8/27/09 – Hiroshima (Away)

August 27th, 2009

Hiroshima Carp logoTokyo Yakult Swallows cap

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 6

Hiroshima Toyo Carp 7

Streak: Lost 2     Last : LLWLL

(Mazda Stadium)

Oh dear. Things are not going well at the moment. At. all.

Just like the Carp did the night before, Tokyo found themselves with a 6-0 lead at the end of their 2nd inning of play. But unlike the prior game, the Carp didn’t just roll over like the Swallows had done, they got stuck in and turned the game around. With a little theatrical help from their manager to boot.

Tonight’s lineup for your Tokyo Yakult Swallows:

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

Muranaka started for Tokyo, coming into the game with a dismal 0-4/8.06 record in his 5 starts since returning to the rotation. And it looked as though he may get a real shot at winning his first game of the season, not to mention the Swallows first series win of the month as Tokyo took a big early lead.

In the 1st inning the Swallows faced Carp starter Saitoh, and a two out walk and error allowed two men on base before Ihara hit his 4th homer of the year, this one deep to centre and it was 3-0 Tokyo. Consecutive singles from Miyamoto, Tanaka and Aikawa then added another run and it was 4-0.

Muranaka gave up a walk and a single in the bottom of the 1st, but got out of the inning unscathed. Then in the top of the 2nd, Saitoh was replaced by Hasegawa but the change made little difference, with a Keizo single and an Aoki homer to right (no.12 for the season) extending the lead to 6-0 Tokyo.

The stage looked set for the ever-nervous looking Muranaka to build a bit of confidence for himself with a big lead to work with, but it wasn’t to be. A leadoff homer from Hirose made it 6-1 before two more hits yielded another run putting a man on second with two outs and the score now at 6-2. Now I can only assume that given Muranaka’s tendency for throwing batting practice for teams this season, he was on a very short leash tonight. Thus Takada had obviously seen enough and called for Kida from the bullpen (double switch with Takeuchi replacing Hatakeyama at first). Muranaka had worked 1 and 2/3 innings giving up two runs off four hits.

Now last night, having given up 6 runs in the first 2 innings, Ryo Kawashima was left in the game for another two innings (he ended up with 9 earned runs for his efforts). Surely Muranaka deserved a little more time tonight? For a pitcher low on confidence surely this was the ideal chance to give him a run-out with a lead to fall back on, even taking into account as bad as he’s been this year? Surely it wouldn’t have worked out any worse than what eventually transpired anyway? Maybe I should try sniffing glue and I may be able to better grasp the enigma that is Takada-logic.

Kida showed his manager’s genius by hitting the first man he faced with his first pitch, but he did get the final out with the lead intact at four.

Tokyo managed two hits off Hasegawa in the top of the 3rd but couldn’t bring anyone home to extend the lead. Kida  (5.72) then gave up two runs off four hits in the bottom of the inning and things were getting tighter at 6-4.

From then on four Hiroshima arms shut down the Tokyo bats, allowing just two more hits over the distance. So it was a case of if Tokyo’s weary bullpen could protect that two run lead, and for a while it looked like they might just manage it.

Oshimoto (2.68) pitched excellent scoreless 4th and 5th innings before Matsuoka came in for the 6th. He had a 1-2-3 inning before taking the mound in the 7th, when things started to go awry. Things started with Kurihara hitting a one out single. McClain was then chucked out of the game halfway though his at bat for questioning a called strike, his incensed reaction prompted manager Marty Brown to get himself chucked out of the game too, after which he took off his shoes and placed them behind home plate before placing his cap neatly on top to the bemusement of everyone in the stadium. But as an act of trying to gee up his team and the crowd it worked, 100%. As the homeplate umpire took to the mic to announce the dismissal of McClain and Brown he could barely be heard above the jeering crowd. And you just knew what was coming next……

After that drama a single and a wild pitch put the tying runs in scoring positions with just one out, Hirose then hit one to the leftfield wall for a double and it was 6-6. But they weren’t done yet. Kokubo singled and it was 7-6 Hiroshima, the shortstop advancing to second on the throw home. And it could have got even worse, with Shima singling to centre, but Aoki managed to throw Kokubo out at home for out number two. Matsuoka (3.10) was then replaced by Lee after giving up three runs off five hits and making 46 pitches. Lee (3.58) got the final out of the inning and also worked a scoreless 8th.

With Hiroshima’s ace set-up man Yokoyama and closer Nagakawa working the 8th and 9th innings respectively that was that, 7-6 Final.

Tokyo were outhit 15 to 10 as they blew the chance of a long overdue series win. Takada’s use of pitchers was once again questionable to say the least (turning to the bullpen after less than two innings with a four run lead, the overworked Matsuoka in his 46th appearance of the year working two innings and ultmately taking the loss) and for that I’m going to raise the Takada count:

TAKADA COUNT: 8

From here things look to go downhill even further as Tokyo entertain the Chunichi Dragons at Jingu from tomorrow. Can my soul take it I wonder? Well I’ll be there to find out!

