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'Stars Complete Season on High Note

Discussion in the Bayside West: Yokohama forum
'Stars Complete Season on High Note
The Yokohama BayStars hosted the Hanshin Tigers to a serious nail biter last night (October 7, 2010) for both teams' final game of the season. Two solo home runs for Yokohama accounted for all the scoring in the game (a nice change of pace).

Number 2 batter, center fielder Keijiro Matsumoto, led off the bottom of the 4th with a line drive shot into the Hanshin fans in left field to give Yokohama the lead. The home run was the BayStars' first hit of the game against Hanshin starter Takumi Akiyama.

The other home run came off the bat of none other than high school graduate and rookie sensation Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh to lead off the bottom of the 7th inning against Hanshin relief ace Tomoyuki Kubota. It was a huge bomb into the BayStars' oendan in right field. Not only was this Tsutsugoh's first (of many to come) home run at ichi-gun, but it was also his first hit. Tsutsugoh showed great patience at the plate, drawing walks his first two at bats before connecting in the 7th.

Defensively, Tsutsugoh played exceptionally well. In fact, the first Hanshin batter, Takashi Toritani, grounded the ball to his right to start off the game. Tsutsugoh dove for the ball, got it, and tossed to the covering pitcher for the first out of the game. In the top of the 4th, Toritani hit a slow grounder to third that Shuichi Murata rushed with a one hopper to first. While the batter was called safe (a missed call IMHO), Tsutsugoh did a brilliant job in stretching and playing what looked like a very difficult bound. Great defense by the freshman!

The totals line for Tsutsugoh over his 3 game first year career were 10 PA, 7 AB, 1 H, .143 AVG, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K, 2 BB, 1 HBP. He was 1 for 7 (.143) against righties, and was hit by a pitch by the only lefty he faced. Tsutsugoh put the ball in play 6 times, fouling out to the catcher once, grounding out to first once, flying out to center 3 times, and hitting a huge home run to right-center in his final at bat of the season.

Oh, and did I mention that the BayStars' shutout of the Tigers means that the Giants need only win or tie in their final game of the season tonight to knock the Tigers into third, preventing a Climax Series game at Koshien? It's fun to play spoiler.

As I mentioned, though, this game was no cake walk. I may have mentioned that the BayStars' usual pattern has been to score first then promptly give the lead back the following half inning. Kentaro Takasaki, in his second start of the season (first since his disastrous 6 run 2 2/3rd innings against Yakult on August 25 at Jingu) faced just 1 over the minimum through 4 innings, allowing 2 hits but erasing Kenji Johjima trying to steal second. So what does he do with his 1-run lead in the 5th inning, right after Matsumoto's solo homer in the 4th? He loads the bases with a double by Johjima and a pair of walks. The two walks came after reaching two outs. That third out seemed, like so many games before, so far away. But wait! Takashi Toritani grounds the ball to Jose Castillo at second, who throws to Tsutsugoh for the final out of the inning. Whew! Escaped that one.

Matt Murton extended his season hit record to 214 with a 1-out double in the 6th inning. But a pair of pop flies killed any rally there. Takasaki then settled back down to retire the Tigers in order in the 7th.

Shigeki Ushida came in to setup in the 8th inning, right after Tsutsugoh had added an insurance run. Despite a 2 and 1 record and 1.21 ERA in 41 appearances, he hasn't really instilled me with much confidence this season. (Has it only been inherited runners he's allowed to score?) Ushida's promptly leading off the top of the 8th by walking pinch hitter Kentaro Sekimoto didn't relieve my anxiety any. After getting Toritani to pop out for out number one, Ushida walked pinch hitter Shinjiro Hiyama. Argh! Just because they're pinch hitters doesn't mean you have to work around them!

Anyway, with Murton coming up next all looked lost. Murton had already doubled in his previous at bat and, 1 for 3 so far, seemed due for another hit. But Ushida gets him whiffing a golf shot at a low and inside! Murton goes down on strikes twice in the same game! (The last time he struck out twice in a game was on September 3rd in Hiroshima.) Ushida then got Takahiro Arai (who doubled in a run against Kizuka for his retirement mound appearance the previous day) to fly out to left and end the threat.

Shun Yamaguchi came in to close for Yokohama. Despite allowing a 2-out base hit (and error by Matsumoto) to Weizhu Lin, Yamaguchi looked to be in command and got Katsuhiko Saka looking at strike three.

Finals for the game were:

Hanshin - 0 runs on 5 hits and no errors while stranding 8.
Yokohama - 2 runs on 7 hits and 2 errors while leaving 5 on base.

Oh, and this was the franchise's 3,500 win. おめでとうございます。Congratulations.

After the game, Kaji-president came out with the 'Stars lined up across the infield to talk with the fans. He thanked them for sticking with the BayStars' 3rd consecutive last place finish with 90+ losses. (Ouch, try not to bring us too far down.) And he apologized to the team and fans for the sudden talk about selling the team, creating uncertainty for both groups. But he vowed several times that the BayStars will continue to be in Yokohama next season.

Well, while it would have been nice to have a few more wins during the season, this was a nice way to end it.

Re: 'Stars Complete Season on High Note
[ Author: Christopher | Posted: Oct 8, 2010 1:33 PM | HAN Fan ]

He thanked them for sticking with the BayStars' 3rd consecutive last place finish with 90+ losses. (Ouch, try not to bring us too far down.)

He couldn't do anything else - you have to admit it was a dismal season with (at the moment) no sign of any improvement. There weren't even any signs of life or things to look forward to. BayStars do have talent but I think they need to spend big to be a contender. This means a new owner and new stadium - not necessarily outside Yokohama though.
Re: 'Stars Complete Season on High Note
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Oct 8, 2010 7:50 PM | YBS Fan ]

We'll see if a new owner can really make a difference. It didn't seem to do much when they were transferred from Maruha to TBS. But then, I never really thought that TBS even wanted the club. It seemed to be more of a favor to Nabetsune. (Hmmm. And it was Watanabe-kaicho who broke the story about a possible sell out this time. What's going on behind the scenes?)

A convertible stadium between Yokohama Station and Minato Mirai would be an ideal place. But that idea got shot down by the voters in perhaps the best economic time. That land is disappearing fast, and the tax payers aren't going to foot the bill now. There really isn't a more accessible place in Yokohama. Building a stadium out in Shin Yokohama would be as fool hardy as building one in Tokorozawa. I'm afraid that the time for a new stadium has passed.

Bobby's team did a great job with renovations on Chiba Marine Stadium. Hey, JS Group is all about home renovations. I wonder what they could do with the stadium. (If they can get past the problem of the fact that they'll be renting it, not owning it. That, too, took some creativity to get around in Chiba.)
Re: 'Stars Complete Season on High Note
[ Author: Christopher | Posted: Oct 9, 2010 8:44 AM | HAN Fan ]

I agree a facelift and redesign would help Yokohama Stadium. However, I do think its going to come down to spending more on players - the days of cheap teams have disappeared and its something that Swallows, Carp and BayStars need to face up to.

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