7/08/09 – Chunichi (Home)

July 8th, 2009

Tokyo Yakult Swallows cap

Chunichi Dragons 6

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 11

Streak: Won 1    Last 5: LWLLW

(Jingu Stadium)

While the starting pitching again left something to be desired, the Tokyo bats awoke from their slumber as they knocked in eleven runs off fifteen hits in overturning the Dragons at Jingu.

Yuki Tanaka (4.68) started for Tokyo and came within an out of being in line for his third win of the season, but in the end he had to settle for a no-decision after giving up four runs off ten hits in his 4 and 2/3 innings of work.

Chunichi starter Ogasawara wasn’t any better, lasting just 1 and 2/3 innings, but thankfully Yakult’s bullpen was more robust than the Dragons’.

Tokyo lined up like so:

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

Guiel was given a rest after his recent slump, with Ihara coming in to replace him. Aoki was continued at leadoff with Fukuchi trying his hand at the troublesome no.3 slot.

Tokyo took the lead in the bottom of the 1st inning. A one-out Tanaka double and a Fukuchi single set the stage for D’Antona who hit his 12th home run of the year to bring in three runs and make is 3-0 Tokyo.

Four two-out hits and a walk cut the lead to 3-2 in the top of the 2nd before a Keizo solo homer (no.7 for 2009) made it 4-2 in the bottom of the inning.

But back came Chunchi in the top of the 3rd, a solo shot from Koike cutting the lead to 4-3.

The 4th inning was scoreless for both teams before Chunichi drew level for the first time in the game in the top of the 5th. A Wada double put a man on second with two outs for outfielder Fujii, who hit a timely single to bring home the tying Wada to make it 4-4. A rather crestfallen Yuki was then replaced by Hagiwara (3.33) who got the last out of the inning.

Yakult pulled back ahead in this see-saw contest in the bottom of the inning. Back to back solo homers for Fukuchi (3) and D’Antona (13) made it 6-4 Tokyo.

In came the usually reliable Matsuoka (2.35) to pitch the 6th, but two singles and a dead ball for Blanco put him in a bases loaded two-out pinch. A pinch from which he couldn’t escape as Wada, having worked the count full, poked one through the infield to left scoring two runs and like a roach that just wouldn’t die Chunichi had made it 6-6.

But the Swallows took a decisive lead straight away in the bottom of the 6th off reliever Payano who replaced Nelson. An Aikawa leadoff walk and a Keizo single put men on first and second. Pinch-hitter Noguchi then laid down a bunt, but Payano made the wrong choice and threw to third, Aikawa was safe and Noguchi reached first on the fielder’s choice. The bases were loaded for Aoki, who hit his second single of the game to left, scoring two runners for 8-6 Tokyo, and leaving men on first and second for Tanaka.

The second baseman then bunted to move both runners into scoring position with one out. Up stepped Fukuchi who hit one to short, but Chunichi shortstop Ibata threw home, Noguchi was safe and Tokyo had their second man reach base via a fielders choice, 9-6 Tokyo.

Lee Hye-Cheon (2.84) and Igarashi (1.15) pitched hitless 7th and 8th innings respectively before Tokyo added on two runs in the bottom of the 8th. Tanaka reached first with a single and was brought home with a Fukuchi double to make it 10-6. Another run would score on a wild pitch and it was 11-6.

Lim (0.00) pitched a swift 1,2,3 9th and that was that for 11-6 Tokyo Final.

So, an encouraging night, and hopefully the kind of healthy victory that will get the team back on a good roll.

Pitching-wise, aside from Yuki who again proved himself eminently hittable, it has been nice to see Lee emerge as a reliable option out of the bullpen. He’s looking more and more assured as the season progresses.

But it has been the bats that have been equally responsible for the bad run of late, but they sure did well tonight. Every starter bar Yuki got a hit: Fukuchi (.281)  and Keizo (.247) had three each, Aoki .(258), Tanaka (.286) and D’Antona (.262) had two (Jamie’s being both homers) with everyone else chipping in with one each.

D’Antona led the way with 4 RBIs, Fukuchi had 3, Aoki 2 and Keizo 1.

The Swallows just outhit the Dragons 15 to 13.

The way Tokyo didn’t let Chunichi’s continual pegging-back of their lead affect them showed they still have the fighting qualities that got them to 2nd position in the first place. A second position that they now once again have sole ownership of.

The two teams meet for the final game of the series tomorrow, and after a healthy win apiece it should be a keenly contested rubber game.

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

    Despite the win, i’m wondering what’s happening to our pitchers.
    With the exception of Igarashi(what a season so far!) and Big Lim, all the remaining ones are worsing in the last month….
    Something related to the athletics training or just a coincidence?

    • Rob

      Ooh – that’s scary. It’s not that hot yet, and the season isn’t half over.