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Soto Effective, Nakahata Ejected - April 16, 2013

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Soto Effective, Nakahata Ejected - April 16, 2013
In his last outing against Hiroshima a week before, Enyelbert Soto gave up 9 runs in just three innings. Needless to say, that was his second loss in two outings after a shelling in the Yokohama opener the previous week. I must confess, I was ready to give up on him then. But he bounced back and threw fairly well this week.

With a 2-0 lead thanks to a 2-out error, hit, then double by Kazunari Tsuruoka in the 2nd inning, it was starting to look like the 4th was going to be that inning. You know the one, when everything falls apart. And it almost did. Allowing three hits and an error tied the game up for the Carp at 2-2.

Then, with runners at first and second and two away, a hit up the middle by Yoshiyuki Ishihara was snagged by Yokohama second baseman Kensuke Uchimura. But the runner from second, Eishin Soyogi, thinking the ball was going into center field, rounded third and headed for home. The throw was well ahead of the runner, a little up the third base line. Tsuruoka made the touch as Soyogi started to slide. And the umpire called him safe!

Nakahata-kantoku few out of the BayStar dugout, and getting between his disbelieving catcher and the umpire, bumped the umpire in the chest. That was a quick ejection. I don't think that the bump was deliberate, it was a very little amount of space he was trying to crowd into. But he did follow the umpire around and bump him again while making his displeasure quite clear.

Itaru Ninomiya, the BayStars' general fielding coach, took over in the dugout and didn't pull any surprises out of a hat.

Down by a run in the top of the 9th inning, Tony Blanco led off grounding out to short. Then things started getting exciting. Alex Ramirez singled up the middle, prompting pinch runner Keijiro Matsumoto to come in as the tying run. Norihiro Nakamura singled to right, then Sho Aranami hit the ball to the hole between shortstop and third base that Soyogi kept from going to the outfield, but everyone was safe. Bases loaded, one out.

That brought up Tatsuhiko Kinjoh to pinch hit for Tsuruoka. And Kinjoh came through with a single to right to tie the ball game at 3-3.

The rally ended there as pinch hitter Tatsuya Shimozono grounded into a 1-2-3 double play. I almost thought that Hiroshima closer Kameron Mickolio was going to forget to go home first, but he did.

Shun Yamaguchi came on with the game tied in the 9th. I thought that this was an interesting move. He usually only comes in to throw one inning, now Ninomiya-coach seemed to wish to use him for two innings. Did Denny-pitching coach expect to take the lead in the top half with 1 out and bases loaded? So he only had Yamaguchi throw?

What ever the reason, it worked. Yamaguchi went through the Carp in order. Well, kind of in order. Ryosuke Kikuchi had a 2-out single to right, but was then thrown out trying to steal with Yoshihiro Maru at the plate to retire the Carp side in the 9th.

Takeru Imamaru took over on the mound for Hiroshima in the 10th. And things did not go his way. He walked Takehiro Ishikawa to lead off the inning. Uchimura sacrificed him to second, then Nyjer Morgan (back in the #3 hole for some reason) attempted a drag bunt but was thrown out by half a step. Interesting try. Imamura then pitched around Blanco to face Matsumoto with runners at first and third and two away. But then he throws a pitch in the dirt that bounced off his catcher's right shoulder and toward the first base dugout. Ishikawa scores! The BayStars take back the lead!

Matsumoto then singles Blanco over to third and Noriharu Yamazaki, who came in to pinch run for Nakamura the inning before, hits the ball into the right-center gap for a 2-run double. Yokohama up 6-3.

And that's all that was needed as Yamaguchi set down the Carp in order (for real this time) in the bottom of the 10th.

I've long had the impression that Yokohama has been especially week late into games. If they don't carry a lead into the 9th, it's unlikely that they're going to get out of the game with a win. They turned this one all around, and all late in the game. Soto didn't give this one away in the early innings, relief kept it close, and the offense came alive when it was all on the line.

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Michael Westbay
(aka westbaystars)

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