4/9/09 – Chunichi (Home)

April 8th, 2009

Tokyo Yakult Swallows cap

Chunichi Dragons 7

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 10

Streak: Won 2    Last 5: WWLWW

(Jingu Stadium)

Ishikawa got the win tonight, but he showed once again that he is vulnerable to the occasional bad inning. Tonight it happened twice.

For the second night in a row, the Dragons got off to a hot start. Three runners crossed home plate and the Swallows were again playing catch-up from the get-go. However, consecutive hits by Aoki, Guiel and Iihara resulted in two runs for the home team in the bottom of that inning. 3-2 Chunichi.

The Swallows strung three more hits together in the bottom of the second with Aikawa, Ishikawa and Fukuchi working together to tie the game up. 3-3.

The game was pretty uneventful until the bottom of the fifth when the wheels fell completely off for Chunichi.

Keizo Kawashima beats the throw at home plate.

Keizo Kawashima beats the throw at home plate.

Tokyo started the inning with six consecutive hits, and by the end of the inning had amassed six runs. Fukuchi, K. Kawashima, Aoki, Guiel, Iihara, Miyamoto and Takeuchi all had an rbi in that inning. The only batter who didn’t reach base was Ishikawa. 9-3 Tokyo.

Chunichi managed to keep things close by scoring four more runs by the end of the game. They got three in the sixth to bookend Ishikawa’s start with three-run innings, and a final run in the seventh off of Morino’s third double of the evening. 9-7 Tokyo.

Guiel closed the scoring in the bottom of the eighth with his second solo homer in as many evenings. 10-7 Tokyo.

Matsuoka, Hagiwara, Igarashi and Lim also made mound appearances. Lim (0.00 ERA) got his second save of the season in his fourth appearance.

Ishikawa (9.90) threw 88 pitches in his six innings of work to even his record at 1-1. He gave up six earned runs off of nine hits (two home runs) and struck out three.

On offense the Swallows again outhit their opponents. Guiel (3 rbi’s) and Iihara both reached base three times. Fukuchi, K. Kawashima, Aoki, Miyamoto, Takeuchi and Aikawa all got on base twice.

Starting lineup:

1. Fukuchi (1B)
2. K. Kawashima (SS)
3. Aoki (CF)
4. Guiel (RF)
5. Iihara (LF)
6. Miyamoto (3B)
7. Tanaka (2B)
8. Aikawa (C)
9. Ishikawa (P)

Notes:
Not quite sure why D’Antona didn’t start this game. Hopefully the cool weather hasn’t caused him to pull a hamstring or anything. Hay fever, maybe?

Tanaka got yanked early again tonight. Takeuchi was called in to take Tanaka’s place in the middle of that gargantuan rally that took place in the fifth. Again, not quite sure why that has happened two nights in a row. Tanaka hasn’t been putting up career numbers or anything, but maybe he’d be able to get into a groove if Takada quit asking him to bunt all the time.

Either way, the competition (in the form of Morioka and Takeuchi) can only be a good thing in the long run. If that’s the reason why Takada keeps sitting him early, then I would have to admit that it might be a good ploy. There are several guys on the bench right now (Takeuchi, Iihara, Morioka, Noguchi, Hatakeyama, Kawabata, Kajimoto, and Yuuichi) who deserve a little playing time.

However, it is weird to see Beavis getting the foreign slugger treatment. If anyone knows why this is happening, please chime in.

Keizo Kawashima, apart from hitting two home runs already this season, hasn’t been much of a factor at the plate. He’s hitting .174 and his OBP is .286. Is the Hokkaido connection safeguarding his slot in the lineup (whereas Tanaka seems to be on a short leash)? Fukuchi is also off to a slow start (.192/.276/.231).

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

  • Ishikawa had a torrid start again, though he was not helped by some suspect fielding in left. He did settle down, until the 6th (as an aside, what has got into Fujii? 3 career HRs before this season, and he’s already hit 4 this year!). His form is a concern, but he is experienced enough not to let this bad start affect him and I expect him to improve.

