7/10/09 — Yokohama (Home)

July 10th, 2009

Tokyo Yakult Swallows cap

Yokohama BayStars 2

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 4

Streak: Won 3  Last 5: LLWWW

(Jingu Stadium)

Another fun game to watch if you’re of the penguin persuasion as Tokyo won its third game in a row and only its second of the season versus the last-placed BayStars.

Guiel steps into the shower.

With Ryo Kawashima (4-4, 3.73) looking to dismantle talk of possible recoup time in the minors, the Swallows were able to keep the scrappy Yokohama offense at bay. Kawashima pitched five and a third innings of three hit, one run baseball to help protect a delicate 2-1 Tokyo lead.

All of the scoring took place in the opening frame with Yokohama getting on the board first via a Fujita-scoring rbi single care of Murata. Tokyo responded with Aoki’s second leadoff walk in as many days followed with the very predictable bunt by Tanaka. Fukuchi then brought Aoki around from second with a single to right before D’Antona put Fukuchi on third with a single of his own. Guiel had his first rbi of the evening with a sac fly to deep left-center to reach the score mentioned above.

And then the game got a bit quiet for about five innings.

Yokohama starter, Miura, settled down and turned into the Miura that always seems to show up for games against us. He gave up only four hits through seven innings and was faulted with two earned runs. He didn’t figure in the decision this time.

The Yokohama sixth ended up being a little wacky. Kawashima got the first out before walking Murata and invoking the hook. Lee came in, threw one pitch, fielded a weak grounder to record the second out, and came up hurting. Crap. He was replaced by Hagiwara who immediately made things very interesting. With two outs, he gave up a single and a walk to load the bases.

Yikes, right?

Well, it looked like at least two runs were going to come around, but then Keizo Kawashima (SS) started slapping his glove really hard behind Shimozono who was taking a decent lead off of second base. It looked like the normal level of harassment, and Shimozono did a good job of ignoring the gamesmanship. Kawashima backed off as Hagiwara started his motion, but then b-lined it for second base to be on the business end of a perfectly timed and placed pick-off throw to end the inning and the danger. Phew.

But Yokohama did manage to level things in the top of the seventh with Matsuoka (4-0, 2.56) pitching when Yoshimura plated Ishikawa. 2-2.

Both sides sat down in order in the eighth, and Yokohama would have gotten the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth if not for an unluckily timed hit-and-run that resulted in a double-play enabled by Tanaka’s line-drive snag at second. It very nearly looked like Lim was going to give up his first earned run of the season, but good defense ended up overpowering bad home plate umpiring to keep things locked at two all.

And then you could just feel it coming. Just like a Phil Collins song. These things never used to happen. We used to hope it would happen, and there often was a chance that it would happen, but now the big difference is that it sometimes actually does.

D’Antona got things started with a nice little single to right. And then it was Guiel’s turn.

You’ve gotta give the guy his due. He doesn’t bat an eyelash when he’s made to ride the pine because the pitcher is a lefty, and he is slowly turning into one of those guys that you want to have at the plate with the game on the line. He’s showing himself to be a class act, and he deserves every ounce of the praise he’s been getting of late. And he’s been getting a lot of praise lately because he does stuff like this:

With a man on and the score tied 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth, he popped a pitch that was down in the zone into the stands in right-center.

4-2 birds. Game over.

Notes:

Aoki is now tied for the league lead with 43 walks. He’s still working out the WBC-induced kinks, but this new addition to his arsenal is definitely a welcome one. His OBP is a team-best .375.

Fukuchi went 2-4 with an RBI. D’Antona also had two hits.

Guiel went one for two with three RBIs (two of them off of his 14th home run of the season in the 9th) and also drew a walk.

Lim got the win for the Swallows, his third of the season. His ERA is still 0.00 through 33 appearances.

Game two of the series will be tomorrow at Jingu. The game starts at 6pm. Due to Yomiuri’s 12th-inning win over Hanshin at Koshien, the Swallows are still 4.5 games back in the Central.

About Christopher Pellegrini

Christopher is a budding sabermetrician and long-time supporter of Tokyo's more lovable team, the Swallows. He has publicly volunteered, several times, that he plans to buy the team at some point in the future. When he finally runs the joint, it is likely that he will fine any player who swings at the first pitch or sac bunts (unless it's a pitcher, of course). Follow him on Twitter: @chrispellegrini

  • I’m visiting Japan from the United States, and I attended this game. Yesterday, I went to a Giants game (Giants vs. Bay Stars) and it paled in comparison to the Swallows game. The opposing team was crammed into two sections, while two others were reserved as “family” sections where guards constantly came by and told fans to quiet down (I’m sure you know). Then, I went to the Swallows game today, and a completely different atmosphere. You could tell the Swallows fans were die hard, while the Giants fans seemed pretty bandwagon-y. The stadiums was outdoors, and it felt like it was in touch with the people attending the game. Even the fans sitting in front of the diehard fans (lower bleachers) were getting into it, along with the fans from the infield. You could feel the intensity mounting with each inning, especially when the Bay Stars were loading bases. And then, it all ended when a home run flew right over my head and into the heart of the die hard fans. Everyone stayed behind, chanted, the manager and Guiel threw balls into the stands, and one man was nice enough to give me a free umbrella so I could participate in the “we just scored” chant. All of this, and I don’t even know a lick of Japanese.

    Your site was very helpful in helping me get to the game. If you saw the guy there in the purple NBA jersey, that was me.

    But anyway, to conclude, the game was awesome, and unless I go to another game and something just completely BLOWS me away, the Swallows are definately my favourite team, and I’m even considering coming back for later games (okay, I know that sounds arrogant, but this is my first time in Tokyo, so there’s a lot of things to do during my two week stay.)

    Oh, and if you know where to get a Swallows hat, let me know. I checked all of the kiosks around the stadium and none of them had one.

    Thanks, and again, great game!
    -Zeb

    • Zeb,
      We’re glad to hear that you had such a good time at the game. We occasionally still go to the dome for games, but we know what you mean about the atmosphere.

      I noticed the same thing about the hats. Leave it to the Tokyo vendors to run out of something as important as baseball caps at a baseball stadium! One place that still has a few left is the vendor that is tucked under the eave of the stadium between gates four/five and the fanclub ticket window. They don’t have a wide selection at the moment, but they have a few (including that number with the YS logo that lights up).

      Thanks for stopping by to let us hear about your experience!

    • Hi Zeb

      As Chris said, we’re glad you had a great time, and glad that this site proved useful for you. It is, after all, the reason we started Tsubamegun, to spread the word of the TYS.

      As you can now understand, there is that special “something” that Jingu and the Swallows have. That special something that has led to us becoming addicted and racking up hundreds of games over the years.

      Not to mention putting hundreds of hours into maintaining this place. But nights like last night make it all worthwhile.

      Thanks for making contact!