4/7/09 – Chunichi (Home)

April 7th, 2009

Tokyo Yakult Swallows cap

Chunichi Dragons 4

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 3

Streak: Lost 1    Last ?: LWWL
(Jingu Stadium)

At Tokyo’s first home game of the 2009 season, there were fireworks and new dance routines. There were old friends and the beer prince (who is also an old friend). There was old-school hitting (Miyamoto) and new (D’Antona). But unfortunately there was also Takada.

Tokyo began this first game of a series versus the league-leading Chunichi Dragons by singling in a run in both the second and fourth innings. D’Antona, who went 4-5 (including two doubles), started things off both times, and both times Miyamoto brought him home. 2-0 Tokyo.

Fujii  tied things up in the fifth with a two-run homer off Tokyo starter, Tateyama, but Tokyo took the lead again in the bottom of that inning when Aoki scored on a Guiel single to left. 3-2 Tokyo.

After that point, Takada’s inaction started to become an issue. Some would argue that Tateyama should have been relieved after the fifth inning with a one-run lead. Others would say that it was OK to leave him in. However, Tateyama did give up the tying run in the sixth, but it’s hard not to call that 20/20 hindsight.

But it’s even harder not to call Takada’s next decision stupid. With one out and Tanaka on second base in the bottom of the sixth (and Igarashi good and warm in the bullpen), Takada let Tateyama take his at-bat. So…two outs. I’ll give you three guesses whether or not Tanaka ever made it home… 3-3.

Tokyo wasn’t able to bring anyone else around over the next couple of innings, and then all of a sudden it was the top of the ninth.

To be fair, Tateyama did well. He pitched eight full innings and didn’t give up any more runs after the sixth.

But Takada managed to damage Tokyo’s chances yet again. With Wada on second and one out, Fujii again came to the plate. He’s leading the league in home runs right now and seems to be seeing the ball very well. He’s also the guy who hit that two-run, game tying dinger earlier in the game. Incidentally, following Fujii in Chunichi’s lineup is Oda, the Dragons second-string catcher who doesn’t have a hit yet this season. With first base open and a weak hitter on deck, it seemed like a logical time to walk the opposing team’s hottest hitter. Indeed, Ken was saying it before Fujii even entered the batter’s box, and Sugimoto-san was screaming the same thing from the picnic area behind us.

Single to shallow left. Wada scored. 4-3 Chunichi. And that’s how it ended. Oshimoto took the loss.

Tateyama (2.25 ERA) threw 122 pitches in eight innings of work. He gave up three runs (two earned) off of only four hits, and he had four K’s against two walks and a single beaning. Definitely a promising first start of the season for him.

D’Antona led the way on offense, but Aoki reached base three times and Guiel, Miyamoto and Tanaka reached base twice each. The Swallows outhit the Dragons 11-6.

TAKADA COUNT: 1

[This is a new stat that goes into effect as of today to help keep track of how many games the manager, Takada, plays a direct role (either through action or inaction) in throwing away.]

About Christopher Pellegrini

Christopher is a budding sabermetrician and long-time supporter of Tokyo's more lovable team, the Swallows. He has publicly volunteered, several times, that he plans to buy the team at some point in the future. When he finally runs the joint, it is likely that he will fine any player who swings at the first pitch or sac bunts (unless it's a pitcher, of course). Follow him on Twitter: @chrispellegrini

  • http://www.japaneconomynews.com Kenzo

    It was fine to leave Tateyama in after 5. He had only given up four hits. But not pinch hitting for him in the bottom of the sixth was an unforgivable error. It should be an E-M (Error Manager).

    Yes, I called for Fujii to be given an IBB, but who wouldn’t? I turned to Dave and said “Walk him?” and Dave nodded like it was a stupid question, then said, “Let’s see what they throw at him.” As if he already knew they would mess this one up.

    And they threw him strikes…and they lost.

    I think that play bothered Sugimoto more than any other (including the 15 second pitching delays).

    I knew it was going to be a bad night when I hit myself in the nuts with my cheering bats in the third inning (no, I had not had anything to drink).

    We should also mention Nomoto taking that crazy dive over the bullpen mound trying to catch the foul ball. It was funny, but for a second I thought he might have been hurt. I’m glad it turned out funny.

    This was a real bummer of a home opener. I said I was going to boycott it over the ugly new uniforms, and I should have. Takada has to go. On the way out of the stadium, the crowd was almost hostile: ???????????????

    That’s gotta be a bad sign. I know the bleacher bums can be hard on players and managers, but Takada is becoming a lightning rod for frustration. He clearly cannot manage a baseball team, his salary is a waste of money, and if something doesn’t change by the all-star break I’m not going to bother showing up except for the occasional weekend game…so long as it’s not one of those bloody couples nights full of idiots who don’t know the songs.

    I’m not sure if it jinxed the team or not, but I got home and found out my underwear was on inside out. They surely get paid enough to overcome that.

    Of course, I might be signing a different tune after a big win tomorrow night. But I’m not going, Takada pissed me off too much and I need a night off. See you guys Thursday.

  • Rob

    Notes:

    The scoreboard still blows.

    Beer prices went up.

    Tanishige hurt himself running around first (?) on what ended up as a deep foul ball, so Oda had to replace him and finish the AB – with a full count. Poor guy.

