This game seemed to devolve down to who was gong to blow the most chances with runners in scoring position, as both the Yakult Swallows and the Rakuten Golden Eagles each squandered multiple run scoring scenarios before the Tokyo side splashed a three spot on the big board in the eighth thanks to Ryuji Miyade's bases clearing three bagger off of reliever Koji Aoyama and staved off a ninth inning rally to take it 3-1. Rick Guttormsen started for Yakult and got the victory after 7.1 shutout innings on seven hits as he rose in the Central League pitching standings with a 2.61 ERA.
Hideki Asai started for Rakuten and did everything but bring the ball up to the plate on a tee to get himself knocked out early, but the Yakult order repeatedly misfired.
Asai walked two of the five he finished with in the first, but a two out groundout extinguished the fire.
Rakuten then put two men on with singles in the bottom segment with two outs and that went away on a groundout.
A two on, two out revolt in the second came to nought for the Swallows and Rakuten did that in the third before Yakult repeated it in the fourth. Rakuten followed by putting a man on second with one out in the fifth and then at third with two outs and stranded him. They also had a man on second with one down in the sixth and planted him there.
Finally, somebody stepped up and said they wanted to win this thing in the eighth. DH Alex Ramirez singled to left and Aoyama plunked second baseman Greg LaRocca. Shortstop Shinya Miyamoto grounded to third baseman Katsumi Yamashita, who clanked it to pack the sacks. Miyade lasered one up the rightcenter gap and cleaned up the community for a 3-0 lead. A flyout and a groundout left Miyade out there.
So it went into the ninth and closer Hirotoshi Ishii suddenly became unavailable due to hurting his shoulder while warming up in the bullpen. Therefore, Ryota Igarashi was assigned that task and Rakuten leftfielder Kenshi Kawaguchi doubled to left with one out. One out later, Yamashita singled to center to drive Kawaguchi in. Shingo Takatsu replaced Igarashi and induced a groundout to short out of former Swallow Tetsuya Iida to put it to bed.
The twinge that Ishii experienced is thought to be minor and he will remain on the roster.
Guttormsen was clocked at 94mph.
Yakult has won five straight and is finally back at .500. Rakuten has dropped its last five.
The last time that Takatsu got a save in Japan was on October 15, 2003.
For Rakuten, Fernandez was 2-4 and is at .316. Second baseman Rick Short was 0-4 and is at .295.
For Yakult, Ramirez was 1-5 with two strikeouts and is at .302. LaRocca was 1-4 with an HBP and two strikeouts and is at .236. First baseman Adam Riggs was 1-5 and is at .268.
ballclub has finally formally announced the addition of outfielder Matt
Watson, whose contract they recently bought from the Oakland A's AAA team
in Sacramento. It is still unknown, though, when he will arrive in Japan.
Outfielder Matt Franco's uncle, Kurt Russell, is in Japan promoting a remake of the Poseidon Adventure and took in Thursday's game.
Former Mainichi Orions and Takahashi Unions pitcher Susumu Aizawa has died at age 75, according to Sports Nippon. The cause of his death is unknown. Aizawa compiled an 8-17 record between 1953-1956 before hanging it up. He had been living in Micronesia, where he was involved in politics there.
Rakuten Pitcher Ryan Glynn had his introductory press conference Thursday and said that he wants to win every game. He then retired to the bullpen, where he threw 57 pitches and was reportedly clocked at 94mph. Glynn wants to get stuck in as soon as possible and it appears that it will happen, as he could start as soon as Saturday or Sunday. He will wear number 50.
Manager Katsuya Nomura reportedly said that Dominicans are lazy Thursday. "It appears that there is no word for effort where (infielder Jose) Fernandez comes from," the septagenerian shot caller grumbled, insists Sankei Sports. Nomura was comparing Fernandez with Yakult second baseman Greg LaRocca. What a racist idiot. Somebody get Nomura some video of Albert Pujols or Miguel Tejada.