5/03/09 – Hiroshima (Away)

May 3rd, 2009

Hiroshima Carp logoTokyo Yakult Swallows cap

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 3

Hiroshima Toyo Carp 2

Streak: Won 1    Last 5: WWWLW

(Mazda Stadium)


An 8th inning Aoki tie-breaking solo home run and a decent outing from surprise starter Takaichi lead Yakult to a tight victory on Sunday afternoon.

Takada continued his experiments with the starting rotation as he brought in 25 year old Shun Takaichi to start on the mound for the birds. Takaichi had made just three appearences for the top team in his two years with the team, pitching nine innings to the tune of an 8.00 ERA. This year he’s pitched 25 innings in 5 appearances for the farm team with an ERA of 4.32, and has averaged a strikeout per inning so far this season.

Takaichi wasn’t involved in the final decision, but did well, pitching 6 innings, giving up two runs (both of which came from a Kenta Kurihara homerun) off four hits with four strikeouts and a walk.

Today’s lineup saw Ihara replacing Guiel in rightfield, Hatakeyama starting at third with Miyamoto moving to his traditional shortstop role .

Chances were at a premium early on, and the stalemate wasn’t broken until the bottom of the 4th inning, with an Amaya single followed up by the Kurihara homer to left putting the Carp ahead, 2-0 Hiroshima.

But Tokyo would strike back against Hiroshima starter Aoki in the top of the 6th. Hiroyasu Tanaka singled to start the inning and was moved along by a Takaichi sacbunt for the first out. A Fukuchi groundout moved the runner along to put a man on third with two outs. Next man up Miyamoto hit a grounder to second but just beat the Higashide throw to first and the run scored making it 2-1 Hiroshima. Norichika Aoki then tried a suprise safety bunt which caught the third baseman Seabol by suprise and it was men on first and second with two outs. Up stepped D’Antona, who hit one deep to the right outfield corner, Miyamoto scored from second, and Aoki was thrown out at the plate to end the inning but things were tied up at 2-2.

Takaichi pitched one more hitless inning before Kida came in to pitch a hitless 7th.

And so to the 8th inning. Aoki came to the plate with one out to face Carp reliever Yokoyama, and he launched one about two metres over the rightfield wall and the Swallows had their first lead of the game at 3-2 Tokyo.

Igarashi got through the 8th in relief, despite giving up a single and a walk, striking out Kurihara with two outs to end the inning.

And so to the top of the 9th and Lim took the mound still having yet to give up a run this year. Two flyball outs and a strikeout gave the Korean his 7th save of the season, maintaining his 0.00 ERA and wrapping things up for a  3-2 Final.

Kida took the win, his second in relief this week to put his record at 3 and 2 with a 5.40 ERA.

Aoki seems to have been woken up by last weeks beanball, as he went 2 for 4 with his homer. And he looked a lot more like his old self in the field too with a great sliding catch of a Kurihara flyball in the 5th looking more like the Aoki we know.

The two teams return tomorrow afternoon for the final game of the series, before Yakult return to Jingu for their first home series of the year with the Hanshin Tigers from Tuesday.

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