4/22/09 – Yomiuri (Away)

April 22nd, 2009

Tokyo Yakult Swallows cap

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 2

Yomiuri Giants 3

Streak: Lost 2   Last 5: WWWLL

(Saga Prefectural Stadium)

Tokyo got the lead early and fought hard to hold on to it, but ultimately failed as an 8th inning Giants rally handed Yakult their second straight loss.

The starting matchup saw Tateyama face off against Utsumi, and while both men had decent outings, both would only walk away with a no-decision to show for their toils.

The Tokyo lineup saw two changes, one usual, as Ihara came in for Guiel to face the lefty starter, and the other not so, as Noguchi replaced Tanaka at second. 

The Swallows got ahead in the top of the 2nd, a solo homer from D’Antonia, his fourth for the season, made it 1-0 Tokyo.

Another Yakult run would come in the top of the 6th. Aikawa got a leadoff single and was brought home from third three men later by a sacfly from Keizo Kawashima to put the birds 2-0 ahead.

Tatayama ran into serious trouble in the bottom of the same inning. Four hits from Yomiuri made it 2-1 and put the Swallows in a bases loaded one out jam. Tateyama managed to escape with out any further damage though as a shallow fly from Abe followed by a groundout to second from Sakamoto ended both the threat and any real chance of Utsumi getting his first win of the 2009 campaign .

Ustumi was sat down after allowing a leadoff single from D’Antona in the top of the 7th. The Giants starter was then seen sobbing on the bench like a little biatch. Bless his cotton socks.

But that was almost the last form of entertainment in the game for Tokyo fans.

Tateyama returned to the mound in the bottom of the 7th and got two quick outs. A Wakiya triple then made Takada move to the bullpen, with lefty Ricky Barrett brought in to face Ogasawara. The Giants thirdbaseman then swung at the first pitch to ground to short and it was job done for Ricky.

A one-out Aikawa single followed by a pinch hit double play from Hatakeyama was all Tokyo could muster in the top of the 8th, before Igarashi took the mound in the bottom of the inning.

A Ramirez single opened the inning before Kamei flew out for out number one. Lee Seung-Yeop then drew a walk, followed by a grounder to first from piggy-faced catcher Abe that left men on the corners with two outs.

Up stepped Sakamoto who had already wasted a great chance in the 6th. This time he delivered hitting a line drive to centre. Aoki made a charge at the ball but didn’t really commit to it, allowing the ball to pass beneath his arm as the tying run came home. The covering rightfielder Ihara then picked up the ball and made a throw to the cutoff-man Noguchi  Morioka at second as the slow running Abe rounded third. Morioka then put a bit too much mustard on the throw to the plate, as it bounced off Aikawa, allowing Abe to score when he should have been out easily. 3-2 Orange fuktards Giants.

In came Kroon for the 9th, and despite walking a man (Kawashima) and allowing that man to steal second, he closed the out game with two strikeouts to cue his highly annoying “I think I’m K-Rod (but really I’m a chump plain and simple)” celebration and it was 3-2 Final.

Tateyama’s numbers for the game were 7 and 2/3 innings pitched, 9 hits, 4 Ks and 1 walk. His ERA is now at 2.077. His record remains at 1-0 for his three starts in 2009.

Igarashi took the loss, his first of the year and now has an ERA of 4.909.

Yakult were outhit 11-5 in the game, the five hits coming from D’Antona (2), Aikawa (2) and Kawashima (1).

Fukuchi ran into the leftfield wall trying to catch a foul ball in the 8th inning. He was on the ground for a good few minutes before being able to resume his position in left with no apparent difficulties. Interestingly, while on the ground, you could clearly see the “CARP” lettering on his glove (the man played many seasons in Hiroshima before joining Seibu in 2006).

Aoki continues to look out of sorts at the plate (0 for 4 today) and in the field (the Aoki of previous seasons would have made a better attempt at that two RBI Sakamoto drive in the 8th).

The two teams now head to Yahoo Dome in Fukuoka for the last game of their tour of Kyushu.

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

  • Rob

    We gave this one away. The outfield gave this one away. Yeah, we only scored two runs (Look! I’m using “we”!), but the Giants should not have scored three. Man….

