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Lowly BayStars get to Swallows 'Mr. Zero'

by Rob Smaal (Jul 13, 2009)

Better make that "Mr. One."

That the Yokohama BayStars squeaked out a narrow 2-1 victory Sunday and took two out three from the Swallows at Jingu Stadium was quite an accomplishment for the Central League cellar-dwellers.

That they got the win against Yakult's Lim Chang Yong makes it even more significant.

Heading into Sunday's contest, Lim, the Swallows' South Korean closer, had not given up an earned run in 33 2/3 innings pitched this season, earning the hard-throwing right-hander the nickname "Mr. Zero."

But they say all good things must come to an end, and in the top of the ninth inning, with the score tied 1-1 and a runner on third, BayStars pinch-hitter Kazuya Fujita launched a sacrifice fly to deep right off Lim. Outfielder Aaron Guiel caught it on the warning track, but there was no chance for a throw home and what would turn out to be the winning run crossed the plate.

"From the moment I stepped into the batter's box I just wanted to make something happen," Fujita said. "It was only a sacrifice fly, but that's all it took."

With Crown Prince Naruhito, Crown Princess Masako and their daughter Princess Aiko in the stands, Keizo Kawashima put the Swallows on top in the second inning when he punched an RBI single back up the middle off Yokohama starter Yuji Yoshimi.

It was a 1-0 lead the Swallows would maintain through seven innings as Yakult lefty Masanori Ishikawa gave them a quality start. Nursing a 1-0 lead in the eighth, Swallows manager Shigeru Takada turned it over to his bullpen, which has been having an outstanding season.

But Ryota Igarashi came in and gave up an RBI double to Shuichi Murata as the BayStars evened the score. Igarashi, who usually enters to the tune "Wild Thing," issued three walks in his one inning of work.

With the game tied in the ninth, Takada brought in Lim, who had 33 saves last season and has 19 this year. Takehiro Ishikawa slashed a single to left to lead off the inning and then stole second. Ishikawa was bunted over to third by Takeshi Hosoyamada, setting the stage for Fujita's run-scoring deep fly to right.

Prior to the game, Lim said he knew the day would come when he'd give up a run. He just hoped it wouldn't be at a crucial juncture of the game.

"It's only natural that a pitcher will give up some runs at some point," he said. "When that will happen, I have no idea. The important thing is what the situation is when you give up the runs."

Well, now we know.

Lim (3-1) took the loss, as his ERA "ballooned" to 0.260. The bullpen nullified a nice effort by starter Ishikawa, who allowed just two hits over seven scoreless innings.

Reliever Atsushi Kizuka (2-0) worked one hitless inning in relief of Yoshimi to get the win. Veteran lefty Kosuke Kato retired the left-handed hitting Guiel in the bottom of the ninth before Shun Yamaguchi got the final two outs to earn his 19th save of 2009.

Yokohama starter Yoshimi gave up one run on eight hits in seven innings.


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