    In the ninth, it looked like Aihara in LF pulled up to concede Fujii’s single and the run. That’s usually a safe play, and where it was hit it would have been an easy RBI double if he had tried for it and missed it – but you don’t want to concede the go-ahead run in the ninth. I need to see that again.

  • http://www.japaneconomynews.com/ Ken Worsley

    Rob,

    We mocked the scoreboard a few times. What’s with all the blank space? It’s unreal. A hitter’s current average is not displayed, nor is his performance in the game thus far.

    Beer prices haven’t gone up for us. What are you buying?

    I don’t think Aihara could have gotten that ball, though I also need to take another look at it.

  • http://www.transpacificradio.com David Watkins

    The play in the bottom of the 6th is the one I’m most bothered about.

    After Tanaka was plunked to put him on first, then moved to third on a wild pitch during Aikawa’s at bat, it was a man at third with no outs situation. The same situation from which Chunichi had easily scored in the top of the inning.

    Aikawa, rather than concentrating on bringing the runner home, as he’s proved himself well capable of doing so far this season, had to worry about some feigning to bunt instructions from the third base coach. At one point he had to walk over to the coach to confirm his instructions. And that proved costly as he ended up harmlessly grounding out.

    So, one out. No problem though as surely they’ll pinch hit for Tateyama right? Wrong. Tatayama remained in, flailed at a few pitches before flying out. The ice-cold Fukuchi then grounded out and a golden chance to pull ahead in such a tight game was lost.

    The 9th inning Fuji incident just compounded things.

    Takada is an imbecile and has no business managing a professional baseball club.

    Our otherwise promising looking team may well be pulled down by idiotic decision making such as witnessed last night over the course of the season. Which is a shame. A huge shame.

  • http://www.transpacificradio.com/ Garrett DeOrio

    Can’t say I’m surprised. Early last year, I started saying that Takada was doing more harm than good, actively costing the team games and apparently calling plays at random when not sitting there lost, apparently unaware of what was going on. He appeared to get less and less competent throughout the 2008 season and has apparently learned nothing in the off-season, which isn’t surprising – were he the kind of guy who learned, there wouldn’t be such a problem. As it stands, he has apparently learned nothing in his post-playing career. As we here at the Tsubamegun noticed last year, the numbers show him to be doing basically the same thing he did with Nippon Ham 24 years ago. Now, he did get them to third in his third year, which would be nice, but it would be nicer if we didn’t have a manager who was costing us so many games. The sooner he is gone, the better.

  • http://www.japaneconomynews.com/ Ken Worsley

    Dave, the Aikawa incident was worth mentioning as well. I know the guy’s new to the team, but it’s worrisome when the catcher doesn’t know the signs. Maybe they had new signs that inning and he missed them taking off his gear. Maybe the base coach did something that confused him. I don’t know, and we’ll probably never know, but it’s an indication that the team doesn’t have its act together.

  • Rob

    Oops – maybe I’ve incurred the wrath of my beer provider. And I thought we had a good thing going! Y750 for Asahi Super Dry from a keg thingie, Y700 last year.

    Yah, I’m not sure about the Iihara play (sorry – Iihara, not Aihara. Aikawa on the brain? You see why taking the data off the scoreboard is such a problem for me?), and certainly the runner was off as though he knew Iihara had no chance to get it.

    Can’t get out there tonight, so I have to watch it on TV. Will look for y’all!

  • http://jhockey.wordpress.com/ simoncurrie

    Yeah, the draft beer went up in price. I guess the Tsubamegun guys are true to their bottled beers which I assume hasn’t gone up in price :P

  • Christopher

    I like the Takada count – its a good idea but be honest he’s better than Furuta, isn’t he?

  • http://www.transpacificradio.com/ Christopher Pellegrini

    Christopher,
    That’s an excellent question. I’d say yes and no. My take on the Furuta era was that he had a bunch of things working against him: the fact that he was a player-manager (and yet never played); the continued existence of a less-than-stellar pitching coach; and the inordinate number of super-old veterans waiting around to retire (but still taking up valuable real estate on the bench) to name a few.

    Takada, in my view, has far fewer coaching obstacles to deal with. He’s old enough that his coaches defer to him and generally do what he tells them to. He has a top-class pitching coach, and he had the youngest team in Japan last year (they may still be actually).

    I believe that when it comes down to real-time decisions, Furuta is the better manager. However, all of the extra junk that came along with having Furuta manage while still (allegedly) playing turned him into a pretty bad skipper.

    In that sense he was worse than Takada. However, considering all that baggage, you would expect Takada to win a good deal more games than Furuta did during Tokyo’s 6th-place 2007 campaign. However, Takada only beat Furuta’s tally by six games despite all the relative advantages that he enjoyed.

    I don’t know if I’m making any sense here, but what I’m basically trying to argue is that in terms of win-loss record at the end of the season, Takada wins. But if the conditions were equal, like they may be if Furuta has another go at it in 10 years or so, then I believe that he would likely put Takada to shame.

  • http://www.transpacificradio.com David Watkins

    ^^^^ what he said.

  • http://www.transpacificradio.com David Watkins

    Plus, let us not forget, no matter how bad things got under Furuta, there was the fact that the man was/is a living legend for Swallows fans, which did help soften the pain somewhat (though not enough).

    Takada has no such wild card with which to fall back on.