7/12/09 – Yokohama (Home)

July 12th, 2009

Tokyo Yakult Swallows cap

Yokohama BayStars 2

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 1

Streak: Lost 2  Last 5: WWWLL

(Meiji Jingu Stadium)

Yokohama’s role over the past couple of seasons has been to boost the win percentages of their opponents. Opponents other than Tokyo, of course, for whom the BayStars save their wins – seven of them to the Swallows’ two coming into this game. The BayStars had it all over our guys in the first nine meetings – 83 hits with eight HR for a .281 team batting average to Tokyo’s 61 hits with five HR and .215 average, a 2.48 team ERA to the birds’ 4.79, and outscoring the Swallows 41 to 22.  Yet, Yokohama remained firmly in last place in the CL, sporting a dismal .338 win percentage – by far the lowest in NPB.

Today’s afternoon match-up – one of only two at Jingu this season – was vital to the pride of both teams. Importantly for Tokyo, too, the hot Chunich Dragons were nipping at the Swallows’ second-place heels, with one game separating the two teams.

The Crown Prince and Princess were in attendance with young Princess Aiko – we hope their beer came from the ever-reliable Beer Prince, but have the feeling they did what we tend to do and smuggled their own in. In a pauwlonia cooler carried by an attendant, of course!

You’ll find no lese majeste here.

As it turned out, though, it was another non-shocker. Another loss to Yokohama, of all teams.

For your reading pleasure, a quasi-live-blogging of the game:

Today’s starting line-ups were:

  • The Plucky Bad Guys from Yokohama
    P: Yuji Yoshimi (1-0, 2.73, that’s 1-0, 3.38 vs. Tokyo)
    1. Yoshimura (RF)
    2. Nishi (2B)
    3. Uchikawa (LF)
    4. Murata (3B)
    5. Saeki (1B)
    6. Kinjo (CF)
    7. Ishikawa (SS)
    8. Hosoyamada (C)
    9. Yoshimi (P)
  • The Good Guys
    P: Masanori Ishikawa (7-5, 4.36)
    1. Aoki (CF)
    2. Tanaka (2B)
    3. Fukuchi (LF)
    4. D’Antona (1B)
    5. Guiel (RF)
    6. Miyamoto (3B)
    7. Aikawa (C)
    8. Kawashima (SS)
    9. Ishikawa (P)

In a nice, confidence building start for Tokyo, after Ishikawa started the game by walking Yoshimura, Seiichi Uchikawa hit into a double play.  Aoki led off with a hit to right field, was driven to second by a Tanaka sac bunt (yes, in the first inning with the score tied at zero, just in case you forgot you were in Takada-land), and to third by a Fukuchi single. Fukuchi stole second before D’Antona and Guiel added outs to Tanaka’s to end the first inning.  Two men stranded in scoring position right off the bat – would have been nice to have had three outs instead of two, perhaps.

Three up, three down for the BayStars in the top of the second brought Miyamoto up for Tokyo.  He doubled, to be driven in by Keizo, whose hit was sandwiched by outs from the battery, followed by an Aoki ground out.  1-0 Tokyo.

Yokohama answered with their first hit of the game – a centerfield single by Ishikawa (off of Ishikawa), which was followed by Hosoyamada doing the same, before Yoshimi, Yoshimura, and Nishi obliged by getting out. Unfortunately, Tanaka, Fukuchi, and D’Antona went the same way.

Uchikawa got Yokohama started again with a double off the fence, but was eventually left stranded on third after successive outs by Murata, Saeki, and Kinjo.  Again, Tokyo followed suit with a Guiel ground out followed by a Miyamoto single and Aikawa hitting into a double play.

Yokohama’s Ishikawa again got the better of Tokyo’s Ishikawa by singling in the top of the fifth, only to be left on base by the next three BayStar batters.  Noticing a pattern yet?

After an out by Keizo, Ishikawa got a hit! A line drive to center.

