May 19th, 2010
Saitama Seibu Lions 3
Streak: Lost 6 Last 5: LLLLL
The Tokyo Swallows took their one-ring circus to Saitama for game two at Seibu Dome against the Lions. The first inning wasn’t particularly encouraging, from an offensive standpoint anyway, but things got mildly better after that.
But before we get carried away, let me just preface this business with a quick reminder that the Takada Count climbed a notch higher.
Takada Count: 7
Today’s starting lineup:
Tanaka started his amazing evening (3-4, 1 run scored) with a double off of Saitama starter, Ishii. For whatever reason, and this is where the Takada Count moves northward, Miyamoto was asked to bunt. The Tak-bunt didn’t get the job done, however, as our trusty number six bounced his bunt close enough to home plate that Hosokawa was able to gun Tanaka down at third.
Fine start killed. Thank you, Mr. T.
But it wasn’t all bad, even if our beloved manager tried to keep it so. Miyamoto brought two runs around a bit later on a broken bat double down the line in left. 2-0 Tokyo.
Question: can you remember the last time Tokyo scored first in a regular season game? What a coincidence. Neither can we.
Saitama eventually got one back in the fourth when Nakajima hit a solo homer into the camera well in center. 2-1 penguins.
The inevitable equalizer came in the bottom of the seventh when Kataoka hit two identical looping liners, the first one foul, down the paint in left to score one and leave runners on second and third with two outs.
And then, with hell clearly on the horizon, Aoki saved the day with a phenomenal diving catch in the right-center gap to get the third out .
But the birds continued to put up very little fight at the plate against former Tokyo Swallows star, Kazuhisa Ishii. The Tokyo lineup, from three (Aoki) to eight (Yoshimoto), collected nary a single hit on the evening.
The heartbreaker came in the bottom of the ninth with Lim issuing a lead-off walk. Hosokawa kindly struck out (again), but then Kataoka came up with his second RBI double in as many at-bats to give Lim his first loss of the season and the birds their sixth loss in a row. 3-2 final.
Ishikawa didn’t figure in the decision yet again, and he will have to wait at least until next week to get his first win of 2010. He gave up two runs (both earned) off of five hits (one homer) in seven innings of work. His control wasn’t what it usually is (2 K, 3 BB, 1 HBP), and he relied on some amazing defense–you should have seen Iihara’s diving grab to end the eighth–in order to get out of a couple tough jams, but as he so often does, he got the outs when he needed them.
The effort on defense, I must say, is very nice to see. The guys are hustling, no doubt about that. It would just be nice if we stopped giving away free outs all the time with our incessant Tak-bunting.
Kinugawa batting DH?! You should have heard the indignation in the stands when that one was announced. I think we need a new hyphenated expression for this kind of lineup decision. How about “Tak-order”?