6/11/09 – Fukuoka SoftBank (Away)

June 11th, 2009

softbank-hawks-logoTokyo Yakult Swallows 6

Tokyo Yakult Swallows cap

Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks 3

Streak: Won 1     Last 5: WLWLW

(Yahoo Dome)

In 2009 a Shohei Tateyama start is becoming shorthand for almost certain victory. And tonight it proved no different, as he got good run support to go with his decent seven innings to put a spoke in the wheel of the SoftBank Interleague winning-machine.

Tateyama gave up three runs off four hits (including two homers), striking out three and walking three to put his record at 8 and 0 with a 1.858 ERA. He is now on a run of 14 wins since he last experienced defeat. He is, as I will not tire of saying, THE M.F. MAN.

Tonight’s lineup saw Takada shuffle his lineup even more that usual:

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

Ohba started on the mound for Softbank, and he had already been the losing pitcher reponsible for one of the three games they’d lost out of their seventeen games against CL opposition so far this year.

And Ohba fell behind in the top of the 2nd inning in this game, primarily of his own doing. Two two-out walks for Miyamoto and Yuichi put two men on for Aikawa. The catcher hit a single to right, and Miyamoto was waved home and beat the (wayward) throw home, while Yuichi advanced to third and Aikawa to second, 1-0 Tokyo. Next man Keizo then hit a fly ball to left which was well snagged by Ortiz leaning over the small wall in left, and the two men were stranded.

Then in the top of the 3rd, Yakult had a chance to extend that lead. After two strikeouts for Ohba, he issued three straight walks (and walks 4,5 and 6 of the evening for Ohba) to Aoki, Guiel and Hatakeyama to load the bases. Ohba was then benched as SoftBank turned to the bullpen with Satoh coming in to replace the starter. And the reliever got the job done, striking out Miyamoto after a nine-pitch battle to strand yet more runners.

And Fukuoka drew level in the bottom of the 3rd. Third baseman Matsuda getting his team’s first hit of the game, a solo shot over the fence in left and we were level at 1-1.

Tokyo would retake the lead in the top of the 4th. Yuichi led off the inning with a single to right before Aikawa flew out to centre for out number one. During next man Keizo’s at bat, a poor throw from catcher Tanoue allowed Yuichi to be safe at second after a failed hit and run/ill-advised steal (both are Takada hallmarks.) The wee shortstop then hit one deep to right that rolled to the outfield wall, the run scored easily and Keizo hustled to third base for a RBI triple. 2-1 Tokyo. And he would swiftly be brought home by a Fukuchi sac-fly for 3-1.

And another run followed in the 5th. Singles from Aoki and Guiel put men on the corners with no-outs for Hatakwyama. He hit a grounder to short as the Hawks turned the double play, allowing one run to score and make it 4-1 Tokyo. The double play would prove costly as subsequent singles from Miyamoto and Yuichi would be wasted, and the birds left both men stranded.

The Hawks however weren’t done yet. In the bottom of the 5th, Tateyama walked Matsuda and Tanoue then hit a homer to left and the lead was down to one with the score at 4-3. Tokyo’s four runs to that point had come off seven hits, while Softbank’s three runs had come off a mere three hits. Which is just one example of why they’ve been kicking all kinds of ass of late.

The Swallows added another run to the lead in the 7th. Guiel hit a leadoff single before Hatakeyama was out via an excellent diving catch from secondbaseman Honda. Miyamoto then hit a grounder to third, but he just beat the double play ball to first as Guiel was out at second for out number two. An error from shortstop Kawasaki then allowed Yuichi aboard as Yakult had men on first and second. Aikawa then hit to centre with centrefielder Hasehgawa taking the ball on the hop. Miyamoto made it home by the skin of his teeth and it was 5-3. That was Aikawa’s second timely hit of the evening and his second RBI as he raised his average to .261.

And their final run came in the 8th. Two walks from reliever Kamiuchi were punished by a timely Guiel single that brought home one runner and made it 6-3 Tokyo.

With Igarashi (1.543) and Lim (0.00/16 saves) working their usual deadly effective 8th and 9th inning shifts, Tokyo avoided a four game sweep at the hands of Fukuoka, 6-3 Final.

