June 11th, 2009
Tokyo Yakult Swallows 6
Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks 3
Streak: Won 1 Last 5: WLWLW
In 2009 a Shohei Tateyama start is becoming shorthand for almost certain victory. And tonight it proved no different, as he got good run support to go with his decent seven innings to put a spoke in the wheel of the SoftBank Interleague winning-machine.
Tateyama gave up three runs off four hits (including two homers), striking out three and walking three to put his record at 8 and 0 with a 1.858 ERA. He is now on a run of 14 wins since he last experienced defeat. He is, as I will not tire of saying, THE M.F. MAN.
Tonight’s lineup saw Takada shuffle his lineup even more that usual:
- Fukuchi (LF)
- Tanaka (2B)
- Aoki (CF)
- Guiel (RF)
- Hatakeyama (DH)
- Miyamoto (3B)
- Yuichi (1B)
- Aikawa (C)
- Kawashima Keizo (SS)
Ohba started on the mound for Softbank, and he had already been the losing pitcher reponsible for one of the three games they’d lost out of their seventeen games against CL opposition so far this year.
And Ohba fell behind in the top of the 2nd inning in this game, primarily of his own doing. Two two-out walks for Miyamoto and Yuichi put two men on for Aikawa. The catcher hit a single to right, and Miyamoto was waved home and beat the (wayward) throw home, while Yuichi advanced to third and Aikawa to second, 1-0 Tokyo. Next man Keizo then hit a fly ball to left which was well snagged by Ortiz leaning over the small wall in left, and the two men were stranded.
Then in the top of the 3rd, Yakult had a chance to extend that lead. After two strikeouts for Ohba, he issued three straight walks (and walks 4,5 and 6 of the evening for Ohba) to Aoki, Guiel and Hatakeyama to load the bases. Ohba was then benched as SoftBank turned to the bullpen with Satoh coming in to replace the starter. And the reliever got the job done, striking out Miyamoto after a nine-pitch battle to strand yet more runners.
And Fukuoka drew level in the bottom of the 3rd. Third baseman Matsuda getting his team’s first hit of the game, a solo shot over the fence in left and we were level at 1-1.
Tokyo would retake the lead in the top of the 4th. Yuichi led off the inning with a single to right before Aikawa flew out to centre for out number one. During next man Keizo’s at bat, a poor throw from catcher Tanoue allowed Yuichi to be safe at second after a failed hit and run/ill-advised steal (both are Takada hallmarks.) The wee shortstop then hit one deep to right that rolled to the outfield wall, the run scored easily and Keizo hustled to third base for a RBI triple. 2-1 Tokyo. And he would swiftly be brought home by a Fukuchi sac-fly for 3-1.
And another run followed in the 5th. Singles from Aoki and Guiel put men on the corners with no-outs for Hatakwyama. He hit a grounder to short as the Hawks turned the double play, allowing one run to score and make it 4-1 Tokyo. The double play would prove costly as subsequent singles from Miyamoto and Yuichi would be wasted, and the birds left both men stranded.
The Hawks however weren’t done yet. In the bottom of the 5th, Tateyama walked Matsuda and Tanoue then hit a homer to left and the lead was down to one with the score at 4-3. Tokyo’s four runs to that point had come off seven hits, while Softbank’s three runs had come off a mere three hits. Which is just one example of why they’ve been kicking all kinds of ass of late.
The Swallows added another run to the lead in the 7th. Guiel hit a leadoff single before Hatakeyama was out via an excellent diving catch from secondbaseman Honda. Miyamoto then hit a grounder to third, but he just beat the double play ball to first as Guiel was out at second for out number two. An error from shortstop Kawasaki then allowed Yuichi aboard as Yakult had men on first and second. Aikawa then hit to centre with centrefielder Hasehgawa taking the ball on the hop. Miyamoto made it home by the skin of his teeth and it was 5-3. That was Aikawa’s second timely hit of the evening and his second RBI as he raised his average to .261.
And their final run came in the 8th. Two walks from reliever Kamiuchi were punished by a timely Guiel single that brought home one runner and made it 6-3 Tokyo.
With Igarashi (1.543) and Lim (0.00/16 saves) working their usual deadly effective 8th and 9th inning shifts, Tokyo avoided a four game sweep at the hands of Fukuoka, 6-3 Final.
Guiel (.287) had a 3 for 4 game with a walk as he is starting to put in the kind of consistent performances that are rewarding both the team and fans’ faith in him. He is fast becoming one of Tokyo’s key men with the bat as well as the glove. His relentlessly positive attitude doesn’t hurt either.
Yuichi (.333) also had a good evening going 2 for 3 with a walk and he will only add to the healthy competition for starting places at the ballclub.
Tokyo’s IL record is now back at .500 with a 9-9 record. Trying to finish the IL games with at least a .500 record is key, as they will be able to restart the CL campaign still healthily over .500 overall.
They now get a day off before heading to Osaka for two games at the Osaka/Kyocera Dome against the Buffaloes from Saturday.