6/06/09 – Tohoku Rakuten (Home)

June 6th, 2009

Rakuten Eagles character Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 1Yakult Cap

 Tokyo Yakult Swallows 5

Streak: Won 2 Last 5: WLLWW

(Jingu Stadium)

Today was a good day.

So far in the Interleague campaign, the Swallows have been humbled by the best pitching the PL has to offer. Tanaka, Darvish, Sugiuchi and Wakui have all had their way with the Tokyo batting. So it was with trepidation and no small amount of fear that Swallows fans saw who was taking the mound for Rakuten this evening – Japan’s WBC hero Hisashi Iwakuma.

But this wasn’t the Iwakuma of the WBC, coming into this game having lost his last two starts, with his last outing seeing him lasting only four innings having given up five runs. But players and teams have a habit of ending their bad streaks against Tokyo’s birds. But not today.

Taking the mound for Yakult was Yuki, who since being registered for the top team has yet to earn himself a win after his two starts, one good, and one bad. But he came through this evening.

Oh, and I am delighted to announce the return of the real Norichika Aoki after he went AWOL after the WBC. And boy how he has been missed.

Tokyo lined-up the same as yesterday, with Hatakayama keeping his place at first at the expense of D’Antona.

And it was Iwakuma who found himself behind in the bottom of the 1st inning. The ace got two quick outs before Aoki hit one just over the leftfield fence to make it 1-0 Tokyo. Iwakuma laughed to himself on the mound, but he must have known that he was going to be in for another tough game.

Yuki pitched his second hitless inning in the top of the 2nd before Tokyo almost extended their lead in the bottom of the inning. Aikawa came to bat with two outs and Miyamoto on first, and the catcher hit a linedrive along the thirdbase line deep into the corner. Miyamoto was waved around by third base coach Dobashi but he was beaten to the plate by the ball and he was out to end the inning.

But Tokyo would double the lead in the 4th. Aoki hit a chopper to first but managed to beat the throw and was safe at first. A Hatakeyama ground out and a Guiel strikeout saw Miyamoto coming to the plate with two outs and Aoki on second. He hit a single to right, and this time Dobashi made the right call, waving Aoki round with his pace allowing him to just beat the throw to the plate. 2-0 Tokyo.

Yuki took the mound for the top of the 6th, having given up just two hits to that point. But after a single and a sacbunt put a man in scoring position, Takada called for Matsuoka from the bullpen. But Rakuten infielder Watanabe hit Matsuoka’s first pitch to right, allowing a run to score and making it 2-1, with the run charged to Yuki. Matsuoka got the next two outs though and Yuki still had himself the chance of his first win as a Swallow.

Yuki had given up just three hits in seventy-seven pitches of work, striking out five and walking none. 

In the bottom of the 6th Tokyo would make things more secure. Aoki lead off the inning with a drag bunt down the first baseline, and he evaded the diving tag attempt of first baseman Yamazaki to register his third hit of the evening. Hatakeyama then flew out for out number one before Guiel was hit in the foot by a pitch to put men on first and second.

Next man Miyamoto then hit his own third hit of the evening, a double to right, that scored Aoki and put men on second and third with the score at 3-1 Tokyo. Up stepped the only man not to get a hit the previous evening, Hiroyasu Tanaka, who hit the first pitch he saw through the infield to make it 4-1.

 One more Yakult run followed in the 7th from a Fukuchi solo homer, his first of the year, and it was 5-1 Tokyo.

After that the bullpen took over to bring home the win for Yuki. And with Matsuoka (1.929) staying in for the 7th, Igarashi (1.688) working the 8th, and Lim (0.00) the 9th it was 5-1 Final.

So Yuki got his first win in two years to even his record at 1 and 1 with an ERA of 4.725. And well done to the man. He had taken on one of Japan’s premier starter and won.

Aoki also looks to be back with a 3 for 4 night, and he would have had a fourth hit if not for an excellent diving catch from the Eagles shortstop. He is now at .264 with 5 homeruns for the season.

Miyamoto (.303) also had a 3 for 4 night, and Aikawa (.264) went 2 for 4.

Keizo (.249), Hatakeyama (.326) and Guiel (.273) were all hitless for the evening.

So another good win, and Tokyo now take on Hokkaido for two games from tomorrow evening. And with Darvish pitching (and losing) tonight against the Giants, we won’t have to deal with him again until the Japan Series (in my dreams….).



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

  • Nice little sweep! Wipes the stink of that Seibu series off.

    Rakuten sure is in a tailspin as of late – they had more or less the same problem last year, too. Not that I mind!

    Don’t forget Aoki was back as a one-man wrecking crew against Lotte pitching last Sunday as well.

    • He was indeed Steve. But we feared it may have been a one-off, but he’s certainly looked like his real self this week.

      The swagger is back.

  • N26

    There were 27587 people. Thats a lot of people. Was this some kind of special day of some sort?

  • Weekend games often draw 20,000+ spectators. Although there may have been some sort of campaign in place (that I’m not aware of) which might have boosted attendance a bit.

    Did anyone see that Nomura called for two sac bunts in the sixth inning? The first one was understandable because it was Iwakuma, but the second one…?

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. Even when a sac bunt results in all runners being safe, I’ve never seen a second one called in the same inning.

    Is Nomura even dumber than Takada?