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New tide rising: Surprising BayStars scrape out tie with Swallows on Ishikawa's 2-out RBI single in

by John E. Gibson (Apr 17, 2011)

The Yokohama BayStars are playing in a different stratosphere so far this season.

Takehiro Ishikawa's two-out RBI single in the ninth inning off closer Lim Chang Yong helped the 'Stars rise up and earn a 6-6 nine-inning tie with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows on Saturday at Jingu Stadium.

They didn't win, but Yokohama celebrated in the dugout as if it had in the second game cut short this season by the energy-saving 3-1/2-hour rule.

"It just happened to be my turn in the lineup," said Ishikawa, the leadoff batter who went 2-for-4 with a walk to up his average to .278.

"I was able to get the job done and I'm very happy about that. I got jammed a little, but I knew I had enough of it to get a hit. The fact that we were able to tie it is incredible."

That was the sentiment of second-year skipper Takao Obana, who was clearly excited afterward.

"The fact that we didn't lose it is great for the psyche of the players. It's good that we can take a mindset like this into tomorrow's game," he said.

The Swallows, meanwhile, are still winless after four games, in part because Lim's first appearance was a bust.

The South Korean righty walked the leadoff batter in the ninth and gave up a hit to the Yuki Yoshimura before getting the next two BayStars.

But Ishikawa lined a fastball to center to ruin Lim's outing.

"He has been pitching like that since the spring," Yakult skipper Junji Ogawa said about Lim. "He has walked a lot of guys, but he's the guy we have to throw [in save situations]."

A day after his bullpen was slapped around in a 9-7 loss, Ogawa tried to squeeze a few extra outs from starter Kyohei Muranaka.

The lefty had his struggles last season at Jingu, going 4-6 with a 4.17 ERA, but he was sharp in getting through seven innings on 111 pitches. He allowed only two unearned runs on a two-run homer by Brett Harper after a Hiroyasu Tanaka's two-out error in the sixth.

But all four batters he faced in the eighth reached base before he departed.

"I didn't feel he had gone too far with the pitch count," Ogawa said. "I wanted him to get through that eighth inning."

The BayStars, who used seven pitchers, ended their at-bat at 5:18 p.m. and were in no hurry to test the rule that states no new extra innings will be started after 210 minutes.

"We had a little bit more than 10 minutes and had we rushed things, we would have to go to the next inning," said Obana, who used 23 players.

Meanwhile, in Pacific League action at Koshien Stadium, Satoshi Nagai (1-0) held the Orix to one run over 7-1/3 innings and Kazuo Matsui doubled in two runs as the Tohoku Rakuten Eagles edged the Buffaloes 2-1.

Nagai scattered four hits, while walking two and fanning six. He also hit one batter.

At Sapporo Dome, Toshiaki Imae slugged a seventh-inning, two-run go-ahead home run off Naoki Miyanishi (0-1) as the reigning Japan Series champion Chiba Lotte Marines fought back from an early four-run deficit to beat Hokkaido Nippon Ham 7-6.

Imae and leadoff man Yoshifumi Okada each had three hits, and Shoitsu Omatsu doubled twice and drove in a run to lead the Marines.

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Kanemoto's streak ends

Hanshin's Tomoaki Kanemoto, nicknamed "Big Brother," saw his consecutive games streak end at 1,766 Friday night, even though he got into the Tigers' 5-4 win at Nagoya Dome.

Kanemoto, 43, was at the plate as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning when Shunsuke Fujiwara was thrown out trying to steal, ending the frame and the second-longest iron man streak in Japan Pro Baseball history. The Hiroshima Carp's Sachio Kinugasa holds the record with 2,215 consecutive games played.

Kanemoto, who began his career with the Carp, had appeared in every game since July 10, 1997. His record for most consecutive of 1,492 full games played is recognized worldwide.

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Top-pick Oishi deactivated

Saitama Seibu Lions rookie Tatsuya Oishi was deactivated Saturday after injuring his pitching shoulder during a Friday practice.

The team's No. 1 pick in last year's draft said he felt discomfort in the shoulder before Seibu's game with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks.


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