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Third Time's a Charm - June 23, 2013

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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.


Third Time's a Charm - June 23, 2013

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Miura Daisuke has a reputation as a Tiger Killer, having a career 46 and 26 record against the Kansai team. It's been hard to tell the past couple of years as he was riding a 6 games losing streak against Hanshin, his last victory against them being on May 12 of 2012. On top of that, the first two times he's faced Hanshin this year was against the Tigers' super-rookie Shintaro Fujinami, who wasn't even born when Miura made his debut with the Taiyo Whales (now DeNA Yokohama BayStars).

Yokohama started off scoring two on a Tony Blanco 2-run home run the other way, just clearing the right-center field fence, in the 1st inning. That was Tony's 24th home run of the season, staying just one up on Yakult's Balentine who hit his 23rd home run just minutes later. Unfortunately for Blanco, Fujinami came a bit too much inside in the bottom of the 3rd with 2 strikes on the slugger and hit him hard on the left elbow just above his elbow guard. Blanco was clearly in a great deal of pain and, after a short delay to see if he could continue, was sent to a local hospital for a CT scan. The check came out negative to a fracture, but he's got a bit of a bruise. He's listed day to day going up to Jingu on Tuesday.

Despite a leadoff double by Tsuyoshi Nishioka in the top of the 1st, Miura retired the first 6 batters he faced. (Nishioka was thrown out at the plate after being sacrificed to second, touching up on a fly ball to right. Sho Aranami threw a laser beam home, Shuto Takajyoh tagged Nishioka out well in front of home plate, then spiked the ball - in anger or jubilation, I'm not sure.)

However, Ryota Arai took a 2-ball, no-strike pitch deep to left-center to put Hanshin on the board. Two outs later, Nishikoka hit a solo shot on the same count to right-center to tie the ball game up a 2-2. While he didn't allow a single walk, Miura did have a bit of a time getting pitches low in the zone called a strike, thus the two just a little too high clearing the fences.

Fujinamia, however, wasn't able to work out the strike zone as well as the veteran. He walked Takehiro Ishikawa to lead off the bottom of the 3rd. After Noriharu Yamazaki grounded out to short, Nyjer Morgan walked on 5 pitches, then Fujinami hit Blanco to load the bases. While Norihiro Nakamura was at the plate, Fujinami let loose with a wild pitch, moving all the base runners up and allowing the BayStars to take a 3-2 lead. After Nori went down swinging, Aranami hit a double to left-center to plate two more. Yokohama takes a 5-2 lead!

Miura passed the 100 pitch mark in the top of the 8th inning and was replaced with 1 out and runners on first and second. Ryo Watanabe came in and walked the first batter he faced, pinch hitter Shinjiro Hiyama, to load the bases. Takashi Toritani then grounded the ball to Nori (who had taken over at first) who threw to second for one, but there was no relay to first to complete the double play. Shouldn't he have thrown home? Nonetheless, the run scored on the out. Matt Murton, who is hitting .387 against Yokohama and had a pair of doubles yesterday, singled in another run with a poke into left field. That makes this a 1-run ball game, Yokohama still leading 5-4.

Older Arai brother, Takahiro, flies out to center to end the threat.

Yokohama adds one in the bottom half of the 8th on a double by Takajyoh after a leadoff walk and sacrifice to bring the score to 6-4. I'm impressed with all the scoring coming right after allowing runs. That's a good sign.

Despite giving up a lead-off walk to Hayata Itoh, closer Jorge Sosa shut down the Tigers in 3 in the 9th with Itoh being gunned down attempting to steal as Ryota Arai went down swinging followed by Katsuhiko Saka grounding out to second to end the game.

It's taken three attempts, but Miura has finally managed to defeat the 19 year old Fujinami and resumed his winning way against the Tigers.
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