10/1/08 – Hiroshima (Home)

October 1st, 2008

Hiroshima Carp logo Tokyo Yakult Swallows cap

Hiroshima Toyo Carp 3

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 13

Streak: Won 2 Last 5: LLLWW

(Jingu Stadium)

Don’t call it a comeback.

Another hiccup for Hiroshima at the hands of Tokyo as the Swallows put up another big mid-game inning and walked all over the visitors.

Hiroshima scored first off of Tokyo starter, Tateyama, when they squeaked in a run in the top of the second. Tokyo leveled it in the bottom of the third on a solo shot to right by Aoki. 1-1.

Tateyama struck out all three batters he faced to start the fourth, and then it got ugly.

Fukuchi drew a walk to start things off. Then Hatakeyama drew a walk. Then Iihara also drew a walk. And then Kajimoto also got a free trip to first base which resulted in Fukuchi, the go-ahead run, waltzing across home plate.

With the bases still loaded, Tanaka laced a single to left that scored two. Then Kawamoto ripped a double that brought one more run around. Tateyama finally provided the first out by politely giving Hiroshima’s first reliever of the inning, Ueno, his only out (he replaced Saito after those four consecutive walks that started the blood-letting…by the way, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that happen before–at least not by one pitcher). Tokyo’s Norichika Aoki kept it going with a single to left that plated two runners, and Kawashima followed that up with a single to center field. Then Fukuchi drew his second walk of the inning (another thing that I’ve never seen before), and Hatakeyama drew a bases loaded plunking from Hiroshima’s second reliever of the inning, Hayato Aoki (there are two pitchers with the surname Aoki on Hiroshima’s first team. The other Aoki from Hiroshima, second year Takahiro Aoki, pitched the sixth and seventh innings). Iihara and Kajimoto both followed with singles that scored a run each which marked the third and fourth players of the inning to reach base twice.

When Tanaka finally grounded into a double play, the birds had scored nine runs.

A few more runs scored (including two for Hiroshima), but that was largely the end of the excitement. Kawamoto had a two run blast in the bottom of the sixth (his 2nd) and was a single shy of hitting for the cycle. Also with three rbi’s on the evening was leadoff hitter Norichika Aoki who went four-for-five. Fukuchi, Hatakeyama and Iihara all reached base three times during this contest, and Kawashima (two hits) and Kajimoto (1 hit, 1 walk) reached base twice.

This was the second game in a row in which Tokyo was able to assemble a huge inning and put the game away early (bunting not included)–more evidence that Takada should have a little more faith in his players (click on that link to read my rant in the comments section) when it’s a tight game or Tokyo is trailing by a few runs.

Tateyama (3.08 ERA) took the win and his record now stands at 11-3. In five innings he gave up three runs off of five hits with five K’s, one walk, and one beanball.

Oshimoto (3.11) pitched the sixth and seventh innings. He faced seven batters and gave up only one hit.

Matsui (3.52) pitched the eighth and Matsuoka (1.51) had two strikeouts in the ninth. This was Oshimoto’s 63rd, and Matsuoka’s 60th, appearance of the season.

Hiroshima will be hosted at Jingu again tomorrow night starting at 6:20 PM. Tokyo still trails third place Chunichi by six games.

About Christopher Pellegrini

Christopher is a budding sabermetrician and long-time supporter of Tokyo's more lovable team, the Swallows. He has publicly volunteered, several times, that he plans to buy the team at some point in the future. When he finally runs the joint, it is likely that he will fine any player who swings at the first pitch or sac bunts (unless it's a pitcher, of course). Follow him on Twitter: @chrispellegrini

  • John

    Great recap. What a game! What an inning! Wish I could have seen it. This is a great webpage and highly valued by people like me – Swallows fans that no longer live in Tokyo. Keep up the good work.

  • Not that we’re the Japanese version of Tampa Bay (successful, young team), but the vast majority of tonight’s starters are 25-26 years of age (Aoki, Kawashima, Hatakeyama, Iihara, Kajimoto, Tanaka and Kawamoto), and our starting pitcher, Tateyama, is 27. Only veteran right fielder, Fukuchi, is over 30 (he turns 33 in December).

