Tani had received physical assistance on the play, which is a rules violation. The umpires huddled and agreed with Furuta and Tani was called out for the final out. They would generate only one more hit through six.
That would be shortlived, as Swallows third baseman Yasushi Iihara singled to center in the fourth and stole second. One out later, leftfielder Alex Ramirez singled to left and Iihara skated in to knot it at one apiece.
It would remain tied until the sixth, when Iihara tripled into the leftcenter gap with one away and centerfielder Norichika Aoki flied out to right. Iihara tagged up and scurried across to make it 2-1.
They nearly added to that in the seventh, as first baseman Ryuji Miyade singled to left. One out later, shortstop Shinya Miyamoto singled to left and Miyade hustled into third. Furuta ordered up a squeeze with catcher Masakazu Fukukawa up and Fukukawa whiffed on it, which hung Miyade out to dry. Fukukawa was then walked to get to the pitcher's spot and Ishii accomodated them with a groundout.
That was huge because the Yakult advantage would disappear in the last of the inning. Catcher Shinnosuke Abe doubled into the rightfield corner with one out and, one out later, Ishii was pulled and Masato Hanada summoned from the bullpen. Takayuki Shimizu pinch hit for Hollins and singled to left. Ryota Wakiya hit for Takahashi and singled to center to level it at two all. Tani doubled down the leftfield line and that redeemed Shimizu to put the kyojin in front 3-2. Yano grounded out to bring the fusillade to an end.
Kiyoshi Toyoda stood in for Takahashi in the eighth and Aoki singled to left with one out and stole second. Ramirez singled to center. One out later, Uehara was inserted and Yuichi Matsumoto pinch hit for Miyade and singled to right to knock Aoki in and equalize it at 3-3. Second baseman Hiroyasu Tanaka grounded out, though, to impede the offensive progress.
Masahiro Yoshikawa exited the bullpen for the bottom stanza and got his man before giving way to Takai. Third baseman Michihiro Ogasawara walked and went to second on a wild pitch. First baseman Seung-yeop Lee singled to left. Takai then unleashed another wild one and Ogasawara crossed to nose ahead 4-3. Abe was thus intentionally walked and a strikeout and a flyout evaded further damage.
Uehara retired the Swallows lineup 1-2-3 despite having a liner hit off of a shin by Miyamoto and that was your ballgame. He registered his first blown save of 2007 and apologized to Takahashi for costing him a win.
The triumph terminated a string of seven consecutive regular season losses by Yomiuri at Sapporo Dome.
Ishii has gone winless since July 8th.
For Yomiuri, Lee was 1-4 with two strikeouts and is at.270. Hollins was 1-1 with a walk and is at .260.
For Yakult, Ramirez was 3-4 and is at .347, six points better than Aoki in the Central League batting race. Rightfielder Aaron Guiel was 0-4 and is at .258.
Another blow to Hanshin's pennant hopes was meted out Tuesday, as they couldn't hold a two run edge before they were shut down on a hit over the last five innings in what would conclude as a 3-3 with Hiroshima tie at Koshien Stadium. Atsushi Nomi started for the Tigers and went four innings of three run (two earned) ball on four hits in a futile effort while Carp starter Yasuhiro Oyamada went six innings of three run, eight hit pitching and struckout four without walking anyone.
Hiroshima shortstop Eishin Soyogi inaugurated the match with a single to center in the first and went to second on a sacrifice. Centerfielder Alex Ochoa grounded to third baseman Andy Sheets, who booted it for an error. Soyogi then stole home for a 1-0 lead.
Hanshin would produce two singles in the second, but they were sandwiched around a double play ball and a groundout, so that went nowhere.