About David Watkins

David is a baseball bothering Brummie who spends a fair portion of his life fretting over the Tokyo Swallows and the WORLD'S GREATEST FOOTBALL TEAM, Aston Villa. He completes the quartet of abusive sporting relationships by being a die hard New York Knicks and Mets fan. You can find him on twitter: @yakulto

  • zunlin

    That whas AWFUL..
    Another Takada count for sure.Even if i don’t like his pitching this year,Muranaka deserved more than 1 2/3… and use Matsuoka for more than 1 inn… bah! (Lee on 6th and Matsuoka on 7th was easy for everyone but not for Mr Takada probably)
    A question : wasn’t today the day to use Yuuki?

    I’m glad about some good things at bat, especially Aikawa who has started to hit again.

  • Mac

    Oh no.

    Oh God no.

    No.

    I watched the first three innings of this in the pub with a mate who is a Dragons fan (who I am heading to the game with tonight – we are sitting in “neutral terriotory” behind home plate as a result). I had to head elsewhere after that. Thank f–k. (Pardon the language).

    It is getting to the point where you couldn’t even make this stuff up.

    Can our souls take it? Probably not, but two beers an innings might help… 🙂

    • It is getting to the point where you couldn’t even make this stuff up.

      It does seem to be turning into some kind of tragic joke at our expense.

      two beers an innings might help…

      That’s going to be my strategy too I think.

  • Rob

    I’m okay with Muranaka getting yanked quickly. The offense shows up for a change and gives him a 4-0 lead before he throws his first pitch, and what does he do? Walks their leadoff guy on four pitches. Dang.
    He was behind in the count with eight of ten batters he faced. He didn’t have it and didn’t show any sign he might find it. He shouldn’t have been the starter to begin with, and he shouldn’t be with the ichigun. Same with Ryo. (Not sure why Ryo got so much time to dig himself a hole Wednesday.)

    If we have a potentially viable five-man rotation of Tateyama, Ishikawa, Yoshinori, Yuuki, and Player X (Muranaka or Takagi or Ryo or my grandmother), why do we use two Player Xs?

    I like the two-beers-an-inning plan! Tell the vendor to just sit down and keep’em coming. Will try that tonight.

    • I can see why he was yanked. And as you say he probably shouldn’t have been starting in the first place. But if you are going to start him, and he stumbles upon a big lead before he’s even thrown a pitch, then give him more than 1 and 2/3 innings, even if it’s only getting out of the 2nd.

      And with the backup plan being the equally unreliable Kida, it seemed to me to be a six-of-one-half-a-dozen-of-the-other kind of situation. In which case why not leave him in a little longer?

      Maybe as a marketing campaign they could put the “Player-X” slot open to randomly drawn members of the fanclub? They’d do as good a job as Ryo/Ichiba/Muranaka/your grandmother.

      Anyway, this is all probably a ploy to drive up beer sales in the stadium , as we all drown our collective sorrows.

      • Rob

        Sorry – just a little cranky. Getting beaten is disappointing, but when so much of the damage seems self-inflicted I get crankier. “Fire them all! No, wait, there’s no one left.”

        I like the Randomly-Selected-Fan-Club-Member-Starts-Tonight idea! Or if the kid throwing out the first pitch gets it over the plate we could just suit him up and tell him to stay out there.

      • No need to be sorry Rob! Crankiness is fully embraced on this site! (it does house Garrett after all…..)

        As I said, I can totally see your point. It’s just the Takada-logic thing again. Why give Ryo a shovel to dig his hole one night and then only allow Muranaka a spoon the next?

        Anyhoo, tonight is down as Yuki vs Asakura so they can hold off on the Player-X lottery for tonight at least.

    • flick

      How about Lee as Player X? He was called over here as a starter in the first place, and it seems he has gotten pretty used to Japanese baseball.

      • Rob

        Seconded! I’d like to see Lee start. (Sorry, grandma!)
        That might leave us short on lefty relief, but Barrett might be able to spot. Where is Takai? Hurt also?

        Christopher P – Yeah, what’s up with all the injured pitchers? Hellooo, conditioning staff? Trainers?

  • David, you watch a lot of Swallows games, you pay attention to them, you analyze them afterwards, and, most of all, you care whether the team wins or loses.

    All of those are impediments to understanding Takada logic.

  • If we have a potentially viable five-man rotation of Tateyama, Ishikawa, Yoshinori, Yuuki, and Player X (Muranaka or Takagi or Ryo or my grandmother), why do we use two Player Xs?

    Excellent question. If the manager sees fit to remove someone (Muranaka) from the first team, then he probably needs to miss more than one start while readjusting.

    It seems that Takada is hell-bent on establishing his legacy as a developer of young/unexpected/forgotten talent. Wouldn’t be surprised if he privately takes credit for Darvish.

    And I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ichiba start a game in one of the next two series.

    At the same time, I’m not a big fan of sending arms to the farm because everyone seems to get injured down there.

    Katoh? Masubuchi? Injured. Those two were supposed to be working side-by-side with Yoshinori as the next generation of the starting rotation.

    Too bad their arms fell off in the process.

    Two beers per inning or one per baserunner. Sadly, they add up to be about the same.

  • Christopher

    Brown’s antics are no longer amusing and it’s sorry to see you guys suffering from them. I don’t even believe he’s actually angry and he’s just pulling the stunts to get his team fired up. It’s all rather pathetic and if your team is ‘re on the ball they actuall have very little effect except to engender a feeling of contempt for the Carp, but Swallows are faltering. This is kind of like the Tigers last season and you have to blame Takada for this. It is the job of the management team to keep the players focused and going forward.