Saturday, July 11, 2009

Down by the Bay Edition #1: Yokohama vs. Hirshoima @ Hamasta Plus Photopost 07/05/09

Hello once again everyone. This year has not been so kind to my favorite NPB team, which is the Yokohama BayStars. They have been beat down, constantly humiliated, and just plain outplayed this season to the tune of a 23-46 record (as of 7/5/09). So, it comes as little surprise that I haven’t been to an actual home game since the pre-season. Logistics also has a small part to play in this as well but mainly it is because of the performance of the team. But despite the fact that I’ve been ashamed of the team to say the least, I’ve never stopped following the team and as a result, I lifted my personal “ban” on team home games and decided to go to my old stomping grounds at Yokohama Stadium on July 5th. And quite honestly, I’ve got to say that this was the best game I’ve been to all year.

Memories of the past 3 years came flooding back to me as I purchased my ticket and entered the stadium. The smell of the popcorn and fried foods in the air, the all but to familiar dance contest and sutapuri (or stadium photos where they take pictures of random people through out the stadium at certain times during the games) made me feel at home again. I spent my time in between my seat and sitting with some of my friends who have season seats at the top of the stadium and it was just like old times again. I was truly like a little kid at the ballpark. Today’s game against the Carp would be the last day game until September because the team will switch over to night games for every home game because of the summer heat (I believe).

But before I get to the game, I’d just like to comment on baseball merchandise. Now, every once in a while, you find this cool piece of merchandise that you just have to but when you see it. Well, today was one of those days as I bought this little towel at the stadium:

In my opinion, the Hiroshima-Toyo Carp have some of the best merchandise in Pro Yakyu in my opinion. Today’s piece of merchandise features the Carp bat boy holding a shumai (Chinese dumpling which is the famous food in Yokohama) on a stick with Yokohama written everywhere on the towel. This was the first time I’d ever seen this towel anywhere so I got 2 of them and it makes for a great novelty having lived in Kanagawa for 3 years and all.

As for the game itself, the starting pitchers for the day were Tom Mastny for Yokohama and Takahiro Aoki for Hiroshima. As it turns out the game would be decided by what has been Yokohama’s “Achilles Heel” for a long time now and that’s starting pitching. Mastny was solid for about 2 innings of work and then things started to go down hill from there. New Hiroshima outfielder Andy Phillips put Hiroshima on the board first with a 3 run home run in the top of the 3rd inning. Hiroshima right fielder Shigenobu Shima also added a solo shot of his own in the top of the 4th to make it 4-0 Hiroshima. But not to be outdone, Yokohama slugger Shuichi Murata countered with a two run shot of his own in the bottom of the 4th to make it 4-2 Yokohama. Midway through the 5th inning however, Yokohama reliever Kimiyasu “Hama no Jisan” Kudoh came in to replace Tom Mastny and promptly gave up a sacrifice fly to Shima, which made it 5-2 Hiroshima. It’s always a treat to see Kudoh pitch these days. Yokohama responded when pinch hitter Hiroyuki Ohnishi hit a timely groundout to short in the bottom of the 5th to make it 5-3 Hiroshima. Not really that impressive but a run is a run after all and I’ll take it.

New Hiroshima slugger Andy Phillips watches his 3 run homer fly into the stands in the 3rd inning.

Andy Phillips crosses home plate after rounding the bases.

Yokohama starter Tom Mastny.

Mastny after throwing a pitch.

Hiroshima starter Takahiro Aoki winding up for the pitch.

Takahiro Aoki again.

But perhaps Yokohama’s biggest chance came during the bottom of the 7th inning, which ironically was our “lucky seven”. Tatsuhiko Kinjoh started things off with a walk. After that, pinch hitter Tatsuya Shimozono hit a single to left. After a sacrifice bunt by Takeya Ishikawa moved Kinjoh and Shimozono over third and second respectively. Then, Takahiro Saeki came in as a pinch hitter (to a loud applause too I might add) and hit a sacrifice fly to right to make it 5-4 Hiroshima. You could just feel the excitement in the air at Hamasta as the next batter; Yuki Yoshimura came up to the plate. Yoshimura ended up striking out to end the inning and killed Yokohama’s chance to score that tying run.

Yokohama centerfielder Tatsuya Shimozono standing at second base.

Takahiro Saeki watches as he hits a sacrifice fly in the 7th.

Now, as I said in my previous post about Sendai, I think that it is great that Tashiro-kantoku put Yoshimura in the lead off spot to try and change things up. But PLEASE, end this experiment or whatever it is NOW. While there is no questioning that Yoshimura has the talent, the simple fact is that he strikes out too much for his own good and really shouldn’t be in the lead off spot. Yoshimura went 1-4 in this game with three strikeouts and that in my opinion, is enough reason to raise the red flag. I would suggest that Tashiro-kantoku give Uchikawa another shot to lead off because he seems to be coming around with the bat nowadays as he’s leading the team with a .312 average. I would much rather see contact from the lead off spot than strikeouts. Or, if they’re really adamant about having the lead off hitter steal bases, then put Ishikawa back in the lead off spot and move Yoshimura down in the lineup where he can swing for the fences because their numbers are almost identical with Yoshimura having the slight edge over Ishikawa.

Hiroshima added an insurance run via a sacrifice fly by Andy Phillips in the top of the 9th which made it 6-4 and ultimately spelled the end for Yokohama.

Hiroshima closer Katsuhiro Nakagawa. He picked up his 22nd game in this game.

Kimiyasu Kudoh walking back to the dugout with second baseman Toshihisa Nishi.

Kudoh getting ready to warm up.

Kudoh winding up for a pitch.

Atsushi Kizuka throwing a pitch.

Kizuka looking at the mound while doing some of his pre-pitch stretches.

And while I should’ve been disappointed with the result, I wasn’t because I thought that
Yokohama played well at least offensively. They’ve shown great improvement in that department since the beginning of the season and should be commended as such. The problem is that Yokohama continues to have issues with their pitching, mainly their starters not being able to go deep into games and as a result, end up relying too heavily on their bullpen. A recent comment by Tashiro-kantoku surprised me when he responded to a question about taking Les Walrond out of the rotation. He admitted that the team has no pitching and that they must wait for the young pitchers to develop at 2-gun. Well, since the season is pretty much over anyways, why not give the youngsters some experience at the big league level? I’m just saying that it certainly couldn’t hurt in their development process to get some of that experience under their belts so to speak.

Aside from the piece above, there was little to dislike about this game despite the result. It was great going back to where my Pro Yakyu journey began and I hope to bring you some more editions of “Down by the Bay” in the near future as a part of me still takes great pride in talking about the Yokohama BayStars even though I don’t get out to see them as much as I used to and that the season has been a rough one to say the least.


Hiroshima shortstop Takuro Ishii. The day before this game, Takuro hit his 100th career home run. Kind of ironic that he hit it at Yokohama Stadium where he played for almost all of his career. Congratulations to Takuro for reaching this accomplishment in his career.

Takuro warming up before the game with Eishin Soyogi.

Takehiro Ishikawa warming up at second base before the game.

Catcher Takeshi Hosoyamada going after a ball that got away after Scott McClain struck out.


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