8/14/09 — Chunichi (Away)

August 14th, 2009

Tokyo Yakult Swallows cap

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 1

Chunichi Dragons 12

Streak: Lost 3    Last 5: LWLLL

(Nagoya Dome)

The listless Swallows ventured to Nagoya, still reeling from last night’s whupping by the Yokohama BayStars. And to add one more item to the list of things that are not working in Tokyo’s favor, Chunichi has won seven of its last 10 games.

Oh, and Muranaka was pitching again.

Muranaka lasted two innings this time.

Here’s a look at the Tokyo starting lineup:

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

Nobody really had a stellar night at the plate with only Hatakeyama recording an RBI on a solo home run in the second inning. That home run, incidentally, would end up being the only time the Swallows scored in this game.

So this ended up being a very nasty repeat of last night’s game versus Yokohama. Only the first four guys in our batting order got a hit–none of our bottom-half guys ever reached base although Miyamoto and Aikawa were subbed out rather quickly in this game.

Things started very badly with Muranaka, and they never got better. Muranaka lasted a mere two innings during which time he threw 79 pitches. He walked four, gave up seven hits and allowed six earned runs while watching his record sink to 0-4 and his ERA balloon to 8.06.

So the big question now is whether Muranaka will get dropped, or if Takada will keep plugging away with him. I would personally like to see him regain some confidence while being used as a middle reliever, but Takada will probably just punish him by sending him down to the farm.

Here’s a look at the pitching that we were treated to yesterday:

Inning(s) – Pitcher – (ERA) – earned runs

1-2                Muranaka (8.06) 6
3-4                Matsui (4.50) 1
5-7                Barrett (7.15) 4
8                    Oshimoto (2.92)

So yeah, it wasn’t good. Morino had a particularly enjoyable day against our pitchers going 3-4 with four RBIs and a walk.

And, again, we’re not getting more than one guy on base at a time against good pitching these days.

The team has no direction at the moment. Our pitching rotation is suddenly in shambles (Tateyama and Ryo Kawashima are on the farm team right now), and that leaves us with a rotation like this:

1. Yoshinori
2. Ishikawa
3. Yuki
4. Ichiba
5. Muranaka

Yikes. That doesn’t inspire people. Yoshinori is improving, and Yuki has been trending upward as of late, too. Ishikawa can get you seven innings and will win with run support, but Ichiba and Muranaka (and anyone else that catches Takada’s eye) are a bit scary at this point.

Notice that Matsui and Barrett had just been called up from the farm team before this game. Matsui gave up a run with two outs in the third, but he settled down thereafter and retired the last four batters he faced.

Barrett, on the other hand, gave up at least one earned run in all three of the innings that he pitched. His pitch count, 80, gives you an idea of how many batters he faced during that time. He gave up seven hits, struck out two, and walked two.

The silver lining is that all these successive losses translate into rest time for Matsuoka, Igarashi, and Lim.

If and when the team gets back on track, and that’s looking like a very big ‘if’ at this point, our closing trio should be ready to handle the burden of protecting leads once again.

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