9/28/09 — Hanshin (Home)

September 28th, 2009

Sanshin TigersTokyo Yakult Swallows cap

Hanshin Tigers 1

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 7

Streak: Won 6    Last 5:  WWWWW

(Jingu Stadium)

Tokyo starter, Takagi, had another solid outing as Tokyo won a very important contest versus the Hanshin Tigers.

Takagi wasn’t able to clock another complete game for the birds, but he did make it through some tough moments and gave up only one run off of five hits. Despite the three walks and one HBP he issued, which were very effective at keeping things interesting, he did ultimately have a very solid start.

Tokyo’s lineup:

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

The Tigers stranded at least one runner in each of the first four innings. The most disappointing inning was the fourth when Takagi was able to find his way out of a one out, bases loaded jam.

For their part, the birds were busy stranding runners left, right, and center as well. The most annoying situation was a one out, bases loaded bonanza that kicked off when Takagi singled with an out on the board. Fukuchi’s hard grounder toward second was ruled an error, and Tanaka eked out an infield single to give Miyamoto a fair shot at a post-game hero interview.

Miymoto, however, grounded into a double play and injured his hand on an unnecessary head-first slide into first base. Miyamoto was replaced in the lineup by Hatakeyama, and the inning was over for the Swallows.

The scoring in this very tight game finally got underway in the bottom of the sixth. Fukuchi grounded out to second, but Tanaka reached on a HBP. Hatakeyama then popped up to right for out number two, and Aoki then singled to left. With two outs, Yuichi came through with a huge double to center that cleared the drawn-in Hirano’s head. Both Tanaka and Aoki scored to make it 2-0 Tokyo.

Two walks later, the first intentional (Guiel) and the second probably not (Onizaki), and the Swallows were looking at another bases loaded opportunity. But fortunately for the Tigers, Aikawa was at the plate. Aikawa ended the threat with a sliced liner right at the second baseman.

The Tigers got one back in the top of the seventh after Yano’s tricky fly ball at the wall in right was not reeled in by Guiel (the people sitting near me said he should have caught it, but it wasn’t counted as an error. I was just impressed that he was able to get to the right place so quickly). Yano made it to third on the play, and he was brought home on Hiyama’s dribbler into right for the Tigers’ first and only run. Mayumi’s second sac bunt (he called for on in the top of the first as well) perhaps hastened the end of this inning as Takagi was able to get Sekimoto to fly out to center, and then Lee (3.18) came in to induce a ground ball to short from Toritani. 2-1 Swallows.

The bottom of the seventh is where the game really changed. Noguchi, pinch-hitting in place of Lee, struck out. Then Fukuchi drew a walk and stole second about three or four pitches later (Hanshin actually guessed correctly and Yano called for a pitch-0ut, but Fukuchi was easily safe).

And then on the very next pitch, Fukuchi stole third as well.

Tanaka, who had a front row row seat for all of the base-swiping, then drew a walk of his own to put runners on the corners with one out. And that would be it for Hanshin’s first reliever of the evening. Atchison then came in to deal with the mess, and he promptly gave up a single to Yoshimoto to bring Fukuchi home from third. 3-1 Swallows.

Next man up, Aoki, had to contend with a little bit of Atchison inside pitching sprinkled with a little bit of Atchison verbal condescension, but ultimately he poked a single into left that would score two and send Atchison to the showers without recording a single out. 5-1 giddy birds.

D’Antona, pinch-hitting for Yuichi, ended up drawing another walk, and so that meant that two runners were on base for Onizaki’s next at-bat. After Guiel’s pop fly to center (which moved the runners over to second and third), Onizaki hit a two out single to center that cleared the bases. He was eventually thrown out at second trying to stretch the hit into a double, but the damage had already been done. 7-1 Tokyo.

Igarashi (2.61) was already all warmed up, so he was brought in to pitch the eighth anyway. He retired all three batters he faced on a total pitch count of 14.

The Swallows got two more runners on base in the eighth, but stranded both of them.

And luckily, even though he was fully warmed up, somebody finally thought better of using Lim, and instead Oshimoto (2.68) was brought in to pitch the ninth.

And that was it. The Swallows extended their lead to 1.5 games over Hanshin in fourth, and two more critical games follow (weather pending).

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