8/4/09 — Yokohama (Away)

August 4th, 2009

Tokyo Yakult Swallows cap

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 5

Yokohama BayStars 4

Streak: Won 1  Last 5: LWWLW

(Yokohama Stadium)

After losing a close, extra-innings game against the Dragons on Sunday, the birds headed south a few miles to take on the cellar-dwelling Yokohama. The Swallows hoped to replicate last season’s second-half resurgence against the pesky Baystars, a team that Tokyo has won only two of its ten games against so far this season.

Ishikawa started the game in search of his 10th win of the season.

Tokyo’s lineup:

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

Tokyo once again got off to a quick start and scored a pair in the top of the first inning. Aoki’s infield single was followed by the obligatory Tanaka bunt. With one out and Aoki on second, Fukuchi poked one up the middle that brought Aoki home. Fukuchi would later score on a two-out single to right by Guiel to make it 2-0 Tokyo.

Yokohama starter, Terahara, became a different pitcher after that, however. He made it through the next three innings in perfect fashion. In fact, it would have been four innings if not for Ishikawa’s weak little two-out infield single that temporarily broke the streak.

Yokohama crawled back into it bit by bit. The first run was in the bottom of the second when Kinjoh’s bloop single just stayed inside the line in left. 2-1 Swallows.

Then the Swallows had to survive a very hairy fourth inning. Fujita led off with his second hit of the game, and that was followed by a Takeyama grounder to first that took a bad hop off the carpet and ricocheted off of D’Antona. He was unfairly charged with an error on the play, but he didn’t help his own cause because he sulked a little too long before remembering to cover first. This may have helped cause the ensuing throwing error by Tanaka to whom the ball had just bounced to.

Tanaka’s throw went a bit too far to D’Antona’s right, so he wasn’t able to reach out for it with the runner reaching the bag at the same time. Two errors on the same play.

The tying run scored on the next play when Terahara spiked on into the ground and it bounced over the drawn-in Miyamoto at third.

Tokyo was lucky to make it out of the inning without incurring any further damage. With no outs and men on first and second, Kinjoh sacrifice bunted to move the runners over. One out with runners on second and third.

Nishi then grounded one directly at D’Antona who gloved it easily and threw home to nail the hard-charging Tanaka smacks an rbi single in the top of the 7th inning.Takeyama for out number two. Then, with runners on the corners, Uchikawa drilled one straight at Miyamoto’s left knee to end the inning.

Tokyo reclaimed the lead in the top of the seventh after Kawashima reached base on a single and then Ishikawa bunted him over to second. Aoki then grounded out to short but moved Kawashima over to third in the process. Tanaka then came up with an rbi single to center to make it 3-2 Tokyo.

But Yokohama leveled it again in the bottom of that inning on a Kinjoh solo home run. 3-3.

To the visitors’ relief, things see-sawed again in the top of the eighth when D’Antona started the inning for the Swallows. He had struggled all game against Terahara and his outside sliders, but this time he cranked the first one he saw into the right field bleachers to make it 4-3.

Ishikawa (9-5; 3.66 ERA) ended up lasting 7 1/3, but he didn’t factor in the decision. He gave up two earned runs off of eight hits while striking out six and walking one. The recent trend of starters lasting into the seventh and eighth innings is very encouraging. Hopefully it continues.

Matsuoka (2.58) finished up the seventh for him on six pitches to safeguard the win for the starter.

With a one run lead, Lim came in to pitch the ninth and go for his 25th save of the season, but it wasn’t meant to be. He gave up a solo home run to Morikasa to tie the game up at four all.

The next batter he faced hit a double. Lim then intentionally walked Kinjoh (a stupid idea, by the way) to put runners on first and second with no outs. Ishikawa came in to pinch hit for Nishi, and after faking a sacrifice bunt, he was able to move the runners over a grounder to first.

But then Takada had Lim intentionally walk Uchikawa to get to Murata. Two intentional walks in the same inning meant that the bases were loaded and it was Murata’s game to win with a long fly ball.

Aikawa doubled in the winning run in the 10th.Unfortunately for the home fans, however, Murata’s fly ball was a little too high and a little too short as it gave Aoki a ton of time to line it up in shallow left. Yokohama decided to check his arm anyway and sent Shimozono barreling towards home. Shimozono lost. Double play. Game tied 4-4.

The Swallows weren’t able to get anything going in the top of the 10th off of Kudoh. Two quick outs made it look like the game was going to go at least an extra frame. But then Yokohama pulled Kudoh in favor of Kizuka, the side-armed righty with the goofy pre-toss routine from Saitama.

Miyamoto set the table with a single past Murata and then Aikawa hit one within inches of leaving the park in left to score Miyamoto from first. 5-4 Tokyo.

Igarashi (2.90) came in to pitch the bottom of the tenth and retired the three batters he faced on 13 pitches. He ended up with his second save of the season as Tokyo managed to keep the pressure on Yokohama throughout the game.

Lim ended up getting the win despite giving up the tieing run in the bottom of the ninth. It was only his second earned run allowed this season, but his record still improved to 4-1 with 24 saves. His ERA, on the other hand, nearly doubled to 0.42.

Tanaka, Fukuchi and Miyamoto all had multi-hit games with Miyamoto reaching base three times care of a walk.

D’Antona had his 19th home run of the season in the eighth, and Guiel also reached base twice in this game. Guiel had a couple of good at-bats against Terahara who really had his slider working until he got tired during the seventh and eighth innings.

So that was only the third win of the season for the Swallows over the Baystars. It was nice to see that the team could keep putting together runs even after Yokohama kept coming back over and over again. This was actually a pretty exciting game to watch!

Game two of the series is tomorrow night at Yokohama stadium with the start time scheduled for 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