5/20/09 – Tohoku Rakuten (Away)

May 20th, 2009

Rakuten Eagles characterTokyo Yakult Swallows 0  Yakult Cap

Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 2 

Streak: Lost 1 Last 5: WWWWL

(Kleenex Miyagi Stadium)

This was always going to be a tough one. A day after facing Darrell Rasner and getting their 6th win on the trot, today saw Yakult try their hand against a different proposition entirely, Masahiro Tanaka. The Eagles’ ace was coming into the game with a 5 and 0 record and an ERA of 1.047 in his five appearances this season, and was sure to be a stern test for Tokyo’s lively bats. And so it proved to be.

Starting on the mound for Yakult was youngster Yoshinori, who was coming into the game in slightly worse shape than his opposite number. He made a solid start to the season but ran into trouble as he started have control issues. His last start was on April 26th, after which he was sent down to the farm team with his record and 2 and 2 with a 6.061 ERA.

Tokyo’s starting lineup saw just one change, with Noguchi coming in for Fukuchi in leftfield and batting second.

Yoshinori did his best, going seven innings on 101 pitches, giving up just one run off four hits, striking out two and walking four.

He got into a bases loaded one-out jam in the 3rd but veteran cleanup man Yamazaki hit into a double play to end the inning. He allowed a runner to reach third in the 4th with two outs but again managed to strand the go-ahead man. But his luck would run out in the 6th.

A walk, a single and a walk loaded the bases with one out. Rightfielder Masato Nakamura then hit a sacfly to left to score a run and it was 1-0 Rakuten.

Rakuten’s other run came in the bottom of the 8th, as Barrett took the mound in relief. Two hits and an intentional walk loaded the bases with one out on the board. Pinch hitter Seguinol hit one to first, the runner was forced out at second but another run scored and it was 2-0 Rakuten. Barrett’s ERA is now at 4.154.

Now to the meat of the story. Masahiro Tanaka was simply dominating. He threw a complete game shutout of the Swallows on 114 pitches. He gave up just two hits, struck out nine and walked just the one. The nearest Tokyo came to a run was when Aoki hit a leadoff double in the top of the 7th inning. Looking visibly annoyed, Tanaka then proceeded to strike out D’Antona, Guiel and Miyamoto to end the threat and show Tokyo just who they were dealing with.

Yakult’s only other hit came to lead off the 1st from Kawashima Keizo.

Yoshinori took the loss to take his record to 2 and 3 and his ERA to 4.629 . He looked decent enough tonight but was just unlucky to be making his comeback against one of the best in the game today.

Tokyo now get a day off to travel up to Sapporo for a two game series with the red-hot Fighters from Friday evening.

Yoshinori observes one of the best at work


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

  • Damnit. The jinx was in.

  • Luckily, all the other CL teams bar Yokohama also lost tonight, so the damage is minimal.

  • That Tanaka is a monster, isn’t he? And only 20 years old still.

  • Zunlin

    We would be proud of THIS Yoshinori.Maybe he won’t be the next Tanaka, but he could help the Swallows cause for sure.

  • Tanaka is a monster indeed.

    Yoshinori held is own too and on any other day he would have probably got himself a win.

    And you’re right Zunlin, he has a big part to play in the future of the Swallows.

  • Tanaka has an incredible 0.731 RIP.

  • Christopher

    You ran into the best pitcher in Japan at the moment. However, you did manage to gain a game on the Giants – things are going well for the Swallows this year.

  • Indeed they are. I’ve been pleasantly surprised.

    Both Tanaka and Iwakuma are astounding. With a little more pop on offense, Tohoku will be a tough, tough team.

  • If facing Tanaka wasn’t bad enough, tonight’s starter for Hokkaido is set to be Darvish, with Tateyama on the mound for Tokyo.

  • Darvish is sporting a RIP of 0.862 and has pegged a league-leading 5 batters; don’t be surprised if he drills Aoki in two ways. His WHIP is 0.776.

  • Rob

    Nuts. So even if the Fighters hitters are tuckered out after beating up on the Giants, they may not need to score too many runs to win.