8/1/09 — Chunichi (Home)

August 1st, 2009

Tokyo Yakult Swallows cap

Chunichi Dragons 2

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 4

Streak: Won 2    Last 5: WLLWW

(Jingu Stadium)

Well, Tokyo pulled off the unpredictable today by taking the series versus Chunichi with its second win in as many days.

D'Antona did it again.

Tokyo’s lineup:

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

Yuuki (3-2, 4.04) was actually having a better-than-average start (one earned run off of only three hits; four strikeouts and no walks) until he plunked Tanishige in the head in the fifth inning. Oh well.

The big story of the game, for all intents and purposes, was Jamie D’Antona. He again had three hits and came through with the game-winning home run in the bottom of the eighth.

Tokyo got on the board first when Aoki reached on an error by Morino at third, and then he got moved over by yet another first inning Tanaka bunt. Fukuchi moved Aoki over to third with a single, and then D’Antona came through for the first time with a sac fly to deep right field. 1-0 Tokyo.

Another bunt in the second (this time by Yuuki) put men on second and third, but Yuuki’s out was the second of the inning, so that was the end of that.

Morino would later plate Araki in the top of the fourth to pull the Dragons even at one all.

After Yuuki got ejected with two out in the fifth, Hagiwara (3.60) was called in to mop up, and he did pretty well. He finished out the fifth, and also handled the sixth, without another run scoring.

Things got a bit dicey for Matsuoka (2.70) in the seventh, however. Partly due to an errant Matsuoka throw to first on a bunt by Fujii, the bases ended up getting loaded with only one out recorded. But the Tokyo pitcher got 22-year veteran, Tatsunami, to ground into a 6-4-3 double play. Nice nice!

But things got a bit grim after that–with Igarashi (3.05) on the mound and one out on the board, Araki roped one over the leftfield wall. Oops. 2-1 Chunichi.

But Aoki retaliated by cranking the first pitch he saw over Wada’s head in left to set the plate for the Swallows offense. With Aoki perched on second, Tanaka laid down his second bunt of the game and Aoki moved over to third. This was one of those lucky bunts though where the defense tries and fails at getting the lead runner and then is late on the throw to first. All runners safe, and things suddenly look very, very bad for the Dragons.

Aoki then scored on a Fukuchi ground ball to second to tie the game at 2-2.

And with Tanaka standing on second base, Jamie D’Antona came to the plate.

BANG! Home run number 18 sails over the fence in right, and the masses go crazy. 4-2 birds. Jamie’s batting average (not that it’s really such an important state, but anyway) reached .300 for the first time since the beginning of the season.

And that was how it ended. Lim (0.22) came in to pitch the ninth and seal his 24th save of the season. Igarashi ended up getting the win despite giving up that homer to Araki.

The Tokyo batters were better at taking a pitch in the first two games of this series. I was really frustrated with them during the Hiroshima series when they were hacking away at a lot of the first pitches that Colby Lewis and co. were throwing. To be fair, Lewis throws an awful lot of first pitch strikes (tonight’s starter, Ogasawara, did not), but there’s definitely something to be said for ballooning a hurler’s pitch count as much as possible in the early innings. The Swallows have been more patient in this series.

The series ends tomorrow night at Jingu with game three. The game starts at 6pm.

The Swallows are now just a single game behind second place Chunichi, and 3.5 games behind Central League leaders, Yomiuri.

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

  • Great result and performance.

    Tanaka is really on fire in the field, and without him the results these last two games could well have been different. He is a truly gifted fielder.

    Shame Yuki got himself ejected as he was having one of his better outings to that point. He didn’t really seems to hit Tanishige in the head, as Aikawa appeared to catch it before it made real contact. Thus I thought the decision was a little harsh.

    With Miyamoto out of the team via injury, Hatakeyama has proved himself a very able third baseman in addition to his talents with the bat.

    Oh, and of course D’Antona is turning into one NPB’s signings of the year. The man is a true clutch hitter, as well as, as many visitors to this site have reported, “the nicest man in baseball”.

    Very exiting times, and just a shame I’ll be leaving the country for two weeks!!

    August will be a huge month for Tokyo, with two series against the Giants, and two against the Dragons (not including this one) both home and away. Throw in two series against Yakult’s improbable nemesis Yokohama and that means that after this month we’ll have a much better idea of the order that the CL’s top three may end up in October.

  • Tanaka is absolutely amazing going both left and right. He had another huge defensive play late in the game today.

    Now can someone please explain to me why the good people at Jingu don’t replay nice catches/defensive plays on the big screen? Why?!

    Well, I can’t complain too much, actually. They did finally ban those stupid balloons like we asked.

    Thank you good people at Jingu.

  • Karen

    Way to go Big Bubba!!! 300 keep going. we are so proud of you and what you have accomplished over in Tokyo…