But in the third, Tigers second baseman Kentaro Sekimoto singled to center and went to second on a sacrifice. Shortstop Takashi Toritani singled to right and Sekimoto turned and burned for home. The relay from rightfielder Jun Hirose arrived ahead of Sekimoto, but Sekimoto collided with catcher Yoshikazu Kura, who dropped the ball, and it was 1-1. Centerfielder Norihiro Akahoshi beat out a ground ball toward second. Sheets was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Leftfielder Tomoaki Kanemoto singled to right and cashed Toritani in. First baseman Lin Wei-tzu flied out to center and Akahoshi tagged up and busted in to raise it to 3-1. Rightfielder Kodai Sakurai struckout and they would obtain only one more hit through six.
However, in the fourth, Carp third baseman Takahiro Arai went yard to center to reduce it to 3-2. First baseman Kenta Kurihara singled to right. Leftfielder Tomonori Maeda laced a shot up the rightcenterfield alley and Kurihara rumbled all the way home to even it at three. One out later, second baseman Koji Yamazaki was intentionally walked to get to the pitcher's spot and Oyamada whiffed to shortcircuit the rally.
Hanshin would conspire to make things unequal in the seventh, as pinch hitter Osamu Hamanaka singled to left with one out and, one out later, Akahoshi singled to right. But Sheets grounded to first and they would be suppressed on a hit, a walk and an HBP, never more than one of those in any inning, over what remained of the contest.
Hiroshima second baseman Akihiro Higashide got aboard on an infield hit against Jeff Williams in the eighth and advanced on a sacrifice. A grounder to second put him at third. Arai walked. But Kurihara struckout and closer Kyuji Fujikawa would strikeout five of the six men he faced in the course of his two perfect innings and ceded the ball to Ryo Watanabe. Fujikawa was clocked at 95mph.
Watanabe banished three of four in the 11th. But in the 12th, Kura singled to center and Yoshiyuki Ishihara pinch ran for him. Ishihara was sacrificed to second. Watanabe was exchanged for Hirotaka Egusa. One ou tlater, Takamitsu Io pinch hit for Higashide and walked. However, Shigeru Morikasa pinch hit for Hirose and struckout. The Tigers made nary a peep in the bottom half and it was in the books.
Maeda needs five more hits for 2000.
Yuya Ando followed Nomi and was flawless for two innings in his first top level assignment of the campaign after being held back by injury.
For Hiroshima, Ochoa was 0-5 and is at .341.
For Hanshin, Lin was 0-3 with a sac fly and is at .301. He is 0-10 in his last three games. Sheets was 0-5 with an HBP and is at .247.
A sixth inning pinch hit grand slam by Kazuyoshi Tatsunami broke open what had been a squeaker and the Chunichi Dragons went on to prevail 7-2 over Yokohama and stay right on the heels of frontrunning Yomiuri. Daisuke Yamaai went eight innings of two run, seven hit ball to improve to 2-2 while Bay Stars starter Hayato Terahara was charged with five runs, four earned, on seven hits, five strikeouts and four walks to drop his tenth.
Chunichi put two on with one out in the first, but a groundout and a strikeout quelled the disturbance.
But in the second, Dragons centerfielder Byung-kyu Lee walked and, one out later, so did catcher Motonobu Tanishige. Yamai laid down a sacrifice bunt and Terahara threw it away to permit Lee to jet home for a 1-0 lead. Shortstop Hirokazu Ibata grounded into a double play to bog things down.
Yamai was touched for two singles through four, one of those being liquidated on a double play. However, in the fifth, Yokohama first baseman Yuki Yoshimura doubled to center and went to third on a groundout. Unfortunately, that would be for nought, as a groundout to third and a strikeout ensued.
The Nagoya crew then decided to get serious. In the sixth, third baseman Norihiro Nakamura singled to center and first baseman Tyrone Woods, who was lucky to still be in this ballgame (more about that later), singled to right. One ou tlater, Lee singled to left to load the bases. Tatsunami was told to hit for rightfielder Hidenori Kuramoto and he belted a first pitch 92mph fastball that was up and middle-in and tucked it into the first row near the rightfield foul pole for the eighth granny of his career but his first as a pinch hitter to put his side up 5-0.
The Stars put two on with one out in the seventh, but a popup and a flyout disappeared it.
