10/06/08 – Hanshin (Home)

October 6th, 2008

Sanshin TigersTokyo Yakult Swallows cap

Hanshin Tigers 1

Tokyo Swallows 3

Streak: Won 1 Last 5: LWDLW

(Jingu Stadium)

Tokyo continued to be an irritant to the Tigers as they frustrated Hanshin in their final meeting of the season, a solid start from Ishikawa backed up by the bullpen was enough to see the Swallows prevail.

Ishikawa pitched 6 innings, giving up just the one run off five hits and striking out three.

Yakult took the lead in the bottom of the 1st off Hanshin starter Resop.  A Keizo Kawashima single was followed by an Aoki double, with Keizo just beating the tag in a close play at home.  After next man up Hatakeyama reached first on an error, Ihara pushed one through the gap between third and short to bring home Aoki to make it 0-2 Yakult.

A solo blast from Kanemoto in the top of the 4th made it 1-2 before the two run lead was restored in the bottom of the inning.

Tanaka singled to start the inning.  Then during next man Kawabata’s at-bat, pitcher Resop threw what he though was strike three, but as the batter headed back to the dugout it was called a balk which moved Tanaka to second, and kept Kawabata alive.  This proved to be key, as Kawabata then hit a single to put runners on the corners with no outs.  Kawamoto struck out which brought up pitcher Ishikawa.  Ishikawa hit a groundout to first but it was enough to score Tanaka from third to make it 1-3.

In the top of the 5th, a hit and a Keizo error put runners on the corners with two outs, but Arai struck out to end the threat.

Matsuoka came in for his 62nd appearance of the year in a scoreless 7th, lowering his ERA to 1.442.

Igarashi pitched the 8th, and an rare Aoki fielding error turned a Kanemoto single into a double, but he didn’t allow another sniff and kept the lead at two.  His ERA is now 2.531.

And so to the 9th and Lim, who had given up three runs the night before. But tonight he made it look easy, a groundout, flyout and strikeout giving him a 1-2-3 inning and his 31st save of the year.  Lim’s ERA is now 3.122.

Ishikawa took the win, leaving his record at 12 wins and 10 losses.  His ERA of 2.682 is second lowest in the Central League, behind Hiroshima’s Lewis who is on 2.679.

With the season series now over between the two teams,  Hanshin took it with 13 wins to Tokyo’s 10 with 1 tie.

The Swallows now close out their season with Chunichi on Tuesday, Yokohama on Wednesday, a day off Thursday before taking on the Giants Friday and Saturday.  Tokyo’s final game is against the Yokohama BayStars on Sunday.

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

  • Christopher Amano-Langtree

    Ishikawa was shaky in the fourth and fifth but Tigers batting didn’t have enough to exploit this. Imaoka’s two base hit in the fourth could have been the precursor to a big innings but Ishikawa was able to hold on.

  • That’s why he has the ERA he does, because more often than not (this year at least), he gets the job done.

  • Christopher Amano-Langtree

    He hasn’t been too good against Tigers. If I recall correctly he won his first and last games but in between suffered.

  • Well Christopher, lets looks at the games he’s pitched this year against the Tigers:

    4/29 – Win, 1 Run, 8 Innings
    5/17 – Loss, 3 Runs, 7 Innings
    6/28 – Loss, 3 Runs, 6 Innings
    7/17 – Win, 0 Runs, 8 innings
    7/29 – Loss, 4 Runs, 5 Innings
    8/25 – Loss, 2 Runs, 7 Innings
    9/11 – N.D., 2 Runs, 7 Innings
    10/6 – Win, 1 Run, 6 Innings

    So that’s 3 Wins, 4 Losses and 1 No Decision in 8 starts. So yes, he’s lost more than he’s won.

    But 7 out of the 8 starts would be defined as “Quality Starts” (6 innings, 3 or fewer earned runs) and he simply didn’t get the run support he needed. Only the July 29th game could be described as bad, and even then he lasted 5 innings.

    So your assertion that “He hasn’t been too good against the Tigers” is, I’m afraid, incorrect.

    The man has been a rock this year and ERAs don’t lie. His is 2.682, because as I said before, more often than not, he gets the job done.

  • Christopher Amano-Langtree

    I would discount the ‘quality starts’ stat. It doesn’t actually prove anything. We looked at it in respect to the Tigers but it produced really misleading results. No he’s lost four games against the Tigers and the ND he failed to hold a 2 run lead. Quality starts is all very well but the end result is what matters.

    This is not to say that Ishikawa has done badly – just that he hasn’t done well against the Tigers. A quality start is no good if you lose the game. Not getting the run support needed is the bane of all pitchers.

    What I find interesting is that the Swallows produce these fine individual performers, Ishikawa, Aoki and in the past Ramirez and Greisinger but seem to end up at the bottom.

  • OK, I’ll discount a universally used way to measure a starter’s effectiveness, because it produced misleading results according to you.

    It doesn’t really change the fact that he didn’t do too badly against the Tigers contrary to what you say.

