7/04/09 – Hanshin (Away)

July 4th, 2009

Sanshin TigersTokyo Yakult Swallows cap

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 6

Hanshin Tigers 3

Streak: Won 1     Last 5:  LLLLW

(Koshien)

Now that was more like it. With Tateyama struggling during last night’s defeat, it was left to Yoshinori to take up the slack and try to end Tokyo’s rotten string of results. After going 8 innings of one run ball last Saturday against the Giants in possibly his best performance as a pro, the 19 year old went 7 innings tonight, keeping the Tigers bats at bay while Yakult’s bats woke up to give him his 5th win of the season.

Yoshinori’s win was in his first appearence at Koshien since playing there as a High School student two years ago, which just puts it in to perspective how far he’s come in such a short space of time. He’s now starting to establish himself as the no.3 starter for Tokyo behind Tateyama and Ishikawa, but if we’re talking current form, then he’s a definite no.1.

Today’s lineup saw one major change over all the lineups that Takada had put on the field in 2009. Aoki started the year batting no.3 in the lineup, and no matter how poorly he has performed, or how much of a slump he has been in, Takada has persisted with him in that slot. But now, after a June in which Aoki seemed to wake up, followed by a week of anonymity with the bat, Takada moved him to leadoff, a position that he occupied earlier in his career to great success.

  1. Aoki (CF)
  2. Fukuchi (LF)
  3. Tanaka (2B)
  4. D’Antona (1B)
  5. Guiel (RF)
  6. Miyamoto (3B)
  7. Aikawa (C)
  8. Keizo (SS)
  9. Yoshinori (P)

Tokyo’s bad run looked like it may be about to continue in the bottom of the 1st, as two singles and a Kanemoto sacfly made it 1-0 Hanshin. But Tokyo would get themselves right back in it against Tigers starter Nohmi in the top of the 2nd.

D’Antona worked a walk to leadoff the inning before Guiel flew-out for out number one.  Miyamoto then singled to put men on first and second for the red-hot Aikawa. He hit one to right which rolled to the outfield wall, allowing Jamie to score easily and Miyamoto to hustle home from first to make it 2-1 Tokyo.

And the lead was extended in the 3rd, with an Aoki solo homer to right (no.7 of the year) making it 3-1 Tokyo.

The Tigers had themselves a chance to get back into the game in the bottom of the 3rd. Hirano hit a one out triple before a Sekimoto flyout and walks for Arai and Kanemoto loaded the bases for Brazell. But the man who had put early nails in Tateyama’s coffin the night before with his two run homer could only strikout for the second time in the game and the threat was snuffed out.

Yoshinori had himself a 1,2,3 inning in the 4th and then the lead was extended again in the top of the 5th. Aoki earned a walk to leadoff the inning before Fukuchi bunted him to second for the first out of the inning. Tigers manager Mayumi then turned to the bullpen as Nohmi was replaced by Watanabe. But the Switch made little difference, as after Tanaka had grounded out to move the runner along to third, D’Antona hit one of his customary shots through the infield in left to score Aoki and make it 4-1 Tokyo.

Yosinori had himself another three-man inning in the 5th before Hanshin got right back in it in the 6th. A feeble Arai grounder went through the legs of shortstop Keizo as the Tiger reached first on the error. And Hanshin would punish that sloppiness, as next man up Kanemoto hit a two-run homer to right to make it 4-3 and the game was back on.

And so to the 8th inning, where Yakult would make sure of their victory against reliever Atchison. Tanaka hit a grounder to second to open the inning, but the play was fluffed by Sekimoto. And like for Keizo’s error in the 6th, it would be punished as D’Antona hit one off the outfield fence for a double, scoring Tanaka and making it 5-3 Tokyo. Jamie was then replaced by pinch-runner Noguchi. A Guiel flew-out before Miyamoto struck out as it looked like the runner may be stranded. But up stepped man of the moment Aikawa who hit a single along the first base line that scored Noguchi and it was 6-3 Tokyo.

Igarashi (1.187) gave up two hits in relief in the bottom of the 8th, but he got out of the inning with the three run lead intact.

Tokyo then wasted several chances to extend that lead further in the top of the 9th against reliever Sajikihara. The second walk of the game then a swift steal from Aoki, followed up with a single and a steal for Fukuchi put men on second and third with one out. Tanaka hit a grounder to third, Aoki was ran-down and it was as you were but with two outs on the board. Pinch-hitter Yuichi then worked a walk to load the bases for Guiel, but the Canadian struck out for the third time in the game to end the inning.

Lim (0.00) then got three quick groundouts in the bottom of the 9th for his 19th save of the year – 6-3 Final.

Yoshinori’s record now stands at 5 and 4 with his ERA now at a respectable 3.578. He gave up his 3 runs (2 earned) off 6 hits, with 5 Ks and 3 BBs.

Aikawa (.284) and D’Antona (.263) were the heros with the bat. The catcher went 2 for 4 with 3 RBIs, and Jamie went 2 for 3 with 2 RBIs. Aoki (.257) got the other RBI courtesy of his homer. He went 1 for 3 with 2 walks. Given his current team-leading OBP of .380, leadoff would seem to be the ideal spot for him in the lineup as he seeks consistency with the bat.

The two teams meet again tomorrow evening, with Ishikawa set to start and looking to banish his recent poor form on the mound as Tokyo look to banish last weeks poor form for good.

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

  • Rob

    Thanks for the updates!

    Tanaka hits third and goes 0-for-5. The third spot in the TYS order seems to be jinxed this year. That must be it. Voodoo.

    Good to see them do well despite off nights by Guiel and Tanaka.

    Glad to see Takeda shuffle things a bit again. I don’t like continuing revolution in the lineup, but I am happy to see little changes and tweaks when the existing model isn’t getting the job done.
    I like to think mixing things up will keep everyone alert. Morioka, Noguchi, Yuichi, Kawabata, and Takeuchi have all gotten ABs if not starts. (Have I missed Hatakeyama?)