    My point is: if the team gels under a coach that wants to win (Takada could always mend his ways…), then we’ll be vying for the lead in the Central in two year’s time. That should give our non-metro residing readers even more of a reason to check in.

    Thanks for reading, John!

  • Awwwww, what happened to Red Handkerchief Boy? I actually want to be a big Saitoh Yuki fan (the Carp one that is). He’s adorable, left-handed, has a great sense of humor about his name, and is a decent pitcher, but man, that sounds like a total case of Steve Blass disease tonight.

    I was checking in on the Fighters game on my cellphone from time to time during work tonight but I didn’t see the other results until afterwards, and there was a lot more TV time given to Kiyohara in the highlights, so…

  • Rob

    I’m not a big Takada defender. After a year or so, I still don’t have much of an impression of what he’s done aside from having guys run more often and changing the lineup regularly. But Furuta really frustrated me, so I’m not completely down on Takada yet.

    The “not playing to win” theme could be on target. Takada’s whole approach to 2008 could be that this year is just a year-long exhibition season. He’s in his first year. The team finished last last year. They lost their best pitcher and one of their best offensive players. Expectations are low.

    I think the perception is that any progress is acceptable (and Yokohama has made this easy to deliver), and that he has a year to mess around. He can see what he’s got, who can play where (are Kawashima and Ihara OF or IF?), who can hit in the clutch, who can catch, and so on. This is may also be why Watarai and Manaka have disappeared completely – are they still with the team? They could be useful role players on a team in contention, but they have no role with a team focused on setting up for next season.

  • I like that Takada has moved younger players into more playing time, but not that he hasn’t let many of them get used to any particular role.

    Last year, Tokyo finished 20.5 games out at .417 – I’m not sure how much real improvement this year shows. Takada is performing just as his record with Nippon Ham would have us predict.

    Whatever he does, the fact remains that his handling of game-day strategy is so based on gut feeling, and demonstrates such extreme strategical incompetence that it appears he’s not trying to win.

    The Swallows are only one run behind their opponents, aggregate, which shows that they’re winning by larger margins than they’re losing. Anecdotally, a lot of games have been lost due to astoundingly stupid decisions – having hitters with averages over .300 bunt with an out and a not particularly fleet-footed runner on first when the team is down.

    Now, Takada has probably done such things out of abject incompetence, rather than a will to lose, but the end result is the same for a manager. He has to go.

  • Rob

    That’s the worst part. If he’s taking a year out of everyone’s lives and careers to create a substantially stronger team next year that’s one thing. But if he’s wasting a year now only to repeat the results he got with the Fighters – why bother?

    The upside is that it may be tough for them to raise ticket prices next season!

  • Rob

    Oops – Watarai and Manaka WILL disappear completely – they’ll retire at the end of this season. Should have checked before I posted.

  • Aaah Watarai.

    I’ve never seen him not smiling. Never has a man appeared so happy to be a career bit-part player. Strikes out – smiles. Sits on the bench for the 32nd straight game – smiles. Makes a throwing error in the field – smiles.

    Funnily enough we’ve been told that his whole family is exactly the same – permanently smiling. Creepy stuff………

    Got to admire the mans positivity though.

  • I made a Friday Foto in honor of Watarai.

    I remember thinking at the time that it was weird to see uniform numbers 1-2-3-4 walking together. Even now, I have trouble thinking of a team where it’s likely to happen naturally.

    I saw him and Manaka a bit at ni-gun this year, though… it’s probably good that they’re retiring to make way for the younger players to get more time, but a little sad.

  • Deanna,
    Great photo!

    I agree that it’s good to see the younger guys getting some more PT at the top level.

    Watarai is a good guy, but he’s never really been a big contributor during the five seasons that I’ve been sitting in the bleachers.

    I kind of expected to see Manaka pinch-hit a bit more this season, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see him in a coach’s uniform next season (with Tokyo).

    Anyway, thanks for the link to your photo!