While watching the Chiba Lotte Marines be shutout by the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters last night, other scores were flashed on the screen. I was excited to see that Yokohama had an 8-0 lead going into the 4th inning at Jingu. Well, I thought, that should be a safe enough lead. You can imagine my shock when I later found out that it wasn't.
With two down and two on in the top of the first inning against Tokyo Yakult Swallows' starter Shichijoh Yuki, Yokohama put together 8 runs on 8 consecutive hits, topped off by a three run home run by #1 batter Shimozono Tatsuya. The 11th batter of the inning, Ishikawa Takehiro, followed that home run with a single up the middle, and that was finally it for Yakult's "Baka-bon" pitcher Shichijoh.
A hit batter and a couple of hits put the BayStars up 9-0 in the top of the 4th inning. The 'Stars had truly risen! Now it was time to fall.
Yokohama starter, Suda Kota, has often had good starts, but then faltered around the 5th or 6th innings. Well, the faltering started in the 4th inning this time. He walked a pair then allowed a run on a single by Miyamoto Shinya. After that, Wladimir Balentien crushed a 3-run home run to left-center to trim Yokohama's lead to 9-4.
Yokohama converted a walk and a pair of hits into a run in the top of the 5th to re-extend their lead to 10-4. Thereafter, they put their bats away, having only one more hit the rest of the night.
Yakult was just getting warmed up, though. They chased Suda in the 5th inning when he loaded the bases with nobody out. Ohara Shinji came in and struck out Josh Whitesell swinging, but allowed defensive replacement at third Morioka Ryosuke to clear the bases with a double to left-center (moved to third on the throw home?). Fukuyama Hiroyuki was then called upon to pitch, and while retiring the next two batters, allowed Morioka to come home on a sacrifice fly. BayStars' lead was cut to 10-8.
If you can say one thing about the Swallows this year, it's that they know how to tie a ball game. And 3 hits with a sacrifice bunt squeezed in there did exactly that in the 6th inning. 10-10.
From the 7th inning on, the only hit by either team in the game was a leadoff single by Shimozono in the 8th inning. The game was called a tie, 10-10, after 9 innings taking 4 hours and 6 minutes.
Yakult has tied an astounding 13 games this season. They really do seem to play for the tie, no deficit being too great for them to catch (but not necessarily overcome).