7/31/09 — Chunichi (Home)

July 31st, 2009

Tokyo Yakult Swallows cap

Chunichi Dragons 2

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 3

Streak: Won 1    Last 5: WWLLW

(Jingu Stadium)

Tateyama tallied his second win of the month at home versus the Dragons, and the birds snapped a two-game losing streak thanks to some good fielding and clutch hitting.

Tateyama appears to have found a little bit of a groove.

Tonight’s starting lineup:

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

Yes, you read that correctly. Aoki was in left for the first time this season (since the WBC, at least), and Fukuchi moved over to center. Replacing the veteran, Miyamoto, at third was plus-sized utility man, Hatakeyama.

Tateyama (12-2, 2.96) kept the Chunichi bats quiet for the first six innings of the game. Not only that, but he took Tony Blanco out of the game with a well-placed bean-ball in the fourth inning.

Meanwhile, the home side was able to squeak three runs up on the board. The first run came when D’Antona Hatakeyama sealed the win in the bottom of the sixth.singled to bring Aoki home from third. The second and third runs came with two out in the sixth. Tanaka and Guiel reached base on a single and a walk, respectively, and they moved over to second and third on a pair of wild pitches by Chunichi starter, Yoshimi. Hatakeyama, 0-2 at that point in the game, came up and lined one hard into left-center. Both Tanaka and Guiel scored to make it 3-0 Tokyo.

But things would get a bit hairy in the top of the seventh with Tateyama still on the mound. The first and second batters of the inning, Wada and Fujii, singled to put two men on with no outs. They both reached home on Tanishige (single) and Tatsunami (superb diving play by Tanaka to record the groundout) connections to make it 3-2 Tokyo.

And Tateyama would return for the eighth as well. He ended his evening, and secured a spot on the hero interview platform, by retiring all three batters he faced.

The top of the ninth was interesting.

Lim came on to protect the one run lead, and he promptly got Wada to ground out to second. But Fujii made it to first on a little bit of an Aikawa fumble that was ruled a hit. Fujii then proceeded to attempt a steal of second base which looked, from Keizo Kawashima’s vantage point at least (he was the guy applying the tag at second, after all), like he was clearly out. Honda, the second base umpire, disagreed, and Kawashima very clearly voiced his despleasure (as did just about everyone in the right half of the stadium).

The uncharacteristic outburst from our shortstop triggered an equally uncharacteristic reaction from our stoic manager, Shigeru Takada. He left the dugout for the first time this season.

Aoki can get plunked nine times in four games and Takada won’t move. But if a fellow Nippon Hammy (ie. Keizo) is pissed off about something, then by golly it’s time to get out there and set things straight!

All the arguing chatting went for naught, of course, and the runner remained on second base. Then, with things looking a little hairy for Tokyo, Tanaka made his second huge save in as many innings to further pinch the Chunichi offense. With two out and Fujii on second, Lim struck Tanishige out to end the game, earn his 23rd save of the season, and safeguard Tateyama’s 12th win.

Tateyama gave up two earned runs off of six hits, five strikeouts, one walk, and a single beaning. He threw 111 pitches in his eight innings of work.

Jamie D’Antona was the most consistent performer on offense for the birds. He went 3-4 with one rbi. The only other bird to reach base twice was Aoki with a single and a walk.

With first place Yomiuri’s loss to fifth place Hanshin, Tokyo gained a game on both Chunichi and the orange idiots. Game two of the series is tomorrow night at 6pm.

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