I had the privilege to be invited to Yokohama Stadium on Tuesday, September 23rd by Bob Bavasi, who runs a tour group of Japan every year, and has for over 10 years. (See JapanBallTour.com
for more information.) I've exchanged e-mail with Bavasi-san over the years, but this visit was my first chance to meet him. And he's a lot nicer in person than I ever imagined in the few exchanges we'd had over the years.
Nonetheless, the BayStars were hosing the Hanshin Tigers, and we've been having a real hard time coming up with runs of late. Former Tiger Yasutomo Kubo started for Yokohama an threw eight innings, one inning too many. After shutting out the Tigers through seven innings, despite allowing seven hits over that time, with two outs in the eighth he allowed three consecutive singles to allow Hanshin to get on the board first with a run. Yokohama, meanwhile, were held to just four hits by Tiger starter Minoru Iwata over the same eight innings.
Then came the nineth. Seung-hwan Oh took the mound for Hanshin to close the game. Yuliesky Gurriel struck out swinging for the first out. Wayne Graczyk, of the Japan Times, pointed to Tony Blanco on deck and said that he'll tie the game up with a home run. I retorted that Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh will do it before Tony. While Tsutsugoh had some big swings, he grounded the ball to first, which Mauro Gomez misplayed for an error, putting the tying run on base.
Graczyk revised his prediction to say that Tony would hit a sayonara
two-run shot. After taking the first pitch, boy did Blanco connect on the second. It looked like the line drive ball into the sea of yellow and black beyond the left field fence was still rising when it entered. Gyakuten sayonara home run!
Yokohama wins the game 2-1.
Ah, it's nice to win a close game for a change.
[A few photos are available over on the Google+ post