Matt White was next on the Yokohama pitching chain gang for the eighth and leftfielder Masahiko Morino mashed one into the rightfield stands. Lee clouted one into the leftfield bleachers for back to back jacks to ump it up to 7-0.
Yamai then weakened in the bottom portion, as pinch hitter Tatsuya Shimozono doubled to center and backup second baseman Shingo Nonaka doubled to right to slingshot Shimozono in. A groundout moved Nonaka to third and centerfielder Tatsuhiko Kinjo singled to right to narrow the gap to 7-2. A popup and a flyout were next and reliever Yuichi Hisamoto had relatively little trouble in the ninth for the Dragons to make it a memory.
Woods was rung up for called strike three in the third and argued with the plate umpire for a bit before just leaving his batting helmet and bat on the plate and walking off. Why he didn't get ejected is beyond me, but there you go. Maybe the umpire thought he did indeed blow the call.
Woods did help Tatsunami before the game, though, Tatsunami quizzing the big slugger on how to achieve some distance on his hits. Tatsunami's eight slams tied Shinichi Etoh's team record. He is 19-48 with 57 RBIs since 2003 with the bags juiced. This was the first pinch granny by a Dragons since 2001 and the tenth in their entire history.
The Bay Stars are fading, having lost their last four.
For Chunichi, Woods was 1-5 with two strikeouts and is at .280. Lee was 3-3 with a walk and is at .259.
For Yokohama, Joselo Diaz also got into the game and assembled a scoreless ninth on a walk to slice his ERA to 4.38.
Greg Chaisson, whose time in Japan has been marked by shoulder problems
that have so far kept him off the regular season mound, has been released.
Yomiuri The Giants will be part of the lottery drawing for Osaka Toin High slugger Sho Nakata. Failing in that endeavor, they will hope to get their hands on Sendai Ikuei righthander Yoshinori Sato.
About 160 people, including hall of fame pitcher Masaichi Kaneda, attended the funeral of late pitcher Hidetake Watanabe Tuesday.
Miscellaneous Daisuke Matsuzaka started Tuesday against the Yankees and was tagged for five runs on six hits in 6.1 innings while striking out only two and walking four in a 5-3 loss. Among those taking this in was former Pirates reliever Masumi Kuwata.
Yanks leftfielder Hideki Matsui was 0-4 with an RBI.
Dodgers closer Takashi Saito twirled a hitless ninth against the Nats in a 4-3 victory for his 36th save. His 1.36 ERA leads all National League closers.
Seattle centerfielder Ichiro Suzuki went 2-5 with an RBI Tuesday while catcher Kenji Johjima was 3-4 in a 10-6 defeat to Anaheim.
Colorado second baseman Kazuo Matsui was 2-5 in a 3-1 loss to San Francisco.
Tampa Bay third baseman Akinori Iwamura was 2-5 with a walk in a 15-8 rout of Baltimore before what appeared to be a near empty Camden Yards. There might have been more stadium personnel than fans. Call them the Baltimore Oh Nos!
Chase Utley has returned to the Phillies lineup, so Tadahito Iguchi was consigned to a pinch hit appearance, grounding out.
This is a natural and it is great that they are going to do it. The champion of the Shikoku Island League and the winner of the Hokushinetsu Baseball Challenge League, both independent pro circuits, will meet to decide the Japanese national independent league title in a five game series that will kick off October 20th.
MLB scouts and interested fans may want to check out the first game of a Japan-L.A. high school all star series that starts September 1st because it is likely, though not promised, that Sendai Ikuei High fireballer Yoshinori Sato will make the start, according to Japanese press reports. They will play a three game series before heading back to Japan.
On an off topic but nonetheless important note to those of us interested in Japan, Tale of Genji translator Edward Seidensticker died at age 86. He and Donald Richie are two of the most widely read interpreters of Japanese literature and they have helped to educate legions of students in the field, including me. My condolences to his family. May he rest in peace.