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From the Mouth of Victory - April 18, 2013

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Welcome to the Bayside West: Yokohama Blog

Featuring Michael Westbay (a.k.a. westbaystars)

Michael Westbay has been blogging about Pro Yakyu since before the word "blog" entered the vernacular. Here he writes about Pro Yakyu in general, and the Yokohama BayStars in particular.


From the Mouth of Victory - April 18, 2013

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I looked at Shun Yamaguchi's record at the end of last season and determined that I had been over hard on him. He really did pitch much better than I gave him credit for. He made close games a little more "exciting" than they needed to be, but he really did go for long stretches without giving up a run, holding the few games Yokohama had late in their games.

Through his first seven appearances this season, he'd managed to hold the opposition scoreless. And several of these were 1-run games. If the BayStars are go get back to .500, then Yamaguchi is necessary to close games we have a lead.

One would think that a 5-2 lead in the 9th was enough. It wasn't.

But let's take a look at what went right.

Tony Blanco continues to tear the cover off the ball, hitting his 7th home run of the season. He swung and watched the ball sail deep into the stands in straight away center. There was no doubt about that one. He got it all, a 2-run shot to put Yokohama up 2-0.

Returning from the Hawks this year is Hitoshi Tamaura. With so much depth in the outfield, it was starting to look like he wouldn't get much of a shot, other than in a pinch hitting role. While he started off 0 for 8 in that role, he's hit in the following four games he's appeared in and got the start in left field this evening in Hiroshima in place of the slumping Alex Ramirez. After Norihiro Nakamura drove in a run with two outs in the top of the fifth, Tamura hit a hard line drive that wouldn't stay in the glove of third baseman Shota Dobayashi to score Blanco from third. The drive was ruled to hot to handle, thus his first hit of the night. Tamura then singled to left in the 7th, driving in his second run of the night, to put the BayStars up 5-1.

After a 2-out RBI double to Brad Eldred in the bottom of the 8th inning made it a 5-2 ball game, Yokohama pitcher Yohta Kosugi was relieved by Jorge Sosa. Sosa got Ryuhei Matsuyama to go down swinging to put out the fire - temporarily.

With a 3-run lead, Yamaguchi allowed a lead-off single up the middle to Eishin Soyogi. Shota Dobayashi then hit a double to the right-center field gap, plating Soyogi from first to reduce the lead to 2 runs. Pinch hitter Naoki Nakahigashi then hit a high chopper to the left side of the infield that could not be played in time for an infield single, moving the runner over to third base.

Things were getting tense.

Next, pinch hitter Tomohiro Abe hit a fly to right field, plenty deep to bring Dobayashi across the plate, and we've got a 1-run ball game, Yokohama leading 5-4.

Argh. Just close it, Yamaguchi.

But, no. That would end this tension.

Instead, he walked Fred Lewis on 5 pitches.

Then he walked pinch hitter Kenta Kurihara on 6 pitches, including a wild pitch that moved the runners over to second and third, still with just one out. Well, now the bases were loaded.

Number three batter Yoshihiro grounded the ball to the right side. Kensuke Uchimura threw home, and it was close! But he just got Nakahigashi at the plate. The reply showed the the umpire made the right call, despite the objections of many who thought he beat the throw.

Whew. Two down. The infield can now play back. Let's just focus on getting the batter out and everything will be fine.

Except it wasn't. The outfield was playing very close to the infield. Protecting against the second run? I don't get it. The number four batter, Eldred, is coming to the plate. He's a slugger. And you play the outfield in?

Can you see where I'm going with this? Eldred punched the ball over the center fielder. While he was trying to chase down the ball rolling toward the wall, two runs score. Gyaku-ten sayonara victory for the Carp. Had the outfield been playing at regular depth, that would have been the third out, game over in favor of Yokohama. Even if Eldred had punched a single in front of the center fielder, it would have only been a tie ball game.

Okay. While Yamaguchi got himself into this mess, I think I'll blame this loss on the defensive coach. That was just plain the wrong strategy to take.
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