5/25/09 – Fukuoka SoftBank (Home)

May 25th, 2009

softbank-hawks-logoFukuoka SoftBank Hawks 3

Tokyo Yakult Swallows cap

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 2

Streak: Lost 3     Last 5: LWLLL

(Jingu Stadium)

Tokyo continued their series of matchups against Japan’s finest starting pitchers (AKA the Interleague schedule) as they faced SoftBank’s Sugiuchi looking to avoid their third consecutive loss. Yakult countered with Ishikawa taking the mound for the Swallows, but while he was good, Sugiuchi was better as Fukuoka maintained their unbeaten record in IL play.

The starting lineup looked like this:

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

The lineup was significant in the fact that it was the first game that first baseman Jamie D’Antona didn’t start (when healthy) this season as Takada started to search for alternatives for the Americans’s slumping bat.

SoftBank took the lead early against Ishikawa in the top of the 1st. Honda singled to leadoff the game before Kawasaki hit into a double play to put two outs on the board. And how the Swallows would appreciate those outs as next man up,  the red-hot Ortiz, blasted a homer to left to make it 1-0 SoftBank.

Three hits in the top of the 2nd (pitcher Sugiuchi with the RBI single) extended the lead to 2-0 SoftBank before the game quietened down as Ishikawa restricted the Hawks to just two more hits through the 7th inning.

Tokyo got on the board against Sugiuchi in the bottom of the 7th. A one-out Tanaka double was followed up by an Aikawa groundout before D’Antona, pinch-hitting for Ishikawa, hit a single to bring in a run and make it 2-1 SoftBank.

But the two-run lead was restored in the top of the 8th with Matsuoka on the mound in relief for Yakult. A Honda double, a walk and a Matsunaka sacfly and the score was 3-1 SoftBank.

But Tokyo fought back again in the bottom of the inning against the Hawks relief. Miyamoto got on base with a single before Guiel brought him home with a one-out double to make it 3-2 SoftBank. Pitcher Settsu then struck out two in a row to end the inning and strand the tying run on base.

After Kida worked a hitless top of the 9th, Tokyo had three outs against Hawks’ closer Mahara to save the game. But a strikeout and a groundout brought D’Antona to the plate with two outs and no-one on. He hit the second pitch from Mahara deep to right but it was just the wrong side of the foul pole. That was his chance gone though as he struck out two pitches later to end the game at 3-2 Final.

Tokyo have lost three straight for the first time in a month as they continue to struggle with Pacific League pitching. 

Ishikawa was tagged with the loss and now has a record of 6 and 2 with an ERA of 3.00. He gave up his two runs off seven hits in his seven innings of work, striking out three and walking none.

Guiel went 2 for 3 with a walk and is now batting an impressive .304. Tanaka also had a two-hit night, going 2 for 4 and is now at .264 for the year. Kawashima, Ihara, Hatakeyama and Aikawa were all hitless for the evening.

Tokyo now have a record of 2 and 4 for the IL games so far and 0 and 2 wearing the Kokutetsu Swallows throwbacks as their breathing space at 2nd place in the CL is starting to shrink.

They get a day off to recuperate before taking on the Orix Buffaloes at Jingu on Wednesday and Thursday.

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