Saturday, April 28, 2007

Grand Slammin' Yukio Tanaka

Fighters 10, Eagles 2

Yukio Tanaka had 10 hits left to go for the Meikyukai entry goal of 2000 before today's game started.

Now, he has 9 left.

Today's hit was a pretty good one. The Fighters were already up 5-2 in the seventh inning, and Hichori Morimoto started things off with a single to center. Kensuke Tanaka bunted him over to second. Atsunori Inaba popped out to short after that, and Fernando Seguignol was intentionally walked for whatever reason -- I guess in theory to go after Shinji Takahashi, who was already 2-for-3 for the day at that point. Huh. So Takahashi hits the ball to third, and Jose Fernandez boots it, loading the bases.

Yukio Tanaka comes in as a pinch-hitter for Naoto Inada, and rather than singing his cheer song, which starts "Let's go, Yukio, home run!", I'm sure the Fighters fans were actually singing the "chance music".

Which is ironic, because Yukio took the second pitch he saw, a slider breaking low and inside, and walloped it into the first row of seats in left field for a grand slam home run!

It had been two years since Yukio last hit a home run, and the last time he hit a grand slam was August 13, 2001, back when the Fighters were still calling the Tokyo Dome their home. (Source: Nikkan Sports)

Maybe my estimate of late May for his 2000th hit was a little hasty after all; the old man undoubtedly just earned himself some more playing time with that blast!

(This reminds me of following the 2004 Mariners -- even though they sucked, you checked the score every day to see how many hits Ichiro got, in the Sisler chase. The Fighters are sucking it up this year so far too, but the first thing I check in each box score is whether Yukio played and got a hit. I also check every Dragons box score to see how Masahiko Morino did, but alas, Dragonbutt is finally settling into a comfortable low-300's batting average and not stealing Fukudome's fire anymore, sadly. Norichika Aoki of the Swallows also finally fell below .400; he was really starting to scare me, though if anyone in Japan right now had the potential to hit .400 for the season, it's him, for sure.)

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