April 8th, 2009
Chunichi Dragons 4
Tokyo Yakult Swallows 8
Streak: Won 1 Last 5: LWWLW
After yesterday’s game, we’d seen the 2009 Tokyo starting rotation begin to take shape. Ishikawa, Yoshinori, Kawashima and Tateyama made up the first four spots. So tonight saw the initial No.5 slot taken up by a quite unlikely candidate. Eleven years after his last starting role, 40 year old journeyman Masao Kida, a man who many (possibly including himself) thought would not still be with the organisation this year, took the mound at Jingu to start against the Dragons.
And after overcoming a rocky 1st inning (5 hits, including a Morino 3RHR for 3-0 Chunichi) Kida showed the heart for which he has become known, allowing only one more hit over the next four innings to put him in line for a win to commemorate his remarkable start.
Yakult started to chip away at the early Chunichi lead in the 2nd inning. Guiel got on base with a double, Miyamoto then singled and a throwing error from center fielder Fuji allowed Guiel to score to make it 3-1 Chunichi.
Another run came in the 3rd, D’Antona displaying good plate discipline swinging only once after working the count full to single and bring home Kawashima. 3-2 Chunichi.
And the Swallows would blow the doors off in the bottom of the 5th. Ten men came to the plate to the sum of five hits, two walks and four runs scored, the big damage done by a 2RBI double from Guiel and a 2RBI single from Aikawa. 6-3 Tokyo.
After Matsuoka relieved Kida to pitch a one hit scoreless top of the 6th, Yakult would make sure of their victory in the bottom of the same inning. Solo homers from Aoki (his first of the year) and Guiel (second of 2009) made it 8-3 Tokyo.
Igarashi then pitched another one hit scoreless inning in the top of the 7th. Next man in relief Oshimoto gave up a run on a solo homer to new Dragons firstbaseman Tony Blanco in the 8th to make it 8-4 but that was a close as they would get with Lim shutting things down in the 9th to make it 8-4 Final.
Guiel and Kida made up the after game hero interview. Guiel commented that he was just taking it a game at a time as he was trying to overcome his poor 2008 to prove himself to his teammates, manager and fans. Kida mused on why he was selected for the hero interview, as he didn’t think he’d been all that, modestly not dwelling on the significance of his start and victory.
Other points of note:
Aoki went 2 for 5 with his homer, showing signs that the post WBC rust is starting to wear off. He’s now hitting .227.
Guiel went 3 for 4 with two doubles and a HR to the tune of 3 RBIs. He’s now at .286 on the year.
Miyamoto continued his good start to 2009 with a 2 for 3 performance with a walk to take him to .389.
D’Antona’s one timely hit took his average down to .429.
Leaving the game after 4 and 2/3 innings of 6 run (5 earned) baseball, Chunichi starter Nakata had a bit of a hissy fit after returning to the bench, pounding the walls with his glove. Makes a change from me having one anyway.
The two teams meet again tomorrow evening for the last game of the series, on what promises to be another beautiful spring evening at Jingu Stadium.