May 25th, 2011
Tokyo Yakult Swallows 1
Streak: L1 (6-game winless streak) Last 5: LLLDL
(Meiji Jingu Stadium)
After a week on the skids and their lead in the CL dropping to a precarious half game ahead of Hiroshima, the Swallows took the field against the PL’s last-place perennial doormats, Orix, hoping to regain some of the momentum that surprised and delighted High City and Low and led them to the top of the charts. 1-4-1 and 11th of 12 in the Interleague campaign is no place to be.
Last year, the Buffaloes managed to take 3 of 4 from the Birds, with Tokyo taking only Ogawa-kantoku‘s second game at the helm. At the time, emerging from the darkness of the Takada era, Interleague proved a turning point of sorts for the club and their new skipper. A year later, slipping after a cracking start, the Tsubamegun watched for Tokyo’s fortunes to rise again in May.
To do that, though, Tokyo’s offense had to give more support to Yamamoto & Co. than they have been of late in order to lift themselves over the Dominican rookie Figaro and his fellow ruffians from ’round Kobe way.
For the Homeboys:
For the Opposition:
Yamamoto started off the game by giving up a hit to Sakaguchi, but saved himself by quickly getting former Swallow Kajimoto to ground into a double-play. Lest the Tokyo faithful have high spirits for too long, though, Yamamoto promptly walked former St. Louis Cardinal Taguchi, then former Giant and once-highest-paid-player in Japan Li, then former Met Hessman, then the ridiculously-self-named “T-Okada”, not so much letting in as lobbying for and doing everything in your power to give up a run. That control Yamamoto needed to develop? Still not there. He got out of the inning by striking out the .209-hitting Ohbiki. 1-0 Orix.
Yamamoto made up for his awful start by not letting another man on until he gave up a triple to Sakaguchi with two outs in the fifth, then made it out of the inning safely.
Orix’s Figaro, for his part, struck out three while not letting a man on until he walked Guiel in the 4th with two outs as the Swallows kept up their weak offense of late.
Finally, in the bottom of the sixth, Whitesell pinch hit for Yamamoto and proved his mettle by placing a high outside fastball in the left field bleachers. 1-1.
Hashimoto took the mound in the 7th and brought hope to Mudville by striking out the bottom of the order 1-2-3.
In the top of the 8th, though, Hashimoto faced the top of Orix’s order and went hit, sac bunt, RBI triple, then was replaced by Kyuko, who gave up an RBI single. It took a baserunning error by pinch-runner Moriyama to get the Birds out of the inning. 3-1 Orix.
Matsui pitched the 9th and gave up a solo home run to Ito. 4-1 Orix, Final.
Hashimoto took the loss. While this wasn’t the Birds’ best pitching day, the offense is sporadic and not very (sob) supportive.
Orix again tomorrow night.