7/03/09 – Hanshin (Away)

July 3rd, 2009

Sanshin TigersTokyo Yakult Swallows cap

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 2

Hanshin Tigers 7

Streak: Lost 4     Last 5:  WLLLL

(Koshien)

So then, this is a definite wobble. Tokyo went down against the Tigers to their fourth straight loss on a rainy evening in Koshien. Their excellent Interleague form is becoming more of a distant memory with each passing game.

Yakult’s starter was Tateyama, coming off his first loss in eons against the Giants a week ago. He had given up 12 runs (11 earned) in his last two starts so things weren’t really looking promising form-wise coming into this game. Today he would give up another 5 (4 earned) as both his and the Swallows’ engines appear to be stalling.

Today’s starting lineup saw two changes from Wednesday’s loss against the Baystars. Tanaka returned to second base batting second, and Morioka replaced Keizo at short and in the no.8 slot.

Tokyo faced off against Tigers’ starter Andoh, and the chubster managed to keep the Yakult bats quiet for large stretches of his 8 innings of work.

The Swallows got a hit and stranded a man at second in the top of the 1st before a one out Miyamoto walk and an Aikawa double put men on second and third in the top of the next inning. Alas Morioka only managed to hit one back to Andoh, with Miyomoto being ran-down between third and home, allowing the runners to advance to second and third with two outs now on the board. Unfortunately, along with Morioka the chance was gone as pitcher Tateyama tried a cheeky squeeze bunt but couldn’t beat the ball to first. Chance over.

And Hanshin made them pay for their wastefulness in the bottom of the 2nd. A leadoff walk for Kanemoto was followed up by a homer from Brazell and it was 2-0 Hanshin. Two consecutive doubles followed to make it 3-0 before the fourth Tigers run scored on a D’Antona error to make it 4-0 Hanshin going into the 3rd.

Tateyama gave up another run off two hits in the 4th to make it 5-0 and that was all for him. He never looked comfortable, lacking movement on his breaking stuff and leaving lots of pitches up in the zone for which he was duly punished. He gave up his runs off eight his, striking out two and walking the one. He would ultimately be the losing pitcher with his record slipping to 8 and 2 and his ERA hitting 3.080, the first time it’s been north of 3 all year.

But things didn’t get too much better from the bullpen. Hagiyama (3.429) gave up a run off two hits in the 5th to make it 6-0. He hit a man in the top of the 6th but managed to get out of the inning via a double play.

Ichiba (5.239) came in to pitch the 7th and 8th innings, giving up the seventh run in the 7th off two hits.

Tokyo’s consolation runs came in the 6th, Guiel with the timely double to bring home Tanaka, and the 8th via a Fukuchi solo shot (his 2nd of the year).

Sugiyama relieved Andoh for the top of the 9th and allowed two men on base from a single and dead ball, but he would be saved be a double play and it was 7-2 Hanshin Final.

Hanshin had won at a canter, outhitting Tokyo 12 to 7. Fukuchi and Aikawa were the only bright sparks with the bat, both going 2 for 4 for the evening. Aoki was hitless again.

So things are looking rather grim at the moment. A loss tomorrow would equal their worse run of losses this year. Hopefully, like during that last slump in April, they will be able to bounce back before the losing mentality sets in.

Tomorrow’s game is at 6pm. I for one, will be glad when this week is over……

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