9/17/09 — Yokohama (Away)

September 16th, 2009

Tokyo Yakult Swallows cap

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 7

Yokohama BayStars 3

Streak: Won 2  Last 5: LLLWW

(Yokohama Stadium)

The Swallows won two games in a row for the first time since July 31st and August 1st when the team was playing the Dragons at home. Coincidentally, that was also the last time that the birds won a three game series.

It’s tempting to get all giddy, but we here at Tsubamegun advise caution. The back-to-back wins came against the worst team in NPB.

Six innings of shut out pitching.

Depressingly or refreshingly, I’m not sure which, this was the first time all season that we’ve won a series versus Yokohama.

Tonight’s starting lineup:

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

The main contrast with last night’s lineup is that Hatakeyama replaced Noguchi at first, and Guiel got dropped down the order to 6th from cleanup.

Tokyo got out of the blocks quickly in this game as well with three runs in the first. With a little help from Glynn, a Hatakeyama double, and a Miyamoto sac fly, the score was 3-0 birds.

Yuki started this one for Tokyo, and he had a solid outing. He lasted six innings and didn’t surrender any runs despite giving up nine hits. He also recorded five strikeouts and three walks, and his record and ERA improved to 4-5 and 3.42, respectively.

Tokyo scored another run in the fourth when Guiel, Tanaka, and Kawamoto drew back-to-back-to-back walks. The third one pushed Miyamoto, who had earlier singled, across home plate to make the score 4-0 Tokyo.

Unfortunately, three runners were stranded in that inning when Glynn retired the next three batters he faced.

Kawashima added a run in the top of the seventh with a one out home run to left (his 12th–triple the number he hit last season). 5-0 Tokyo.

The party was temporarily disrupted when Takada brought Matsuoka (4.89!) in to pitch the Miyamoto runs the show. bottom of the eighth (cue Stone Temple Pilots: “I’m half the man I used to be…”). It took only eight pitches for the supremely tuckered-out reliever to give up three runs, and this is the first of three reasons why the Takada Count is being raised for this game. The other two reason will be explained later. 5-3 Swallows.

And all across Tsubamegun Nation, that oh-so familiar feeling started sloshing around in people’s gullets.

But the yogurt penguins showed a bit of character and put a couple of insurance runs up on the board in the top of the ninth. Takeuchi’s lead-off double set things in motion, and Fukuchi’s single put runners on the corners. Kawashima grounded out, but D’Antona’s pinch hit single to left scored two, and a sizable cushion was restored. 7-3 Tokyo.

Despite the four run lead, Lim was brought in to pitch for the second night in a row. He pitched with a four run lead last night as well, a situation where many managers (and armchair pundits like myself) would use Yoshikawa, Matsui, or both.This is reason number two for bumping the Takada Count up.

My third justification for raising the Takada Count is closely related to the second. Igarashi, who also recently came back from an injury, was used in last night’s game in front of Lim. I was very tempted to raise the count yesterday because of the four run cushion, but I sympathized with the ‘desperation quotient’. Using Lim in two non-save situations in a row is borderline criminal considering that the team has a very important home series against the Giants that starts tomorrow.

And to return to Matsuoka, I should have raised the Takada Count on Tuesday, but I was waiting to hear a little more support for such a move. I now realize that I was wrong to be so objective. A quick look at Matsuoka’s results over the past three weeks does not indicate a temporary slump–he has clearly lost all ability to command both his pitches and the strike zone. This is obviously related to fatigue, and he needs to be rested if he is to be of any use during the final two weeks of the season (which includes a significant number of key make-up games at Jingu which could make or break Takada’s career).

If Matsuoka is not dropped to the farm team tomorrow, then we will have further justification that Takada is playing favorites. Either way, the Takada Count grew today because we were given further evidence today that the manager does not learn from his mistakes.

TAKADA COUNT: 12

Anyway, I should mention the competence on display as well.

Lee (3.06) pitched a clean second, and Oshimoto (2.67) got three quick outs (like Matsuoka before him, he threw only eight pitches) after the three runs given up by number 21.

Lim’s ERA shrank to 1.56 after a perfect ninth.

On offense, both Kawashima and Aoki had multi-hit games. The number two and three hitters added a walk each as well, and Kawashima notched an rbi thanks to his home run.

The Swallows and the biggest momentum they’ve been able to muster in six weeks runs headlong into Yomiuri tomorrow night (6 pm start).

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

    Whoa, a winning streak. But the good news is that with the Tigers loss, the Swallows are now back within a half game of third place, but for how long?

  • zunlin

    Beware also about the Lee usage, he needs rest but he’s playing too much in the last 2 weeks.

