9/20/09 – Yomiuri (Home)

September 20th, 2009

Tokyo Yakult Swallows cap

Yomiuri Giants 8

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 2

Streak: Lost 3 Last 5: WWLLL

(Jingu Stadium)

Shock of shocks, the Birds dropped another one to their crosstown rivals – this one no prettier than the last two, thus giving up a sweep and making sure no one worries about their progress towards fifth place – a destination hampered only by Hiroshima’s having lost tonight as well.

But let’s take the detailed look the Tsubamegun promises to provide, even when the pain and suffering turn to numbness and apathy.

The starting line-ups.
For Tokyo:

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

For Yomiuri:

1. Sakamoto (SS)
2. Matsumoto (CF)
3. Ogasawara (3B)
4. Ramirez (LF)
5. Kamei (1B)
6. Tani (RF)
7. Abe (C)
8. Wakiya (2B)
9. Takahashi (P)

Things started out even enough. Both teams got dressed, warmed up, took the field. . . and that’s when things started to go against our guys.

OK, that’s a dispirited exaggeration. The first inning was 1-2-3 on both sides. In the second, Yoshinori gave up one walk and one hit, but made it out unscathed, while the next three Swallows batters obligingly hit three straight pop flies.

This brings us to the top of the third inning, when any fans’ hopes of the game at least being quick started to crumble. The Giants’ hurler, Takahashi, came up to bat, sporting a .129 average, and proceeded to hit safely to left field. Not a good sign.

Takahashi was followed by skinny little golden boy Sakamoto, who bunted safely.

Matsumoto then hit a grounder right back to Yoshinori, resulting in Takahashi being nabbed at third for out number one, but was followed by Ogasawara, who doubled into center driving in SakaMatsumoto (come on, Giants don’t have individual identities aprt from the collective anyway. Anyone who’s been to the Big Egg knows this is a bizarre trait shared by club and supporters alike.) 2-0 Yomiuri.

Line drive to center by Ramirez brings Ogasawara home. Still only one out into the top of the third and it is 3-0 Yomiuri.

Kamei hit safely and was replaced by Furuki. Then, after Tani flied out for out number two, Yoshinori walked Abe and gave up a double to the right field fence by Wakiya, which drove in two more runs. 5-0 Yomiuri.

The carnage finally ended when Takahashi, who started the whole mess came up to make the third out, thus allowing Yoshinori to sit down with an ERA as swollen as the too-often kicked backsides of his team and their fans.

Never fear, though. The bottom end of the Swallows’s order went down in orderly fashion again, making sure Yoshinori didn’t get too cold on his sixty-foot, six-inch walk back out to batting practice the mound.

In the top of the fourth inning, Yoshinori retired three batters on fly balls. The only kink being Ogasawara’s solo home run to right field. 6-0 Yomiuri.

In the bottom of the fourth, a little daylight finally shon through for the good guys when Fukuchi reached first on an error, then was thrown out on his way to second after a Tanaka grounder to short.  Aoki was then walked, putting two men on base for D’Antona’s ground out.

Wakiya drove in another run for the visitors in a side full of hits again, making it 7-0 Yomiuri.

The top of the sixth saw Matsui come in in relief to retire three in a row on two grounders and a fly to stop the bleeding. In the bottom of the sixth, the Swallows finally made up a little bit of ground when Fukuchi doubled, stole, then was driven in by a Tanaka double. D’Antona hen drove Tanaka in on a high-bouncing grounder to short to make the score after six 7-2 Yomiuri.

Yoshikawa came in in the top of the eighth to promptly give up a home run to left to Sakamoto, making it 8-2 Yomiuri.

Not that it mattered at that point.

Yoshikawa loaded up the bases before finally getting out of the inning.  In the ninth, Nishizaki made his first appearance, letting plenty of men on, but no runs in. In the field, Hatake moved over to first, replacing D’Antona, while Yoshimoto came in at third and Takeuchi replaced Guiel in right.

Takahashi pitched a complete game for the Giants, notching his eighth win of the season, while young Yoshinori took his ninth loss for the Swallows, leaving him at 5 and 9, with a 3.44 ERA and a 1.38 RIP.

There are probably lessons to be learned from tonight’s game, but they probably could have been learned a month ago and blah, blah, blah. . . Isn’t it about time to start getting ready for Christmas?

The Swallows go down to Hiroshima for a three game stand and, the way things have been going, an indisputable claim on fifth place before coming back to Jingu for a weekend series against Yokohama. Wonder how that’ll go?

I don’t.

As always, thanks for reading, commenting, commiserating, and putting up with a pinch blogger.

  • Rob

    Thanks for the writeup, Garrett! I was trying to pretend this game didn’t happen….

  • It seems that after this game a couple of hundred Swallows fans gathered outside the team clubhouse calling for Takada to quit.

    So you see, it’s not just us here at Tsubamegun who are sick to the back teeth of him.

    • But, David, Mr. Sada, of Ondo (the fan club magazine), declared Takada the best manager the Swallows have ever had and chose to manage his all-time best Swallows team, so there.

      I’m feeling the bittersweetness of my slavish devotion to stats and my interminable pessimism being proven right. I brought this up a few times last year, but Takada is doing almost exactly what he did with the Fighters 24 years ago.

      When players demonstrate mediocrity or are just not good enough to play at the top level, there is very little handwringing about giving them nice ways out or whose fault it is that they’re not playing well. Some managers, even those who have irrefutably benfitted their clubs, such as Bobby V., can be somewhat unceremoniously non-renewed. But if the manager had a proven record of previous managerial incompetence, is repeating his mistakes over two decades later (thus showing he has learned nothing), and was once a star player for the Giants, somehow his players are letting him down and he deserves an offer of extension.

      I’m glad to see that many other Swallows fans are starting to see the light. I’m only sorry that so many folks bought Takada jerseys in the first half of this season and didn’t join the Takada resignation call when we first put it out about the time this blog was first started last year.

      Oh well, better late than never.

      What is most frustrating is the knowledge that the Swallows have almost zero chance of seeking a manager rather than yet another former star player. Furuta and Takada have clearly not taught them that playing and managing are usually two distinctly different skills.

  • oliver

    This was my first Swallows game – even the total suckiness of the Swallows on this particular occasion didn’t spoil for me the awesomeness of a night out at the Japanese besubiru. I’m sure it doesn’t always feel like it but you guys are very lucky to have a second home at Jingu. Cheers and keep up the good work.

    • Glad you enjoyed it Oliver and thanks for the kind words.

      Rest assured, we’re all well aware of how lucky we are. We wouldn’t trade our little spot at Jingu for one at any other stadium/team in Japan!

      Now only if Takada would trade his……..