5/31/09 – Chiba (Away)

May 31st, 2009

Chiba Lotte Marines logoTokyo Yakult Swallows 7Tokyo Yakult Swallows cap

Chiba Lotte Marines 1

Streak:  Won 1   Last 5: LWWLW

(Chiba Marine Stadium)

While the rain fell down over Tokyo, the skies remained sunny over Chiba Marine Stadium as Yakult coasted to a straightforward victory against the Marines.

Ryo Kawashima started for the birds and had one of his better days, going seven innings of one-run five-hit ball with no walks and five stikeouts  for good measure. He also got plenty of run support as the Marines pitchers struggled from the off.

Tokyo’s starting lineup was the same as Saturday’s, with the exception being Kawamoto coming in for Aikawa behind the plate and batting ninth.

Chiba starter Ohmine struggled out of the gate, as Yakult went ahead in the top of the opening inning. A Keizo Kawashima single, a Fukuchi double and a walk for Aoki loaded the bases for Jamie D’Antona. D’Antona hit one to right, a ball that should have probably been caught by the preening Chiba rightfielder Saburo, but it wasn’t and one run scored making it 1-0 Tokyo with the bases still loaded for Guiel. After the Canadian struck out looking for the first out, Hatakeyama then hit a flyball to left, deep enough to score Fukuchi from third and it was 2-0 Tokyo. Miyamoto then grounded out to first to end the inning.

Chiba scored their only run of the game in the 4th, Saburo hitting a single to get on, and he was brought home by Ohmatsu one man later to halve the Tokyo lead to 2-1.

But from then on there was only one team in it as Yakult pulled away. Leadoff singles from Keizo and Fukuchi in the 5th put men in scoring positions for Aoki. And the centrefielder showed the quality that’s been all too often absent so far this season with a triple over the head of Saburo in rightfield, scoring two runs and making it 4-1 Tokyo. Amazingly, those were Aoki’s first RBIs in his last 64 plate appearances. Guiel brought Aoki home later in the inning with a sacfly and it Tokyo had themselves a comfortable lead at 5-1.

But they weren’t done yet. In the 6th, Tanaka lead off with a single and was moved around by a Kawamoto bunt for out number one. Keizo then worked a walk before Fukuchi flew out for out number two. Up stepped Aoki, who seemed to have remembered the quality of player that he is as he hit a double to bring home two more runs to make it 7-1 Tokyo. Aoki had a 2 for 4 game (a triple and a double) with a walk, and four RBIs in what must rank as his finest game of the season so far. And long may it continue.

And that was pretty much that, with Matsuoka (2.077) and Hagiwara (1.800) pitching hitless 8th and 9th innings respectively and it was 7-1 Final.

Kawashima Ryo grabbed the win to take his record to 4 and 3 and his ERA to 3.496.

Tokyo outhit the Marines 11 to 5, with the top of the order red-hot, as Keizo (.261) and Fukuchi (.303) got three hits each along with Aoki’s heroics.

Guel had a painful day, literally, as he went 0 for 2, with the RBI sacfly and two dead balls. He’s now at .287.

Yakult now have a day off before heading to Seibu Dome for two games with the Saitama Seibu Lions starting Tuesday evening.

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