Thursday, September 16, 2010

Yomiuri Giants 5 at Yakult Swallows 2 - September 15, 2010

With my friend Meg in town finishing up her 12 parks tour of Japan, I decided to make a final visit to Jingu this year to join her in watching the Giants and Swallows. Yakult is technically still alive in the playoff race, lying 6.5 games back of 3rd place Yomiuri with 18 games left, but another loss would pretty much seal their fate. And so it came to pass.

The Game

Yoshinori Satoh got the start for Yakult against Tetsuya Utsumi. Satoh started by walking the first two Giants on 8 straight balls and I thought we were in for a long night, but he struck out Michihiro Ogasawara and Alex Ramirez before inducing Shinnosuke Abe to fly out. He then settled down, yielding just two hits and a walk over the next four frames.

Norichika Aoki pops out

Meanwhile Utsumi was also solid and we were still scoreless after 5 innings. That's when the rains came, just a light mist at the start but turning into a steady drizzle shortly thereafter. This seemed to affect the pitching as the Giants exploded for 4 runs in the 6th, including a 3-run double from Edgar Gonzalez (below grounding out in an earlier at-bat).

Yakult replied with a 2-run homer from Kazuhiro Hatakeyama in their half of the 6th. But Utsumi was replaced one batter later and the Giants relief corps, including ex-Blue Jay Micheal Nakamura, proceeded to shut down Yakult the rest of the way.

Pinch hitter Kenji Yano added a solo homer in the 9th for a bit of insurance as the Giants won 5-2 in a well-played if somewhat pedestrian affair. Yakult is still 6.5 games out of 3rd though as Hanshin lost, but I doubt they can make up the ground. Really, since they are a game under .500 (61-62-4), they shouldn't be part of any playoff discussion but that's what happens when half the teams make the post-season.

Minor League pennant race

The rains from last night have continued today and the minor league game between Shonan Searex and Giants has been postponed. This is unfortunate as the Eastern League is having a great pennant race. Yomiuri leads by a half-game over 3 other teams including the Searex with just a week left in the season. What's really interesting is that the second place teams are all 55-45 with a different number of ties, hence the different number of games left. The winner will play in a 1-game championship with the Western League in Niigata on October 2nd. I'll keep you posted; here's hoping the baby Giants are knocked off by somebody in the next week.

Update (Sept 17): The game has been rescheduled for Saturday, September 25th. It'll be the last game of the season and hence the last Searex game ever, and if the teams are still close, might decide the pennant. There's also a futsal game nearby after that so I'll try to catch both.




  1. Heh, I was at Tuesday and Thursday's games -- specifically skipped Wednesday because I couldn't bear to watch Yoshinori lose. Go figure. Thursday's game had a significant rain delay but was a lot of fun for the bleacher bums in the outfield.

    You ever been to Olympic Stadium in Nagano? I'm planning to head there this weekend.

  2. You didn't miss much Wednesday, although Yoshinori was good for 5 innings. One bad inning, I blame it on the rain.

    I was at the Olympics in Nagano but have not been back since, so haven't seen it as a baseball stadium. Have a good trip!