August 27th, 2009
Tokyo Yakult Swallows 6
Streak: Lost 2 Last : LLWLL
Oh dear. Things are not going well at the moment. At. all.
Just like the Carp did the night before, Tokyo found themselves with a 6-0 lead at the end of their 2nd inning of play. But unlike the prior game, the Carp didn’t just roll over like the Swallows had done, they got stuck in and turned the game around. With a little theatrical help from their manager to boot.
Tonight’s lineup for your Tokyo Yakult Swallows:
- Keizo (SS)
- Fukuchi (LF)
- Aoki (CF)
- Hatakeyama (1B)
- Ihara (RF)
- Miyamoto (3B)
- Tanaka (2B)
- Aikawa (C)
- Muranaka (P)
Muranaka started for Tokyo, coming into the game with a dismal 0-4/8.06 record in his 5 starts since returning to the rotation. And it looked as though he may get a real shot at winning his first game of the season, not to mention the Swallows first series win of the month as Tokyo took a big early lead.
In the 1st inning the Swallows faced Carp starter Saitoh, and a two out walk and error allowed two men on base before Ihara hit his 4th homer of the year, this one deep to centre and it was 3-0 Tokyo. Consecutive singles from Miyamoto, Tanaka and Aikawa then added another run and it was 4-0.
Muranaka gave up a walk and a single in the bottom of the 1st, but got out of the inning unscathed. Then in the top of the 2nd, Saitoh was replaced by Hasegawa but the change made little difference, with a Keizo single and an Aoki homer to right (no.12 for the season) extending the lead to 6-0 Tokyo.
The stage looked set for the ever-nervous looking Muranaka to build a bit of confidence for himself with a big lead to work with, but it wasn’t to be. A leadoff homer from Hirose made it 6-1 before two more hits yielded another run putting a man on second with two outs and the score now at 6-2. Now I can only assume that given Muranaka’s tendency for throwing batting practice for teams this season, he was on a very short leash tonight. Thus Takada had obviously seen enough and called for Kida from the bullpen (double switch with Takeuchi replacing Hatakeyama at first). Muranaka had worked 1 and 2/3 innings giving up two runs off four hits.
Now last night, having given up 6 runs in the first 2 innings, Ryo Kawashima was left in the game for another two innings (he ended up with 9 earned runs for his efforts). Surely Muranaka deserved a little more time tonight? For a pitcher low on confidence surely this was the ideal chance to give him a run-out with a lead to fall back on, even taking into account as bad as he’s been this year? Surely it wouldn’t have worked out any worse than what eventually transpired anyway? Maybe I should try sniffing glue and I may be able to better grasp the enigma that is Takada-logic.
Kida showed his manager’s genius by hitting the first man he faced with his first pitch, but he did get the final out with the lead intact at four.
Tokyo managed two hits off Hasegawa in the top of the 3rd but couldn’t bring anyone home to extend the lead. Kida (5.72) then gave up two runs off four hits in the bottom of the inning and things were getting tighter at 6-4.
From then on four Hiroshima arms shut down the Tokyo bats, allowing just two more hits over the distance. So it was a case of if Tokyo’s weary bullpen could protect that two run lead, and for a while it looked like they might just manage it.
Oshimoto (2.68) pitched excellent scoreless 4th and 5th innings before Matsuoka came in for the 6th. He had a 1-2-3 inning before taking the mound in the 7th, when things started to go awry. Things started with Kurihara hitting a one out single. McClain was then chucked out of the game halfway though his at bat for questioning a called strike, his incensed reaction prompted manager Marty Brown to get himself chucked out of the game too, after which he took off his shoes and placed them behind home plate before placing his cap neatly on top to the bemusement of everyone in the stadium. But as an act of trying to gee up his team and the crowd it worked, 100%. As the homeplate umpire took to the mic to announce the dismissal of McClain and Brown he could barely be heard above the jeering crowd. And you just knew what was coming next……
After that drama a single and a wild pitch put the tying runs in scoring positions with just one out, Hirose then hit one to the leftfield wall for a double and it was 6-6. But they weren’t done yet. Kokubo singled and it was 7-6 Hiroshima, the shortstop advancing to second on the throw home. And it could have got even worse, with Shima singling to centre, but Aoki managed to throw Kokubo out at home for out number two. Matsuoka (3.10) was then replaced by Lee after giving up three runs off five hits and making 46 pitches. Lee (3.58) got the final out of the inning and also worked a scoreless 8th.
With Hiroshima’s ace set-up man Yokoyama and closer Nagakawa working the 8th and 9th innings respectively that was that, 7-6 Final.
Tokyo were outhit 15 to 10 as they blew the chance of a long overdue series win. Takada’s use of pitchers was once again questionable to say the least (turning to the bullpen after less than two innings with a four run lead, the overworked Matsuoka in his 46th appearance of the year working two innings and ultmately taking the loss) and for that I’m going to raise the Takada count:
TAKADA COUNT: 8
From here things look to go downhill even further as Tokyo entertain the Chunichi Dragons at Jingu from tomorrow. Can my soul take it I wonder? Well I’ll be there to find out!