April 22nd, 2010
Chunichi Dragons 3
Streak: Lost 1 Last 5: LWLDL
The right ingredients were mostly there: another good start from Tony Barnette and 8 hits for the Swallows to the Dragons 6. But the one thing missing was the one thing that has plagued Tokyo for the last few weeks – the inability to string hits together and develop the momentum to bring home runs. For all of these games in Nagoya this week, the starters have done their level best to give the team a chance to win, but at the moment things are just not working at the offensive end of the team.
Tonight’s lineup saw just one change from the re-jigged version from the night before, with Morioka coming in at short for Fujimoto:
- Tanaka (2B)
- Morioka (SS)
- Miyamoto (3B)
- Aoki (CF)
- Guiel (RF)
- Ihara (LF)
- D’Antona (1B)
- Aikawa (C)
- Barnette (P)
After getting a hit off Chunichi starter Yoshimi in each of the first three innings and stranding a runner in scoring position each time, Ihara took matters into his own hands in the 4th, hitting a one-out solo homer to left (his first of the year) to make it 1-0 Tokyo.
Barnette gave up just one hit over his first three, but saw the lead slip straight out of his hands in the bottom of the 4th. Consecutive doubles from Morino and Blanco made it 1-1, and then two outs later, with Blanco now on third, an Aikawa passed ball needlessly allowed the go-ahead run home to make it 2-1 Chunichi.
Tokyo’s next chance to get back in the game came in the 6th. Finally the Swallows strung together some hits with singles from Aoki and Guiel put two on with no outs for Ihara. The same Ihara who hit a home run off Yoshimi early in the game, so give him the sign to swing away right? Wrong. Not with Takada in da house. No, he called for a sac/tak bunt to move the runners along, which Ihara just about pulled off for out number one. Momentum deflated. Next man up D’Antona, a man who, despite his home run last night, hasn’t been in the best of form of late, could only strike out for out number two. Aikawa then did the same an the inning was over with the runners stranded.
Another chance came and went in the top of the 8th. Ihara came to bat with two outs on the board, and hit one deep to the wall in left centre. Chunichi centre fielder Cesar got his glove to the ball while running back towards the wall, but he couldn’t come up with it before he ran into the wall and fell over, allowing Ihara to make it to third. It was rather harshly judged to be an error to Cesar. But it made no difference as D’Antona then struck out once more to leave Ihara at third.
And in the bottom of the 8th, Chunichi would make sure of their victory. With Takagi on the mound having also worked the 7th, Tony Blanco hit a solo homer to left to make it 3-1 Chunichi.
Iwase came in for his nightly shift in the 9th, but allowed a two-out single to Tanaka which brought up Hatakeyama (pinch hitting for Morioka). After laying off two balls, and watching another pitch for a strike, he clubbed one to right that left the field, only it was just to the right of the foul pole and the comeback wasn’t to be. He then grounded out on the next pitch and it was all over 3-1 Chunichi Final.
Barrnette took the loss, despite his decent 6 innings of 4 hit 2 run (1 earned) baseball. He struck out 4 and walked three, and his record now stands at 2-1/1.73.
Tanaka was again the only batter in any kind of form, going 3 for 5 with his average now at a very healthy .344.
Coming into today’s game the duo of Aaron Guiel and Jamie D’Antona were in the midst of quite a slump. Guiel was 2 for 34, and D’Antona 4 for 36, which is bad enough in itself. But factor in 15 Ks for Aaron and 18 for Jamie and you can see a big factor in Tokyo’s recent offensive impotence.
Both managed a hit each this evening though, however D’Antona’s usual knack for bringing home men was nowhere to be seen tonight with his two Ks with men in scoring positions. Guiel is currently batting .218 with D’Antona on .258. Hopefully they can both re-discover some of their early season form sharpish.
So two losses and a draw in Nagoya, not great. But there are reasons for optimism. All three of these games with this very decent Chunichi team were very close affairs, with not a great deal between the two teams. Plus the pitching, both starting and in relief is definitely doing it’s bit. Those bats just need some viagra. Oh shit, and there’s Takada at the helm which just brings the optimism needle back down again. Oh well.
From here, Tokyo head to Yokohama for three games starting tomorrow evening. Hopefully the curse of Yokohama has been firmly left in 2009.