    Wakiya never even hesitated and he beat Iihara’s throw easily.
    My beef: Why is Iihara in RF? You put your weakest arm in left (think, um, Rami-chan) and your strongest in right. So – assuming Aoki is CF for life – put Iihara in LF and Fukuchi in right. (Not saying Iihara can’t throw, but I think he has the weakest arm of the three OF.)
    I think Guiel would have been able to throw Wakiya out at home and Fukuchi might have – but I don’t think that matters because I don’t think the 3B coach would have sent Wakiya if Guiel or Fukuchi had been in right. With Iihara, it looked like he never thought twice about sending the runner.
    It’s not Iihara’s fault – he fielded the ball cleanly, made a strong throw, and even though he didn’t get the Wakiya at home, the runners weren’t able to take an extra base on the throw. But he shouldn’t be in RF in the first place – put him in LF.

    The two-run double was just perplexing. Igarashi is throwing 150+, but Aoki is playing him to pull? (It was a full count, but still.)
    Then Aoki can’t make up his mind to charge it or take it on a hop – either one would work, and no way they’d send Abe around against Aoki’s arm – but he can’t come up with it. It goes through to Iihara, who did a perfect job backing up the play and he hits the cutoff man (I think Morioka was in for Noguchi), but that gives Abe a little time and now he’s running against Iihara’s arm, not Aoki’s, so they send him. Aikawa can’t handle the throw, Abe stumbles in, TYS is down 2-3 with one inning left.
    It might be tough to pick up the ball in a park you’ve never played in before, out in the sticks, etc., which would explain why maybe you’d have to concede the single – but at least cut off the ball. Ngah.

    D’Antona is doing well. Keizo is still hot – 2 for 3 with a 9th inning walk from Kroon. I didn’t realize Igarashi had his velocity back – that’s a good sign, if he can throw strikes. I’m glad Fukuchi was okay after going into the wall like that.

    Any idea who starts tonight? A good showing from Ichiba would be a nice morale booster. Or save him for Yokohama again?

  • You said it all Rob, all three runs should never have been allowed. It was a highly frustrating game to watch and I had a headache by the end!

    The Aoki play was inexplicable, especially given the centre fielder he used to be. Sure, he’s had a few problems physically this season, but if he can’t charge it then he should have taken it on the hop. His problems seem mental as much as physical in the field, as if he doesn’t have confidence in his play. If nagging aches/injuries are causing him grief he should adjust his style of play accordingly, rather than trying to play how he always has and coming up short.

    No idea of tonight’s starter. Personally I’d start Ishikawa and save Ichiba for Yokohama. I shudder to think what the Yomiuri bats could do to Ichiba.

  • Rob

    Sorry for ranting, Yakulto! My headache is winding down – a win tonight would take care of it altogether.

    It’s sad that unless Aoki is seriously injured, they can’t rest him. He’s so important to the franchise – he’s such a pivotal player on the field, and so many people are coming specifically to see him (and to buy his jerseys, wristbands, etc.), that it’s tough for him to take a night off and tough for Takada to sit him for a night.
    Maybe some road games will be rained out, heh.

  • Gaijin

    Can you explain why the two teams are playing the series at three different stadiums? I am not familiar with the geography in Japan, how close are these stadiums in physical proximity?

  • The three stadiums are all in the northern/north western part of the island of Kyushu and so are not all that far apart.

    The reason for these games is that traditionally, Japanese teams were located in the larger urban centres of Kansai and Kanto so teams play “home” road games in more provincial parts of the country every year to allow more people to watch a game and raise brand awareness/popularity in said areas for the mother companies.

    With the Giants, they used to be by far the most popular team in Japan, thus wherever they went fans would be desperate to go and see them play and past “home” games in Kyushu would be full of locals who were Giants fans. This is not so much the case now as baseball support is more regional in nature these days (with teams spread more evenly around the country) so these games are more likely being watched by general baseball fans rather than legions of Giants fans. Most Kyushu folk these days are Softbank Hawks fans (from my experience).

  • Rob

    Ishikawa it is – nice call, David!