    And the 2 run lead in the ND was blown by Lim. When Ishikawa left the game he had a 4-2 lead.

    It is the result that matters, but the least a starter can do is to keep his team in the game by restricting the number of runs he gives up (hence the quality start stat). Ishikawa, does this, and has done this against the Tigers this year. He’s regularly gone at least 7 innings in the game and kept his team in with a chance, but the bats didn’t come through for him for whatever reason.

    Look at that list of performances again.

  • …just that he hasn’t done well against the Tigers.

    Only three pitchers in the league (Greisinger, Utsumi and Miura) have better records than Ishikawa versus the Tigers. Those three guys have four wins (more than half of Miura’s wins have been against Hanshin). Ishikawa and Kisanuki both have three wins.

    Ishikawa’s in pretty decent company there.

    Furthermore, Ishikawa’s ERA over his 54 innings versus Hanshin is 2.50.

    For comparison: his ERA on the season is 2.68 (good enough for number two in the Central).

    Despite his 3-4 record, all records indicate that he pitched quite well versus Hanshin this season.

  • What I find interesting is that the Swallows produce these fine individual performers, Ishikawa, Aoki and in the past Ramirez and Greisinger but seem to end up at the bottom.

    Thanks for gloating.

    I’m pretty sure that you already know why this is, but I’ll briefly explain:

    Not being willing to spend money to keep good players around, plus a manager that has no idea what day it is, will lead most teams toward the bottom half of the league.

    Now what I find interesting is how Hanshin can have one of the most expensive and successful teams in the league for several years running (since 2003), but not bring home the championship. (hey, taking cheap shots on the Internet is fun!)

  • Christopher Amano-Langtree

    Please don’t think I’m gloating (we blew a 13 game lead over our main rivals – no room for gloating there) – I consider this an interesting phenomenan as Swallows should do better with the talent they seem to find. When I think of the Tigers foreign imports I cringe and cast an envious eye over to your lineup. Shane Spencer anyone?

    Utsumi is interesting – he often pitches poorly against the Tigers but always manages to win. Miura is the only one who actually dominates most of the time. Ishikawa despite his ERA isn’t really comparable. Tigers have beaten him four times this season and should have beaten him a fifth time. This time they failed to give their pitcher run support.

    With regard to the ND there were two two run leads which were blown, Ishikawa who failed to hold a two run lead in the first and Lim who blew the second lead.

    The problem with quality starts is that they are an average which don’t really take account of actual game conditions. In a tight game a quality start is actually zero or only one run not three runs. If your opposition is also having a ‘quality start’ then you need to be better. This is what is so misleading about stats – they are only as good as the interpretation you put on them and if that is flawed then it’s actually misleading.

  • So the gist of all that is that a starter should be judged by the bats on his team, the relief that follows him, and the other team’s pitching, not by his own performance insofar as it can be isolated.

    While stats are open to interpretation, they tend to cut through the fog of a game and eliminate subjective assessment rather than fail to accurately describe what happened. Stats, in baseball, have proven a pretty good way of not only assessing past performance, but predicting broad trends in future performance as well. Granted, pitching stats are still tricky as the depend so much on what happens after the ball leave the pitcher’s hand, and not all stats are created equal (give me OBP over BA any day) but the quality start is a rather good stat in that it does a fair job of isolating what happened while a pitcher was on the mound.

    I gotta tell you, man, it sounds like you’re unhappy with the stats failing to bear out your subjective impression, which is entirely different from the stat being misleading. If you were managing Tokyo and had Ishikawa rested coming into a game with Hanshin, would you swap him out for a different starter?

    Ishikawa hasn’t been as successful as Utsumi, Miura, or Greisinger against the Tigers (which is exactly what Pellegrini pointed out), but he’s done better than any other CL starter except for those three, which is not too shabby.

    Look at it this way, Ishikawa can be held responsible for 30% of Tokyo’s wins against Hanshin this season and 30.7% of the losses. Not amazing, but not too shabby considering how much better Hanshin did overall.

  • I gotta tell you, man, it sounds like you’re unhappy with the stats failing to bear out your subjective impression, which is entirely different from the stat being misleading.

    Nail. Hit. Head.

  • Christopher Amano-Langtree

    Here you hit on an essential point but their needs to be a strong reservation. Stats are good for predicting broad trends in the future. But even here we have to be careful. Let me put it another way – how do you measure a match winner? Those rare players who can turn match with a hit. How do you identify them with stats?

    Stats can give an indication but that is all – they obscure the random factor in all games. This is what makes them unreliable. A quality start is actually not a good stat at all because it ignores the whole team. Furthermore, it also ignores the conditions of a very tight game – a 1-0 victory for example with the run scored in the first six innings. That was a quality start by the stat but the team actually lost. Judged by that measure it isn’t a quality start at all. A defeat is a defeat.