Come on,  give the man a hand – giving up a mere two hits while getting one of your own (as of the 5th inning) is a good day for a pitcher.

Ishikawa was quickly brought around to third by a Tanaka double after an Aoki out. Men on 2nd and 3rd, Fukuchi up. . . strike out.  Like I said, patterns.

Nishi and Uchikawa popped out, Murata walked, then Saeki went down to end the inning for Yokohama.  The game remained close, though, as D’Antona grounded out to short, before Guiel and Miyamoto provided some symmetry by flying out to left and right, respectively.

Kinjo, Ishikawa, and Hosoyamada grounded out left side, right side, left side to make sure Tokyo could back up to bat as soon as possible. While they usually don’t know their place, those fellows from Yokohama will sure give an opponent a fair shot at a win.

Aikawa popped out, Keizo hit a line-drive single to right, and Yasushi Iihara came in to pinch hit for Ishikawa, who left the game having given up 2 hits, 3 walks, and no runs.  Iihara doubled on a hit and run, getting Keizo out at third (oops), bringing Norichika Aoki, the man we’re all afraid to love lest he leave us like the men we’ve loved before. (We believe you’ll back some day, Aki. Rami-chan, baby, we don’t really blame you. Atsunori. . ., well screw you, you made a lateral move by choice. We take the piss out of people who wear your old jerseys because they’re chumps. And the bounce? I can’t say anything about it without sounding unintentionally homophobic, but let’s just say I would welcome my hypothetical son’s hypothetical boyfriend to dinner, whereas I prohibit bouncing in my house, even during the WBC.)

Oh, Aoki? He grounded out to second.

I told you: patterns.Igarashi Araki Conference

The hot Ryota Igarashi – and if you ask the ladies of Jingu, he’s hot in both ways – came in in the top of the eighth to face Yokohama pinch-hitter Shimozono, whom he struck out only to walk Yoshimura, have Johnson, who replaced Nishi, fly out, then walk Uchikawa, give up a double to Murata, driving in Yoshimura, and walk Saeki, thus loading the bases with two outs and the score 1-1.

Thankfully, Kinjo played a dependable part and flied out to left, bring up Hiroyasu “Beavis” Tanaka for the Swallows.

Atsushi Kizuka (2.63) came in in relief for Yokohama in the bottom of the eighth and Fujita came in at second base.

Patterns. It was the left side this time as Tanaka grounded out to the left side, followed by a Fukuchi pop out to left. D’Antona then struck out to bring us to the top of the ninth in yet another nailbiter with a team might as well stay at home against any opponent other than Tokyo.

To handle this threat, Tokyo brought in Lim Chan-Yong (0.00), who gave Takehiro Ishikawa a double to left, his third hit of the day – Yokohama’s fourth.

No longer 0.00

No longer 0.00

Hosoyamada and Fujita then both did well for the BayStars, hitting to the right side to push Ishikawa to third so Yoshimura could hit a fly to left, giving Ishikawa enough time to tag up and run in. 2-1 Yokohama.

Significantly, and symbolically of Tokyo’s relationship with Yokohama, that was Lim’s first earned run of the season. Nevertheless, we salute you, Chang-Yong.

Bottom of the ninth, Kosuke Kato (3.38) in for the BayStars.  Guiel gets out by not having a tag made at first base. Even Takada protests. Just what the Swallows need, their own hoodoo compounded by official incompetence. (It takes a lot for Takada to stick up for one of his guys.)

Calls never get overturned, though, so Miyamoto comes into the box with one out. He grounds out to the right side. Takeuchi then strikes out to end the game. 2-1 Yokohama.

All in all, a quick with, of course, the maddening result that Yokohama comes off of losses to the Invalid Ladies’s Knitting Circle for Nonagenarians only to beat the Swallows again. As the kids say, “WTF?”

A number of strandings, an unusually shaking outing from Igarashi and a shocking winning run given up by Lim of all people. And this after Ishikawa returns to form.