9/15/09 — Yokohama (Away)

September 15th, 2009

Tokyo Yakult Swallows cap

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 5

Yokohama BayStars 6

Streak: Lost 9  Last 5: LLLLL

(Yokohama Stadium)

The last time the Swallows played the Baystars, the Stars whupped them 13-2. Carrying an eight game losing streak, the beleaguered fourth-place Swallows headed to Yokohama to play a team that has had their number all season long.

Takada inspires from the trenches.

Tokyo’s starting lineup:

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

The birds got on the board first in this game care of Kawashima’s grounder past short with one out in the first. He then stole second, and Aoki brought him home on a beautiful slice swing that ended up a single to shallow left. Nice wheels on Keizo, by the way. 1-0 Tokyo.

After Ishikawa’s perfect 11-pitch first, Noguchi led off the second with a double down the line in left. Despite a decent at-bat, next up Aikawa grounded out to third and Ishikawa struck out. Fukuchi, believe it or not, had himself a very nice at-bat against Mr. Miura with two outs and Noguchi still standing on second.

Even though he has one of the worst batting averages with runners in scoring position (.188), Fukuchi worked the count full by fouling off tons of cutters before finally bouncing one up the middle that scored Noguchi from second. 2-0 Tokyo.

A pitch-out when they knew that Fukuchi would be running didn’t work (Niinuma bounced it to second base), and it was Tokyo’s third stolen base of the game (Kawashima and Aoki stole second in the first).

Kawashima then came up with his second hit of the game, this one off of the wall in right-center, and pushed Fukuchi around from third. Kawashima ended up with a double, and the score was 3-0 Swallows.

And that was the third batter to reach second base that inning. If not for Sasaki’s (the ump) terrible called strike two, the two-out rally might have continued. Instead, Aoki broke his bat on a groundout to second for out number three.

Miura’s pitch count was 64 after only two innings.

In the bottom of the second, things got a little iffy. Ishikawa gave up a lead-off single to Johnson (Noguchi probably should have dove to his right rather than covering first, but hey), and then Saeki got hit on the arm in the middle of his swing. Ishikawa then threw a ball in the dirt that bounced before home plate and allowed both players to advance.

Ishikawa finally got out number one when Yoshimura struck out swinging. Yokohama’s Ishikawa then grounded out to short but Johnson was able to score in the process for 3-1 Tokyo. No more runs scored after that as Niinuma grounded out to short.

Guiel was the first man up for Tokyo in the top of the third, and he struck out swinging after drawing a walk in his first at-bat. Miyamoto followed that with a first-pitch double down the leftfield line. Tanaka struck out swinging, and after a near-miss on the leftfield line that would have been an rbi double, Noguchi struck out looking.

Miura’s pitch count after three innings was 83.

In his first (and only) at-bat of the game, Miura grounded out to first for out number one in the Baystars third. After striking out in his first at-bat, Kinjoh continued his season-long field-day against the Swallows (with a bit of help from the wind) by hitting one off the base of the wall in center-right for a stand-up double.

Ishikawa was fine until the seventh inning.Kinjoh was able to move over to third on Yamazaki’s grounder to second, and Uchikawa came to the plate with two outs. Uchikawa’s reaching defensive swing on an Ishikawa sinker lofted the ball high enough for Aoki to be able to get to it easily at the warning track to end the inning and get Ishikawa out of the inning.

Aikawa led off the top of the fourth with a pop fly that eventually landed just behind the pitcher’s mound for out number one. Miura then came up with a superb backhanded throw to disrupt Ishikawa’s infield single for out number two. Fukuchi’s next at-bat looked like a continuation of his last one as Miura continued to pound the inside of the plate with cutters, but this time Miura came out on top as Fukuchi swung feebly at a pitch on the outside corner of the plate for strike number three.

96 pitches for Miura so far.

After leading off the second with a base hit, Johnson began the fourth with a pop fly to Tanaka at second for the first out. Saeki followed with a ground ball to Tanaka for out number two. Yoshimura popped up to Aoki in center to end the inning.

Kawashima, who was 2-2 at the time, started things off for the Swallows with a grounder to second, and the Swallows finally benefited from a bit of luck when Aoki’s pop fly was met with a wind-aided error by Yokohama second baseman, Yamazaki. That put yet another runner on second for the birds, but Guiel struck out looking for out number two.

Miyamoto would notch his second double (this time resulting in an rbi) of the game with a long fly ball to the gap in left-center which would easily score Aoki from second. 4-1 Swallows.

Next man up, Tanaka, spun a Miura offering into the hole behind second base that Yamazaki very nearly got his glove on, but the result was another run for the Swallows, and yet another double to go with it. After five doubles, the score was 5-1 birds.

Miura was replaced after the fifth inning having already thrown 116 pitches and giving up five runs (three earned). It didn’t make a difference for the Baystars as Ishikawa pitched a second perfect inning in a row.

Ishikawa’s pitch count through five innings was 73. And you had to like his chances with a four run cushion and the door to the Yokohama bullpen already kicked open.

Could this be the birds’ first win of September?

Kuwahara came in to pitch the sixth for Yokohama, and Aikawa greeted him by smacking the second pitch he saw off the wall in center for Tokyo’s sixth double of the evening. But it would all go down the drain as Ishikawa’s tak bunt ended up getting Aikawa thrown out at third to remove the threat. Oops.

With one out and Ishikawa on first, Fukuchi popped up to short. Kawashima followed with a 3-1 groundout to end the inning.

In the bottom of the sixth, with the rain falling a little harder, Kinjoh started things off for the Stars with a solo homer to left. 5-2 Tokyo. How much does that guy love hitting against Ishikawa?