    No one seemed to know why Tanaka was yanked again. We were pondering as to the reason why when Takeuchi poked one through the middle to keep the rally going and we stopped worrying about it!

    The depth on the bench this year is much greater than last. We are now able to call on guys that were decent performing regulars last year (Ihara, Hatakeyama) as well as the promising younger/regular backup guys (Takeuchi, Morioka, Noguchi). It is very encouraging.

    And as you say Chris, Kawashima and Fukuchi are the only two guys to not click so far this year. That’s better than the more normal 5 or 6!

    But overall, six games in, it’s been a bright start. The team are playing with good spirit.

    Now to Yokohama to face the woeful Baystars. But as anyone that’s watched the Swallows regularly knows, victory is by no means guaranteed……

  • Rob

    I think the TV guys said D’Antona’s knee was bothering him, but it must not be too serious if he was still in the dugout.
    Iihara in LF completely lost a fly ball in the first – like, from the moment the ball left the bat.
    Fukuchi was playing 1F with his OF glove instead of a mitt. Wow.

    Why is Kawashima in the lineup and why is he having trouble at the plate? The answer to both questions: Africa. Lame fight song = poor plate performance (Bill James has studied this extensively). But Takada is a Toto fan, and Kawashima shrewdly chose his song knowing Takada would enjoy hearing Africa four times a night. Watch for other Swallows to pick up on this, with Noguchi changing to Rosanna, or Takai having Hold The Line played when he warms up.

    Is this the new Chunichi? Defensive lapses? Can’t hold a lead? But Fujii has been on fire, and Nomoto looks great for a rookie.

    Another hero interview for Guiel – good for him!

  • Why is Kawashima in the lineup and why is he having trouble at the plate? The answer to both questions: Africa. Lame fight song = poor plate performance (Bill James has studied this extensively). But Takada is a Toto fan, and Kawashima shrewdly chose his song knowing Takada would enjoy hearing Africa four times a night. Watch for other Swallows to pick up on this, with Noguchi changing to Rosanna, or Takai having Hold The Line played when he warms up.

    Genius! The only feasible explanation has been found.

  • Agreed on bench depth. Morioka played in maybe five games last year and he’s gotten into the last two already.

    Hopefully D’Antona’s back in the lineup this weekend.

  • Who else is available at SS, other than the ever fading captain?

  • Who else is available at SS, other than the ever fading captain?

    Noguchi perhaps (or *shudder* Shiroishi).

  • Shiroishi is a secret weapon, which is why the Swallows continue to make him a millionaire (in any currency you like.) If he doesn’t eventually become one of the greatest coaches of all time, his entire career will have been one of the biggest exercises in open pork-lading in recent NPB history.

  • I guess Tanaka was sent down not only because the manager wanted to make other players experienced, but also because he made a blunder in a hit-and-run play, but, at the same time, I guess Takada admits he is the best second baseman.
    Noguchi has been a scatter arm after his arm surgery. I hope he’s getting better.

    Keizo has great potential abilities, and maybe Takada thinks that now is the time to develop them.
    Also, he is very astute and can cross the plate without a hit–for example, a walk, a stolen base, and the opponents’ mishap.

    Kawabata had destroyed his arm during the spring camp, and then his lower-back, but recovered and came up as a DH on Sunday in the farm game.

    BTW, Shiroishi hit long balls and clutch hits in the farm games these days, so don’t be disappointed if he’s back in Ichigun(though I think it’s not very probable).

  • …he made a blunder in a hit-and-run play

    Ah, you’re talking about the play where Miyamoto got thrown out at second by a mile and a half, right? I thought it might have been related to that. I wasn’t sure if that was supposed to be a sac bunt or not. Tanaka got his signals mixed up and didn’t swing, huh?

  • Who else is available at SS, other than the ever fading captain?

    Morioka also made a brief appearance at short last night.

  • Takada definitely likes youth and to mix things up. Morioka played about as much for Chunichi last year as Watarai played for Tokyo, but is certainly getting a lot more chances now, having almost surpassed his totals for last year already.