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Cold and Wet Outside, Warm and Fuzzy Inside - April 20, 2013

Baseball news from Japan and Asia

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.

Cold and Wet Outside, Warm and Fuzzy Inside - April 20, 2013

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It was a cold, rainy afternoon game at Yokohama Stadium, with the Yokohama BayStars taking on the Chunichi Dragons. Both pitchers were reluctant to allow hits through the first five innings.

But Chunichi got on the board first thanks to a couple of walks and two hits in the third inning, the damage coming on a bases-loaded two run single to right by the number four batter Kazuhiro Wada. That was the only ending that Yokohama starter, Shugo Fujii, allowed as many as two hits in the same inning. It was allowing Fujii's fifth walk of the game in the top of the sixth inning, right after Motonobu Tanishige's one out double, that got him the hook. It then took 11 pitches by Teruaki Yoshikawa to get pinch-hitter Masahiko Morino to ground into a double play and retire the threat. Other than Ishikawa bubbling a ball hit to shortstop off the bat of Hector Luna in the top of the seventh inning, Chunichi failed to put another runner on base the rest of the game.

For Yokohama, down 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning, Tony Blanco hit a big solo homerun just inside the foul pole down the left-field line with one out to cut the Dragons' lead in half. The homerun wasn't quite as deep as the one on Friday, but if it stayed fair, which it did, then there was no doubt about it.

The BayStars then mounted a threat against the second Dragons hurler of the day, Brad Bergesen, in the bottom of the sixth inning. Hitoshi Tamura and Blanco hit back-to-back singles up the middle with one out. After Alex Ramirez popped out to centerfield, Norihiro Nakamura was plunked in the back. He appeared to be in a great deal of pain, the ball hitting right on his spine in between the numbers, but ran up the first baseline after some attention by the trainer. But Keijiro Matsumoto get a hard line drive to shortstop Hirokazu Ibata for the final out. Bergesen retired Yokohama in order in the seventh inning.

Then things got interesting in the eighth inning.

Kensuke Uchimura lead off with a base on balls. Tamura followed with a single up the middle, then Blanco loaded the bases, also drawing a walk. That brought up Alex Ramirez who, unfortunately, has dipped below the Mendoza line, 0 for 3 so far in the game. But with the bases juiced, Ramirez comes through with a single of the middle, tying the ball game at 2 apiece.

After Nakamura struck out swinging, Matsumoto grounded the ball to the right side. This is where the controversy started. Second baseman, Masahiro Araki, was playing in, hoping to get a play at home. With the ball getting passed him, Araki went straight into the path of the running Tatsuhiko Kinjoh (pinch running for Ramirez) from first base. Kinjoh put on the brakes so as not to run into the fielder, but the first base umpire put up the out sign claiming that he brushed Araki's leg. To make matters worse, it appeared that Araki paused in Kinjoh's path. I doubt if he purposefully did so, pausing in surprise, but it looked like that pause was the cause for the brush up. That caused Nakahata-kantoku to come out and argue with the umpire for a short while, with the cold rain steadily coming down. Nakahata later complained that the umpire's explanation to the crowd was not sufficient.

Nonetheless the bases remained loaded but now with two outs.

Pinch hitter Takayuki Kajitani, who had been sent down to 2-gun a week and a half ago for failing to cover second base, came in to pinch-hit for catcher Kazunari Tsuruoka. After swinging and missing the first offering by the struggling Shinji Tajima, Kajitani connected with a double to left field, plating two. That put the home team up 4-2, and so it remained, Shun Yamaguchi retiring the Dragons in order in the ninth.

Yokohama takes two in a row from the Dragons at home, improving their record against Chunichi to 4 wins and 1 loss. I give credit to John Gibson for predicting the Dragons' fall this season. (Okay, so there still is a full season remaining.)
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