4/8/09 – Chunichi (Home)

April 8th, 2009

Tokyo Yakult Swallows cap

Chunichi Dragons 4

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 8

Streak: Won 1    Last 5: LWWLW
(Jingu Stadium)

After yesterday’s game, we’d seen the 2009 Tokyo starting rotation begin to take shape. Ishikawa, Yoshinori, Kawashima and Tateyama made up the first four spots. So tonight saw the initial No.5 slot taken up by a quite unlikely candidate. Eleven years after his last starting role, 40 year old journeyman Masao Kida, a man who many (possibly including himself) thought would not still be with the organisation this year, took the mound at Jingu to start against the Dragons.

And after overcoming a rocky 1st inning (5 hits, including a Morino 3RHR for 3-0 Chunichi)  Kida showed the heart for which he has become known,  allowing only one more hit over the next four innings to put him in line for a win to commemorate his remarkable start.

Yakult started to chip away at the early Chunichi lead in the 2nd inning. Guiel got on base with a double, Miyamoto then singled and a throwing error from center fielder Fuji allowed Guiel to score to make it 3-1 Chunichi.

Another run came in the 3rd, D’Antona displaying good plate discipline swinging only once after working the count full to single and bring home Kawashima. 3-2 Chunichi.

And the Swallows would blow the doors off in the bottom of the 5th. Ten men came to the plate to the sum of  five hits, two walks and four runs scored, the big damage done by a 2RBI double from Guiel and a 2RBI single from Aikawa. 6-3 Tokyo.

After Matsuoka relieved Kida to pitch a one hit scoreless top of the 6th, Yakult would make sure of their victory in the bottom of the same inning.  Solo homers from Aoki (his first of the year) and Guiel (second of 2009) made it 8-3 Tokyo.

Igarashi then pitched another one hit scoreless inning in the top of the 7th. Next man in relief Oshimoto gave up a run on a solo homer to new Dragons firstbaseman Tony Blanco in the 8th to make it 8-4 but that was a close as they would get with Lim shutting things down in the 9th to make it 8-4 Final.

Guiel and Kida made up the after game hero interview. Guiel commented that he was just taking it a game at a time as he was trying to overcome his poor 2008 to prove himself to his teammates, manager and fans. Kida mused on why he was selected for the hero interview, as he didn’t think he’d been all that, modestly not dwelling on the significance of his start and victory.

Other points of note:

Aoki went 2 for 5 with his homer, showing signs that the post WBC rust is starting to wear off. He’s now hitting .227.

Guiel went 3 for 4 with two doubles and a HR to the tune of 3 RBIs. He’s now at .286 on the year.

Miyamoto continued his good start to 2009 with a 2 for 3 performance with a walk to take him to .389.

D’Antona’s one timely hit took his average down to .429.

Leaving the game after 4 and 2/3 innings of 6 run (5 earned) baseball, Chunichi starter Nakata had a bit of a hissy fit after returning to the bench, pounding the walls with his glove. Makes a change from me having one anyway.

The two teams meet again tomorrow evening for the last game of the series, on what promises to be another beautiful spring evening at Jingu Stadium.

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

  • What a game!! Too bad I was wandering around the renovated food stands behind centre field right when Aoki and Guiel both went yard. Will likely go to Seibu tomorrow, so I’ll see you guys at Jingu.. likely next week?

  • Oh, Takada managed to frustrate me in just one game that I’ve seen the team in person this season. He’s an automatically bunting automaton. Hello? This ain’t high school baseball. I know that bunting is culturally ingrained in Japanese baseball, and Hillman used it successfully when he won the Japan Series with the Fighters. But c’mon, bunting early in the game when you could get a big inning? Unsuccessful bunts like 0 outs runners on 1st and 2nd becoming 1 out runners still on 1st and 2nd. Yeah, that was great guys. If the players were perfect bunters and bunt players, this wouldn’t happen. But would you want them practicing bunt plays so much that that’s their best skill?

  • Bottles are still 450 yen each. Sorry I missed you at the game, Simon. I was in my usual seat.

    He’s toned down the stealing a little bit, so that’s a relief. At the beginning of last year he was sending guys on every other pitch it seemed. However, bunting may be too ingrained a habit to break for Mr. Takada.

  • Oh, you were at the game? I should’ve gotten your contact from Garrett. I sat at the back of section D (that’s your section, no?) for the first couple of innings, then sort of moved around the free seating area to get different views.

  • Huh? Really? We must have been right next to each other. Weird.

  • Oh, Takada managed to frustrate me in just one game that I’ve seen the team in person this season.

    Well times that by tens of games in a season and you can begin to understand the sheer depth of our pain!

  • N26

    A good win for the Swallows. It was Kida´s first start since 1998 in Japan when he was then playing for Orix.

  • I was at the Tokyo Dome the last two nights for Fighters games, so all I heard of this game was when one of my Dragons friends sent me an email of “Dragons lost but your boyfriend got one of his signature 3-run homers”, and I was like “…I’m at the Fighters game and our Inaba just hit his THIRD homer of the night!”

    Or, you could say, your former Inaba… we actually did a “Kamisama, Hotokesama, Inabasama” cheer after the game.

    Anyway, I will definitely go to at least one of the Swallows-Giants games next week, maybe more — can I get contact info for you guys before then so I don’t just go up to the top of section D and yell “KUTABARE YOMIURI” really loudly and see if any other gaijin are around? Hopefully Simon can also show up… it’s always a good night for Giants-hating. Will it sell out or be crowded, though?

  • There should be a healthy crowd there, but it won’t sell out because it’s a weekday series. If you arrive by 5:00/5:15, then you should be fine.

    I didn’t realize that the Fighters-Lotte game was at the egg! That explains why everything kept going over the wall. I caught the tail end of the third one on TV late last night and thought something looked strange (especially considering how lightly he hit it). “That doesn’t look like Sapporo Dome…that ball never would have left the park in Sapporo” is what I was saying to nobody in particular.

    Nothing against Inaba, but they must have increased the size of the rubber core in the balls used at TD because I’ve seen a bunch of half-swings result in home runs over there already this season.

  • N26

    I envy you guys who get to see live games. And thankful for the game reports. This ables me to be somehow updated on my passion. Japanese pro yakyu.

    anti Giants calls.

    ?????????? oretachi kyojin ga daikirai!
    ???????????? tokyo dome ha kondomu!
    ???????? yomiuri shinbun benjo gami!

    Jingu had 15,000 people last night which is rather low for Swallows, I think they average somewhere around 20,000. I think somewhere around 20,000 to 25,000 maybe against Giants? If Yokohama is an indication, Yokohama drew 16,000 last night against Giants but then again Yokohama is sucking really badly too. The right field bleacher was half empty which was depressing to see.

    Giants does not have the same popularity as it once used to. 10 to 20 years ago whenever Giants played the stadiums would be completely packed where ever they played but thats not the case any more.

    One thing I do not like about Jingu is that drums are banned. I don´t see the point. Why can´t they use drums just like any other stadium? Apart from that though, Jingu is one of my favorite stadiums. It´s an excellent ball park.

  • Yes, cheering against Gomiuri! That’s one cause that we can all get behind!