Yamazaki followed with a hard liner that fortunately headed straight for Fukuchi in left field. Uchikawa then swiped at a pitch he probably shouldn’t have for the second out, and Johnson made things interesting by drawing a well-deserved walk. But Noguchi made a nice diving save at first to snag a Saeki grounder to get Ishikawa out of the inning with only the one run surrendered.

With one out in the top of the seventh, Guiel drew his second walk of the game to set things up for Miyamoto. Miyamoto proceeded to collect his third hit of the game, this time a single, to put runners on first and second with one out.  Guiel was then able to move over to third on a Tanaka fly ball to deep right. But Noguchi also hit a fly ball to right to end the threat and strand both of the runners.

Yoshimura led off the Baystars seventh with his first hit of the game to put a runner on first with no outs. In the subsequent Ishikawa-Ishikawa matchup, a liner right back at the pitcher ended up hitting him on the wrist (glove hand), and while he was able to get the runner at first, there was a bit of a scare as he had to go get his hand examined by the trainer.

He eventually returned sans tape, and he got pinch-hitter, Kuwahara (not related to the previously mentioned relief pitcher), to ground out to third. However, a sac fly made the score 5-3 Swallows with two outs.

Ishikawa-killer, Kinjoh, then notched his third hit of the game, and second rbi, with another long hit, this time off the wall in right-center, to make it a very tight 5-4 Tokyo.

Yamazaki followed with an infield single to put runners on the corners with two outs.

Maybe it wasn’t such a great idea to leave Ishikawa in the game after he got hit by that line drive after all…?

Ishikawa pitched 6 2/3 and gave up five earned runs off of seven hits (one homer) while striking out three, walking and beaning one each, and tossing a single wild pitch for good measure. He didn’t factor in the decision, but his ERA grew to 3.75.

Yoshikawa (1.93) was called in to handle the mess with two outs. Uchikawa did what they pay him for, and he tied the game with a bouncer up the middle to tie the game at five all.

And with the left-handed Johnson at the plate, Yoshikawa was pulled in favor of Mr. Lee (3.19) who is a southpaw. With runners again on the corners, Johnson walked on five pitches. With the bases loaded, and Lee still pitching, Saeki mercifully grounded out to second to stop the bleeding and make sure that Ishikawa didn’t leave with a loss.

Aikawa started the Swallows eighth with a fly ball to center for the first out. Interestingly, right about now, at 8:45 PM, all three games in the Central League were tied up. The Tigers and Giants, and the Dragons and Carp, were both tied at three runs apiece.

Anyway, Takeuchi (pinch-hitting for Lee) struck out swinging after working the count full for the second out. Fukuchi grounded out weakly to second to end the inning.

Igarashi (2.77) came in to pitch the bottom of the eighth, his first appearance since coming back from that arm twinge he experienced back in August. Igarashi pitched a perfect inning which included two strikeouts.

With Yamaguchi on the mound for the Baystars in the ninth, Kawashima started things off for the birds by striking out swinging on a forkball. Aoki did the same on a slider. And Guiel also met the same fate chasing what I believe was a high fastball.

Matsuoka (4.39) appeared for the bottom of the ninth, and he started out by facing Yokohama’s catcher, Saito. Saito reached first on a safety bunt that spun just out of Matsuoka’s reach to get the nastiness started. Kinjoh and his three hits for the evening sac bunted for the first out. Saito reached second safely on the play. It then became first and third when Noguchi couldn’t handle Shimozono’s hot potato at first. The bases were juiced after Matsuoka intentionally walked Uchikawa.

With one out and the bases loaded, Johnson came to the plate. Just needing a sac fly, Johnson went one better and singled over the drawn-in infield to end the game in walk-off fashion and send Tokyo to it’s ninth loss in a row. 6-5 Yokohama.

Matsuoka took his fourth loss of the season and third of the last couple of weeks. He should not be used again until October methinks.

The march to force Takada out continues.

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

  • Jingu Bleacher Bum

    Okay guys, it’s time to hire a witch doctor to break this frakkin’ curse. How much can each of you give to buy the live chicken?

    Seriously though, ANOTHER 9th inning loss. How much more lower in the gutter do we Swallows fans have to sink, before we’re allowed to come up for a breath of air?

  • Wow. Just wow.

    It’s like watching variations of the same terrible game night after night.

    Isn’t it October yet……?

    If we keep going at this rate it’as quite feasible that Yokohama could run us close for 5th. And the sad thing is I’m not sure whether or not I’m joking there either.

  • That was the first time in 17 years that the team has lost nine straight.

    • And the 12 straight lost series is a team record so Takada’s creating all kinds of wonderful, wonderful history.

  • Almost like watching a plane crash.. someone stop the free fall please.

  • zunlin

    For the first time in the entire season Miura didn’t dominate us.But the same result occured,pity.

    Another illogical use of a rusted and very tired Matsuoka.
    IMHO another one to ad to Mr Takada count.

  • Rob

    Nice to get something back from Miura, but that may have been the only bright spot.

    Yeah, why Matsuoka? Why? What? Wha….

    Any thoughts on signing Kudoh? If all the kids get back from injuries, a little adult supervision would be nice, no? I wouldn’t want to pay a lot for him and he might be as semi-useful as Kida, but he’d be better than my grandmother.

  • I will do my best to help you guys beat the curse on Friday for a good rousing cheer of Kutabare Yomiuri. The Swallows are 6-2 in games I’ve attended at Jingu this year, which I know isn’t much, but that includes beating the Giants every time I was there… hope I see y’all in the stands!

    (but it would be nice if the Swallows bothered to, you know, win a game before Friday too…)