September 10th, 2009
Tokyo Yakult Swallows 2
Streak: Lost 5 Last : LLLLL
You couldn’t make this shit up if you tried. The Swallows took a 2-0 lead into the 9th inning off the back of an excellent start from Hiromitsu Takagi. But wouldn’t you just know it, they would end up on the rough end of a 3-2 loss.
With Tokyo at their lowest ebb of the season so far, Takada had his most major re-jig of the lineup so far in ’09:
- Takeuchi (LF)
- Morioka (SS)
- Aoki (CF)
- D’Antona (1B)
- Guiel (RF)
- Miyamoto (3B)
- Tanaka (2B)
- Kawamoto (C)
- Takagi (P)
With the regular starting rotation now consisting of only the duo of Tateyama and Ishikawa, Takagi was called on to start after making five fairly promising appearances from the bullpen this year. Plus he beaned a Giant in the head last week so he’s good in my book.
He pitched an excellent seven innings of shutout baseball tonight, giving up just five hits while striking out three and walking one. He left the game with a 2-0 lead which should have landed him with his first pro-win, but of course he didn’t end up figuring in the decision. His ERA now sits at 1.00.
Takagi’s only major jam came in the 2nd, as a walk and two hits loaded the bases for Kura. But the catcher hit a line drive that was caught by Morioka, who threw to second for a 6-4 double play. He let a man get to second in each of the 6th and 7th innings but that was as dicey as it got for him.
Tokyo faced a quality starter in the Carp’s Ohtake. Tokyo got men on first and second in the first but strikeouts for D’Antona and Guiel ended the inning. In the 3rd they got a man to second, but Aoki grounded out to first to end it there. They got Guiel to third in the 4th but a Tanaka strikeout left him stranded. In the 5th Kawamoto got to second but strikeouts from Takeuchi and Morioka left him there.
Just as it looked like it would be another one of those nights, Aoki led off the 6th with a shot that hit the left foul pole for 1-0 Tokyo. It was his 13th homer of the year. Aoki punched the air as it hit the pole, and it looked like it may give the team the jolt back to life that they needed. D’Antona then singled and was replaced by the quick-footed Fukuchi. Guiel flew out for out number one, then Miyamoto grounded out to second, allowing Fukuchi to move to second. Next man up Tanaka stabbed one straight up the middle for a single, Fukuchi absolutely motored around the turn at third, beating the throw home while Tanaka advanced to second, 2-0 Tokyo. Kawamoto struck out to end the inning, but it seemed that the tide was starting to turn in the Swallows’ favour. Little did they know it would turn out to be one of those nights in the end after all.
In the top of the 8th, Lee (3.23) took to the mound in relief of Takagai. He looked rough as he walked the leadoff man, and just about managed to strikeout Higashide with the runner stealing second in the process. In came Yoshikawa (0.00). He faced the pinch-hitting Shima, who hit one deep to centre which initially looked like it may go out of the park, but Aoki took it for out number two. Phillips was struck out looking and then Tokyo was three outs from it’s first win in a week.
Yokoyama made short work of the middle of the Swallows order in the 8th and it was on to the 9th with Matsuoka taking the mound for Tokyo. The same Matsuoka who gave up a 9th inning three-run game winning homer against the Carp on Tuesday. It was his 49th appearance of the year, and he’s clearly looked tired for a while, but with Igarashi and Lim both on the DL the threadbare bullpen didn’t have too many better options left in it (though Takada really should have left the in-form Yoshikawa on the mound).
Matsuoka gave up a single to Kurihara to open the inning, then a walk to McClain. Amaya the struck out looking before Suenaga took to the plate. The same Suenaga who had hit just one homer so far this season and just six in his career as a whole. Well, of course the Swallows can do no right at the moment and the Carp no wrong, and so he hit the ball over the rightfield wall and it was 3-2 Hiroshima.
F*ck this shit.
Nakagawa allowed a walk in the 9th and the runner would make it to second, but he got Hatakeyama to ground out for the final out of the game (for his 30th save) and it was 3-2 Final.
For the second night in a row Tokyo had only managed five hits, but with a great start from Takagi and (eventually) some timely hitting from the bats, this was another deserved victory that wasn’t. But with Hanshin losing tonight, both they and Hiroshima are now just 1.5 games out of third. The momentum/luck does seem to be with Hiroshima at the moment though.
From here Tokyo travel to Nagoya for possibly another sweep or at the very least their 12th series loss on the trot. It doesn’t make a genius to figure out that Tokyo won’t be in 3rd place come the end of play on Sunday.