    Yuki finds the win he deserved in the last outing.He’s the only one, together with Ishikawa, that i’m trusting in this period.

  • Okay. Now I know why Takada sucks, lol.

  • Christopher

    You desperately need to win these matches and build up momentum. You are also playing a team that has owned you throughout the season and you are in a massive losing streak. Of course you are going to use your star closer in a non-closing situation. There are times when a move like this is essential and given the tightness of the race for the third Climax Series race Takada was fully justified in doing as he did with Lim. You are now in with a very good chance of getting back into third (as Tigers take on Carp in the next series). You really should congratulate your manager for this (as well as the players).

    • CAL,
      The writers of this website are far more concerned with the long-term success of the team than with short-term goals like the playoffs. We’re “big picture” guys, if you will. It’s probably safe to assume that most of the site’s readers are similarly minded.

      The vast majority of what is written on this website should be analyzed from within that context. Therefore, long-term success (e.g. the health of the pitching staff) depends to a great extent on removing the “small picture”, serial-repeater-of-mistakes manager from the team.

      Please indicate that you understand and acknowledge the validity of these points by not replying.

  • Christopher

    I would not acknowledge any such validity. All managers make mistakes and some managers are better than others. I can agree with you that Takada is not a good manager but he is demonstrateably better than his predecessor. I comment because it is clear that the understanding of the role of management or the actual pressures and decisions faced by a manager on this website is deficient. I also comment when you expose your rather pathetic prejudices against other teams fans but that is another matter.

    In the particular scenario the Swallows are faced with getting to the playoffs are THE major concern. They are also a major concern in the long term development of the team. A team to become a force needs to be successful – this is something you need to understand. Success breeds success. It also brings more money and better players which is also something the Swallows need at the moment. Sacking Takada is not the answer at the moment because he may not be replaced by anything better. Furthermore, if he succeeds he may improve as a manager which in turn will benefit the team and benefit you as fans. But it all hinges on Swallows being a contender. Imagine the psychological boost your team will receive if they overcome this problem and make the playoffs.

    More awareness of the management role and as I mentioned in an earlier post the players role would help this site considerably. Your manager is not perfect and in fact could be considered average but he is not as bad as you seem to think and an acknowledgement of this would help this site immesurably. But I would advise you not to talk about long term success until you actually understand the big picture. This is something that has been lacking so far in your comments. An understanding of how the short term also impacts the long term would also be useful.

  • Fabian

    I didn’t think Yuuki would get out of the jam in the bottom of the 6th unscathed. Nice one! With three batters faced and three earned runs, now maybe even Takada realises that Matsuoka desperately needs some rest.

  • Rob

    Yeah, Yuuki went a full six innings! What I’ve seen of him so far is that he can do fairly well, but rarely for more than, say, five innings. Then, when he does lose it, he loses it completely.
    I hope it’s a conditioning thing, and he can work with the trainers over the off-season to add another couple of outs to his starts.

  • Kutabare Yomiuri

    I would have to agree with Mr. Christopher. While poking fun at anyone who is making mistakes or generally mediocre, a manager in this case, can be quite hillarious…but far more emphasis should be put on the actual members of the team for losing games. The Takada rips are funny, but perhaps a bit misdirected.  
    I also think the whole Lim decision last night was the perfect call. I would have been furious had they NOT played him. I am pissed matsuoka was even in the stadium. He should have been somewhere clearing his head no where near the bullpen or the game ball. Also pissed that Takada didn’t start Lim in the bottom 8 instead.  
    The last month and a half and beyond has been little league reminissant devastating loss after devastating loss. Letting Lim pitch the ninth gave the yogurts their first breath of fresh air- the feeling late in the game that they almost start to believe they can in fact close out and win not just one game, but two?! Immeasurable.  Lim may be tired. But how many pitches did he actually throw in the last 48 hours? 18 or something? This is the end of the season here. And the pigeons should be treating this like the climax/japan series. If they can’t expect their star closer or any one of their players for that matter to suck it up and be able to perform a few days in a row than what possible hope do we have for the next month? We have to start expecting the most from all of our players and Takada after being forced to suffer the very least for so long. Other wise, we are already dead. Opimism saves lives and The taste of victory is infectious. Let’s just optimistically hope that the last two timely miracles have infected the entire team with the “???????????”! It’s on!    

  • Yeah, Yuuki went a full six innings! What I've seen of him so far is that he can do fairly well, but rarely for more than, say, five innings. Then, when he does lose it, he loses it completely.
    I hope it's a conditioning thing, and he can work with the trainers over the off-season t9 add znother couple of outs to his starts.;