Guiel (.287) had a 3 for 4 game with a walk as he is starting to put in the kind of consistent performances that are rewarding both the team and fans’ faith in him. He is fast becoming one of Tokyo’s key men with the bat as well as the glove. His relentlessly positive attitude doesn’t hurt either.

Yuichi (.333) also had a good evening going 2 for 3 with a walk and he will only add to the healthy competition for starting places at the ballclub.

Tokyo’s IL record is now back at .500 with a 9-9 record. Trying to finish the IL games with at least a .500 record is key, as they will be able to restart the CL campaign still healthily over .500 overall.

They now get a day off before heading to Osaka for two games at the Osaka/Kyocera Dome against the Buffaloes from Saturday.

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

  • Every other CL team lost tonight, including an amazing tonking for Hiroshima, losing 23-2 at the hands of Lotte (including a 15 run 6th inning).

    So all-in-all a very good evening, and capped by the fact that former Swallows sicknote/waste of money pitcher turned healthy Giants ace starter (it’s the hookers and cocaine I tell you!!) Gonzalez lost his first game of the season against Orix. Get in!!

  • Christopher

    Sugiuchi was the starting pitcher the last time the Hawks lost a game against a CL Team not Ohba. Tigers June 7th at Koshien before we decided that we were winning too much.

  • Ah, so he was. It was the loss before that Ohba was responsible for, thank you.

    Post corrected.

  • Great banner!

    • Thanks, Simon.

      I’d love to get my hands on a big close-up of Tateyama in action in this year’s uniform – haven’t found one yet and am nowhere near good enough or in the right position to take it myself. That’s the banner my dreams are made of.

      • I’d love to help you out with this, but given that the stupid CL has that whole “we don’t tell you the starters ahead of time” thing going, it’s hard for me to know when to go watch Yakult and bring my big camera with me.

        But maybe I can take a stab at it in a month or so when I have summer vacation, if you think you can predict a Tateyama start.

      • Deanna, sorry this is showing up over your comment – weird design I hadn’t noticed before: comments won’t nest below the level of yours, but then show up in reverse chronological order.

        Anyway, we’ll do our best. Between you and our man Marcus (who needs to go to more games), we should be able to get the photo we want soon. The photo in this very post would be good if it were only bigger, so it will still look good up top.

        Mr. Watkins has been pretty good about calling the starters. We’ll put it up here or let you know as soon as we can when we think Tateyama is going to start.

        The other option would be to maybe catch him in pre-game practice.

  • Matthew

    What is happening with Jamie D’Antona? Haven’t seen him in the lineup.

    • He’s currently being used in a pinch-hitting role as he’s not been delivering consistently enough as a starter.

      He’s currently batting .232 and is leading the team in strikeouts. He doesn’t walk a great deal so he just doesn’t get on base a whole lot either. His current OBP of .273 is the lowest on the team.

      This combined with Guiel’s resurgence means that at the moment, Takada is choosing to go with just the one foreign bat in the cleanup positions (after having Jamie and Guiel in the 4 and 5 slots for the first couple of months).

      Having said that, Takada likes to tinker with his lineup, so we could well see Jamie back in the lineup at anytime.

      Ah I see Chris already beat me to the reply! (see below)

  • Jamie still gets the occasional start, but he’s having to contend with a whole host of young guys for at-bats.

    If he can relocate that smooth swing that saw him hitting easy singles and doubles back in April, then he’ll be able to stake a claim without a doubt.

    He’s currently tied with Guiel for the team lead in terms of home runs (8), and he’s had the fifth most at-bats thus far, but he’s the only semi-regular player on the team sporting an OBP below three hundred (.273).

    Add to that his 45 K’s (good enough for fourth in the league) against nine walks, and you can start to see why Takada feels the need to plug another guy in at first every now and again.

    And to D’Antona’s credit, he’s been a team-player the whole time and is very upbeat about having a chance to help the team.

    Hopefully he can stay healthy and stake a claim to first base after the All-star break.

  • Healthy Guiel is a good Guiel!