May 14th, 2009
Tokyo Yakult Swallows 8
Chunichi Dragons 5
Streak: Won 2 Last 5: LWLWW
Tokyo came back from an early four run deficit to win the game and take the series in Nagoya and maintain their healthy position in the CL.
Takada continued in his search for another member to add to the the Ishikawa/Tateyama/Kawashima trio of reliable starters as he put Takaichi on the mound for his second start of the year.
The 25 year old didn’t do his cause too much good though as he only lasted two innings after giving up four runs off five hits with two walks. All of the hits and runs came in the second inning as a Tony Blanco solo homer opened the inning before Chunichi batted around to take a 4-0 lead.
Yakult were facing Dragons’ starter Ogasawara and they got back into the game in the top of the 4th inning. Consecutive sing?es from Fukuchi and Aoki opened up the inning. D’Antona then hit one off the fence in rightfield to make it 4-1 and put runners on second and third with no outs. Next man up Guiel grounded out to second but it was enough to score Aoki and make it 4-2 as D’Antona advanced to third. Miyamoto struck out for the second out before Aikawa stepped up to the plate. The catcher singled to right to bring home the American and narrow the lead to a single run. 4-3 Tokyo.
Both teams had hitless 5th and 6th innings before Chunichi pressed the self destruct button in the top of the 7th.
Ogasawara started the inning still on the mound, and gave up three one-out singles to Aikawa, Noguchi and pinch-hitter Ihara to load the bases. In came Saitoh in relief, and he walked Kawashima Keizo to bring in the tying run for 4-4. But he wasn’t done yet as Fukuchi then drew a walk of his own to put the birds ahead at 5-4. A rather dis?usted looking Chunichi manager Ochiai then bought in Takaha?hi to face yet another bases loaded one-out jam.
But would you believe it, another run was walked in, this time Aoki earned the free pass to first and it was 6-4 Tokyo. Up stepped D’Antona who hit a flyball deep to right for the second out, allowing Kawashima home from third, but Aoki tried to take second and was tagged at the bag to end the inning with the score at a remarkable 7-4 Tokyo. All three of the walked-in runs were tagged on starter Ogasawara’s record as he sat visibly fuming internally on the bench.
Kida gave up three hits, plunked a man and conceded a run to make it 7-5 in the bottom of the 7th. He was replaced by Oshimoto with the bases loaded and one out, but he got Blanco to hit into a double play that ended the inning and kept the lead at two runs.
Igarashi gave up a hit and a walk in the bottom of the 8th but escaped without giving up a run. Igarashi was clocked as high as 154kmph as he seems to be getting his velocity back. Hopefully he can maintain the control to go with it.
Yakult added a security run in the top of the 9th. Noguchi walked to open the inning, and was then moved around to third on two successive groundouts. The RBI came from pinch-hitter Tanaka who poked a single up the middle and it was 8-5 Tokyo.
Lim gave up a hit in the bottom of the 9th, but closed things down for his eleventh save of 2009 and it was 8-5 Final.
The Swallows used a total of seven pitchers during the game (ERAs listed in brackets): Takaichi (6.750), Kamada (in his 1st appearance of the season) and Matsuoka (2.298) all put in two innings of work. Kida (4.875) and Oshimoto (2.755) shared an inning of work before Igarashi (2.700) and Lim (0.00) put in their now customary 8th and 9th inning stints.
Matsuoka took the win for his hitless two innings, his first win of the year.
So a good series win against a slightly scrappy Chunichi team. The season series between the teams now stands at 7 and 2 in Tokyo’s favour. Yakult now sit 5 games above .500 with an 18 and 13 record in second place in the CL, and now host a home series with the third place Hanshin Tigers from Friday evening.
The Tigers are 3.5 games behind Tokyo, and a good showing in the series will put daylight between the Swallows and their Kansai rivals.