7/01/09 – Yokohama (Away)

July 1st, 2009

Tokyo Yakult Swallows cap

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 5

Yokohama BayStars 9

Streak: Lost 3  Last 5: LWLLL


This is becoming somewhat of a bad joke. Yakult twice held a lead, but both today’s starter and bullpen were found rather lacking as they let the BayStars get back in the game way too easily, to allow them their sixth victory in seven meetings this season.

This is simply not acceptable. The BayStars are a 22-44 team. They. Are. Shite.

Ryo Kawashima faced off against Les Walrond, and both starters pretty much stunk up the stadium as neither made it past the 3rd inning, meaning both teams had to go deep into their bullpens. And as it turned out, Yokohama’s relief fared a touch better than Tokyo’s.

Today’s lineup saw Fukuchi batting leadoff and playing leftfield, with second baseman Noguchi batting second in place of Tanaka.

Yokohama took the lead in the top of the 1st, a Fujita single was followed up by timely doubles from Uchikawa and Saeki to make it 2-0 Yokohama.

But the lead wouldn’t last long as Walrond’s frailties were exposed in the top of the 2nd. Solo homers from Guiel (his 12th of the year, a monster shot out of the stadium to right), and Aikawa (no.5 for the year) tied things up at 2-2.

Ryo couldn’t keep Tokyo level though, as he gave up the lead again in the bottom of the 2nd. He walked pitcher Walrond who was then brought home on a Fujita triple for 3-2 Yokohama.

The Swallows would come back and pull ahead in the top of the 3rd. Two no-out hits for Fukuchi and Noguchi were followed by a walk for Aoki to load the bases for D’Antona. The American then hit one through the gap to left to make it 4-3 Tokyo and put runners on the corners for Guiel. He hit a liner to first that Saeki turned into an unassisted double play, before Miyamoto fouled out to first to strand the final runner at third.

But again Ryo was found wanting in the bottom of the inning, as he gave up the tying run after a dead ball and two singles to make it 4-4, before being replaced by Hagiwara (3.316) who got the final out of the inning. Ryo gave up four runs off seven hits in his 2 and 2/3 innings as he never had command of his control. His ERA is now at 3.927.

After a scoreless 5th, Tokyo took the lead for the second time in the top of the 6th. A single for Fukuchi, a walk for Aoki, a double steal and a D’Antona sacfly put the birds ahead 5-4 but that would be the last run they would score.

In the bottom of the 5th Lee Hye-Cheon (3.375) replaced Hagiwara after he had given up a lead-off double to Murata. Saeki then hit to put men on second and third with no outs. But Lee dug in and got two groundouts and a flyout to get out of the inning with the lead intact. If only the relief that followed could have been as gutsy.

Masao Kida then gave up two runs in the 6th via a dead ball and Fujita homer, and one in the 7th via a Saeki solo shot and the BayStars had themselves a 7-4 Yokohama lead.

Oshimoto (3.329) then gave up two more off four hits in the 8th and it was 9-5 Yokohama.

The BayStars used a total of eight pitchers themselves, but the last six of them gave up no runs and just two hits between them as they shackled the Swallows bats through the second half of the game. 9-5 Yokohama Final.

Kida took the loss, his fourth of the year as his ERA rose to 5.635.

The Tokyo bullpen with a lead in the last third of a game is almost unbeatable. The Matsuoka=>Igarashi=>Lim trio is as good as it gets in the NPB. This season, in games in which all three of them were involved Tokyo have a 15 and 0 record. In games in which two of them featured, the team are 10 and 1. Impressive stuff indeed.

Unfortunately, our bullpen in other situations, i.e. today’s, leaves a fair bit to be desired. The way we’ve been playing this season has meant we haven’t seen the “bad” side of the bullpen all that often, but today it was there for all to see.

Aoki was 0 for 2 with three walks.

Tokyo now get a day off before heading to Koshien on Friday for the first of three games with the Tigers. After these two scrappy performances (I’m being kind there) against the BayStars, they need to improve drastically and win the series against the struggling Tigers to get things back on track. Somehow, knowing the Swallows as I do, I feel it won’t be that easy at Koshien despite the Tigers struggles. The “Swallows of 2009 so far” will bounce back in good style, as they have done after every wobble this season. The Swallows of old however are liable to get swept and allow Hanshin to get some valuable wins and confidence back at their expense. So this upcoming series will be a benchmark on just how good this year’s team really is.

The series has got to be better than today and yesterday’s games, though. Has to be. They are seven hours of my life I will never get back.

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

  • zunlin

    The question is : why not Matsuoka=>Igarashi=>Lim also today?

    Aikawa is on fire! Unfortunately, Fujita was hotter -_-

    • I guess as both Matsuoka and Igarashi worked an inning each the night before, the idea was to get Kida to work a scoreless inning or two before bringing two or all of the trio in.

      But as Kida gave away the tying and go-ahead runs in the 6th, that plan was abandoned and they put Kida back out there for the 7th to try and redeem himself, which he failed to do.

      Yes, Aikawa is indeed on fire, and D’Antona is pretty hot too.

  • Look at the bright side: when’s the last time we saw a game where the respective winner and loser were both the oldest guys on their respective teams? Kida and Kudoh are a combined 87 years old or so!

    • That would only be a bright side if Kida had won and our perplexity at his being in the rotation were allayed. As it stands, the very fact that Kida pitches as much as he does is a big black cloud over the Swallows. Thankfully, this being the Tokyo club, that cloud is not alone.

      • ^^^^

        I probably don’t need to point this out, but it should be said that Garrett is THE pessimist here at Tsubamegun.

    • And for the record, I like Kida. Quite a lot.

      He just has his moments that test my faith in him. And they’ve been more frequent this season, mainly when he was used as a starter.

      • I’m also the bar bore.

        As for Kida, he’s had a long and distinguished career – he’s been a contributor, a good man to have around, and even stellar in his time – it’s just that that time is apparently passing.

        As with many of Tokyo’s problems, though, my frustration with Kida is more Takada’s fault than Kida’s – Kida should be winding down his active years in middle relief; he should never have started this year. It’s also hard to see why he’s still getting the chances he’s getting. To what end? Takada in general seems to opt for the up-and-comers when other things are equal (even when they’re not.) Don’t we have a youngster who can load the bases, give up a few runs, and cause me to irritate David with my impotent raging, all while benefitting from the innings?

      • Kida has been sent down to the farm, so you can now sleep a little easier Garrett!

  • Rob

    Is there some kind of local jinx on TYS? A hex? Does Yokohama they step it up a notch because they’re cheesed about losing Aikawa? Disappointing.

    That said, I liked last night’s lineup a lot. Good to see Fukuchi and Noguchi get in. Nice to see them score a few more runs, even though it wasn’t enough.