5/17/09 – Hanshin (Home)

May 17th, 2009

Sanshin TigersTokyo Yakult Swallows cap

Hanshin Tigers 1

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 2

Streak: Won 5     Last 5:  WWWWW

(Jingu Stadium)

Another long outing from a Tokyo starter, this time Ryo Kawashima, along with a 7th inning timely Hiroyasu Tanaka hit gave Yakult their first five game winning streak of the season, and put them in a strong position heading into the Interleague schedule.

Kawashima went seven innings, giving up just the one run off five hits, striking out four and walking two.

Tonight’s starting lineup a was as follows:

  1. Kawashima Keizo (SS)
  2. Noguchi (LF)
  3. Aoki (CF)
  4. D’Antona (1B)
  5. Ihara (RF)
  6. Miyamoto (3B)
  7. Aikawa (C)
  8. Tanaka (2B)
  9. Kawashima Ryo (P)

Despite walking two in a shaky top of the 1st, Kawashima Ryo managed to put up a zero on the board for Hanshin.

The Swallows then took the lead in the bottom of the 1st, against Hanshin starter Kojima, a pitcher who hadn’t been used as a starter for two years. Kawashima Keizo worked a walk to leadoff the inning. Noguchi grounded out and then Aoki singled to put men on the corners with one out. During next man D’Antona’s at bat, a Kojima pitch went high and inside and it was missed by the catcher Shimizu, and the ball flew to the backstop. It was ruled a passed ball and allowed Keizo to score from third and make it 1-0 Tokyo.

Ryo held the Tigers hitless over the next two innings, before Hanshin drew level in the top of the 4th. Doubles from Toritani and Arai scored a run and made it 1-1.

But Tokyo would get the decisive run in the bottom of the 7th. Ihara faced Tigers’ reliever Egusa to lead off the inning, and he worked a walk on eight pitches to occupy first. Miyamoto then bunted the runner along for the first out. During next man Aikawa’s at bat, a wild pitch allowed Ihara to move along to third before the catcher earned a walk. The next man up was Tanaka who was 1 for 2 so far in the game. He hit the fifth pitch from Egusa over the infield to left, Ihara came home and it was 2-1 Tokyo.

Matsuoka came to the mound in the top of the 8th to face the Tigers’ cleanup. Sekimoto singled to lead off the inning, but Matsuoka then sat down Toritani, Kanemoto and Arai in order to end the inning, lowering his ERA to 2.038 in the process.

Lim was given a well-earned rest as Igarashi came into the game in the top of the 9th to try to shut things down. He gave up a leadoff single to Sakurai, but got the next three outs to earn his first save of the year and make it 2-1 Final. Igarashi’s ERA is now down to 2.348.

Kawashima Ryo took the win, and he now has a 3 and 2 record with a 3.408ERA.

So, Tokyo got the sweep against one of their main rivals in the hunt for a playoff spot. All three victories were built around solid starting pitching, lights-out work from the bullpen and some good timely hitting. The two teams are fairly well matched, but it’s clear that Tokyo are the more well-rounded unit at this moment.

Entering the next month of Interleague action, Tokyo find themselves 3.5 games back of the first placed Giants, and 5 games in front of the third placed Dragons. The sweep now puts 6.5 games between Yakult and Hanshin in fourth place.

The Swallows now have a day’s rest before heading to Sendai to open their 2009 IL schedule against the Rakuten Eagles on Tuesday. Last year they posted a 11 and 13 record in the Interleague games, a record that was only better than Yokohama in the Central League. Tokyo will need to do better this year if they are to still be sitting pretty in second place come the resumption of CL hostilities in June.

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

  • stevesayskanpai

    All credit to the Swallows tonight. Hanshin are terrible at the moment, and I wonder whether Mayumi can rescue this season for us. We should be performing a lot better than we are with the talent we have.

  • Rob

    Nice to see Tanaka wake up. His first hit was either very smart on his part or dumb on the battery’s. He looked very bad against Kojima’s curve twice, but maybe because of that he was expecting it, and golfed it into center for a hit.