9/24/08 – Chunichi (Away)

September 24th, 2008

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 3 Tokyo Yakult Swallows cap

Chunichi Dragons 9

Streak: Lost 1 Last 5:WWLWL
(Nagoya Dome)

Tokyo lost the rubber game of the series as starter Ishikawa lasted just 1 and 2/3 innings against the Dragons.

Ishikawa struggled badly, giving up six hits and four runs (one walked in) in his short time on the mound, making 53 pitches before he was replaced by Matsui who pitched a shutout 2 and1/3 innings in relief.

Youngster Yoshinori came in to start the 5th but he walked one and gave up three runs on three hits without getting a man out before Oshimoto came in and ensured no more runs scored in the 5th and 6th innings.

Hanada pitched a scoreless 7th before giving up Chunichi’s eighth and ninth runs in the 8th.

Yakult actually took the lead in the top of the 1st off Chunichi starter Ogasawara, three hits and an RBI each for Ihara and Fukuchi gave the Swallows a 2-0 lead.  Ogasawara would last only two innings before being replaced by Kawakami who pitched three scoreless innings for the win in relief.

Tokyo’s third run came in the 8th, with and an Aoki single and Kawashima double scoring the consolation.

Ishikawa was tagged with the loss to tie his record up at 10 wins and 10 losses with an ERA of 2.855.

Keizo Kawashima was the only Swallow to have a multiple hit game, going 3 for 4 with an RBI.

Chunichi’s win puts them back in 3rd, with Yakult 4.5 games behind them in 5th.

Tokyo now have a two day rest before starting the rain-out makeup games schedule with a two game series in Hiroshima starting Saturday.  After that, they close out the season with an 11 game homestand at Jingu finishing on Saturday October 11th against the Giants.

About David Watkins

David is a baseball bothering Brummie who spends a fair portion of his life fretting over the Tokyo Swallows and the WORLD'S GREATEST FOOTBALL TEAM, Aston Villa. He completes the quartet of abusive sporting relationships by being a die hard New York Knicks and Mets fan. You can find him on twitter: @yakulto

  • Two observations wrought with negativity:

    1) As is normally the case for Tokyo, our starters are mixing up their good and bad days pretty evenly. Consistency has just not been part of the deal this decade season, but then again very few Central League starters have been able to claim that this season. It goes without saying that if this doesn’t change pretty damn quick, we’re going to end up in fifth. It feels like the starting rotation is absolutely devoid of leadership at this point…

    2) Chunichi, as we all knew they would, have started to put things together right when it matters. They’re not playing quite as well as Yomiuri at the moment, but they’re getting close, and the veterans on that team know how to turn it up a notch at key junctures in the season. This appears to be one of those times. They’ve only got nine games left, and if they win five of them (which they probably will), then we’ll need to win almost all of ours to sneak into the postseason. And despite playing at home for most of our remaining games, we’ve got rather desperate competition taking the train in for many of those contests. Hanshin will be fighting for home field advantage during the playoffs (they’ve watched helplessly as Yomiuri pulled level after being 13 games back at the beginning of July), and Hiroshima and Chunichi are not about to let Tokyo get in the middle of their little third place do-si-do. Any way you slice it, we’ve got our work cut out for us. The key question: will our starters be up for the challenge?

    Prognosis:
    Sadly, that question was largely rhetorical. If we had put up a better fight at Nagoya Dome this evening and made it a contest, then I’d be slightly more optimistic about our prospects. But before the game I was saying that this one would probably be the best indication we’ve had of where we’ll end up at the end of the season. The result according to this game? Solidly in fifth place.

    Why? The on-again-off-again pitching will be teamed with playing-for-one-run baseball (at all the wrong times, mind you), and all of those silly games that we lost earlier this year will come back to haunt us. Consequently, it’s very difficult to doubt that we’ll win only about 50% of our remaining games and stay about four games adrift.

    [For the record, I’ll take everything I’ve said back if the pitchers (ie. middle relievers) that we’ve been so patient with for the past three years finally start doing their job next season.]

  • Sorry, me again.

    Others on this site have pointed out that it appeared that Tokyo just didn’t care enough about winning baseball games this season.

    It appears that we had another case in point in this game.

    Third-string catcher, Yoneno, was given his ninth at bat of the season in the top of the eighth inning with us down by five runs. He struck out.

    Five runs. Is that an insurmountable deficit? Not according to the results of these back-to-back-to-back wins (go ahead, click on ’em) just a few short weeks ago. Hell, two of those games with 6-run innings were against Chunichi!

    So why play Yoneno now?

    All answers to that question, indignant or otherwise, are welcome at this time.

  • Takada is absolutely incompetent. On top of that, it’s hard to say even that his heart is in the right place, as his incompetence is so great as to make it seem like he really does not care to win. His decisions have forced this team to get whatever wins they’ve had in spite of him.

    I’ve gone into this in greater detail in the comment thread on this post (click it), but this year’s Swallows seem to have a fair bit in common with the Nippon Ham Fighters in 1984, Takada’s first year at the helm. At the time, Nippon Ham’s front office wouldn’t give him the players he wanted and he failed to adapt his strategy to the players he had. (My comment on that post briefly explains what the Fighters did under Takada.)

    Takada is simply the most glaring symptom of the wider perception problem in NPB, which is: good hitter = good player = good coach = good manager = knowledgeable about baseball. Baseball folks’ performances are only properly, thoroughly scrutinized when they’re playing. Managing is just not a skill Takada possesses and, no matter what the Swallows’ front office says, it’s hard to believe there’s any truth to the idea that he’s one of the most knwledgeable men in baseball, as he sometimes doesn’t even seem to understand the game that’s going on at the moment.