    By reducing everything to a measurement you actually miss a lot. You also blind yourself to results and these in the final analysis are what are needed. In response to your question about pitching Ishikawa against Hanshin the answer is of course I would. There is always the chance – as in the Monday game – that he gets lucky and the opposition batting fails to perform against him. Or that he has a good game (another thing stats don’t show – when a pitcher is good or when he is bad) as with his second victory against Hanshin.

  • If a “match player” is really a match player – consistently responsible for turning games with key hits – that would very clearly show up on scorecards. It’s not hard to see when a rally starts. Is there a specific stat for that that’s commonly listed and tracked? No, and the reason is that it doesn’t tell you much. There are players who get more key hits than others, but it sounds like what you’re talking about might be what is more commonly called a “clutch hitter”, something that stats show doesn’t really exist in any meaningful way. Instead, the clutch hitter is precisely the type of subjective impression I was talking about above. Try it, keep track of clutch hits and you’ll see that it’s selective memory supporting a reputation more than an actual on-field accomplishment, much less a particular skill set. After all, sayonara home runs aside, when does an individual hit in isolation win a game?

    I don’t even know what that second paragraph is supposed to mean. Are you changing your original contention? The whole point of the quality start is to measure the situation of the game in the time that the starter was in. The end result of the game is absolutely irrelevant to the stat.

    No one is saying any stat is more important than winning games, but it is entirely possible, even common, for a player to do well in a loss.

    All of this is beside the point, though, as your original point was that Ishikawa has not done well against the Tigers this year, which is simply not the case.

  • A quality start is actually not a good stat at all because it ignores the whole team. Furthermore, it also ignores the conditions of a very tight game – a 1-0 victory for example with the run scored in the first six innings. That was a quality start by the stat but the team actually lost. Judged by that measure it isn’t a quality start at all. A defeat is a defeat.

    Man, where do I begin. All a starting pitcher can do is to put his team in a position to have a chance to win a game, which he does by going as deep into the game and giving up as few runs as possible. A 1-0 loss would be a quality start because he gave his team a chance to win the game by only giving up a run. Why do you think a sub-3.00 ERA is considered excellent? Pitching is a tough job.

    It’s not a science and yes there are a lot of random elements – baseball more than perhaps any other sport is based on highly random/lucky events. Elements which the pitcher cannot control, he can’t control how his batters fare, the opposition’s pitching performance, the bullpens performance etc. etc. The quality start stat doesn’t focus on the result but the pitchers peformance in isolation (as best as can be done). Isolation is the key word here.

    And how can you say with such certainty that he “got lucky” on Monday? You speak with such certainty (some might say arrogance) with everything you say, yet at the same time everything you say makes me believe your view of the game is seriously skewed (and that’s putting it politely).

  • Christopher Amano-Langtree

    Losing more against Hanshin than you win isn’t a good performance. This is the point about stats. They have been introduced to say ‘well, actually Ishikawa did quite well against Hanshin’. But he lost more than he won which tends to suggest the opposite. The result is the important thing and the fact that Ishikawa has handed over 5 poor situations as against 3 good ones (loses and NDs against wins) shows that Hanshin had the better of him.

    Miura didn’t do well overall for the season but against Hanshin he did well. Vice versa Ishikawa did well for the season but against Hanshin didn’t do well.

    A match winner doesn’t show up in stats because sparking a win isn’t necessarily about scoring. He could show up in game records but you need to examine them carefully. An individual hit can revitalise a team – suddenly they feel that they have a chance.

  • Did you not read anything from above?

    And you are lumping in the ND where he left the game with a 4-2 lead in with the losses?

    Yes, the stats were introduced to say that “well, actually Ishikawa did quite well against Hanshin” because, by number of conventional indicators, that is the case.

    In your mind it is not, and evidently that cannot be swayed. So I really see no further need to argue this case. I’m done with this buffoonery.

  • Christopher, why is the quality start a misleading stat, but Wins and Losses, as awarded to a pitcher, the gold standard of “results”? There are extraneous factors that could influence a game in either situation, but most of those are beyond a pitcher’s control. Other than no-hitters or perfect games, I’d say a quality start is a better indication of a starting pitcher’s performance by itself than a win is.

  • Christopher Amano-Langtree

    Sorry – I realised after the post that to include the ND was wrong.

    A quality start is a misleading stat when the opposition pitcher is also pitching well. Wins and losses are basic but are simple but actually show the results and isn’t sports based on results. Today Shimoyanagi had what the stats would show as a quality start. He blew a three run lead even though it was a different pitcher who actually gave up the relevant runs. A quality start – I’m afraid not. We need to get away from some of the rubbish that the official stats show and look at the game as it actually is. Remember in a tight game a quality start is zero runs not three.

  • Ken

    A quality start is a misleading stat when the opposition pitcher is also pitching well.

    The entire point of the quality start is to factor out the performance of the other pitcher and the win-loss record of the pitcher who is being evaluated.

    It’s sort of like a control group concept.

  • Christopher Amano-Langtree

    We’re not going to agree – once again many thanks for putting up with a Tigers fan (on a Swallows site) and for listening.