9/30/09 — Hanshin (Home)

September 30th, 2009

Sanshin TigersTokyo Yakult Swallows cap

Hanshin Tigers 7

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 1

Streak: Lost 2     Last 5:  WWWLL

(Jingu Stadium)

The birds outhit the Tigers 12-10 but still got annihilated. Yuki pitched six rather solid innings but got roughed up a little in the seventh. Takada factored a bit in this one as well.

Three fielders, nobody calling for the ball.

Tokyo’s lineup:

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

The Tigers put their collective claw mark on this game at the very start with a run in the first. Hirano’s lead-off single translated into a run when Kanemoto came up with a two out single. 1-0 Iihara was removed from the lineup after an injury in foul territory in the 9th.Hanshin.

Yuki was able to calm down a bit after that. He was perfect through the second and third, and he allowed a single runner in both the fourth and fifth innings (both singles).

Meanwhile, the Swallows stranded one runner (Tanaka, single) in the first, and saw Hatakeyama kill a two out, bases loaded rally in the fourth with one of his trademark pop flies.

Hatakeyama, I hereby dub thee “Fludge” (which is short for “fly ball pudge boy”).

For the record, Fludge, I’m a big, big fan. And yes, everyone watching shares your dreams of you becoming a power hitter. But you really need to learn how to pull your left elbow and swing down a bit more. Until you can demonstrate solid contact on a more consistent basis, you are hereby banned from swinging up on the ball. Now go to your room.

Yuki’s textbook sac bunt in the fifth to move Kawamoto (single) over to second didn’t end up generating a run, and Kawamoto killed a two out, bases loaded situation in the sixth with a quick strikeout. During the sixth incidentally, with two on and one out, Takada started to make silly decisions. Guiel (1-2 up to that point) was replaced by Fukuchi.  Why would you replace one of the team’s best clutch hitters with its worst in that situation?

Anyway, Fukuchi struck out swinging and the rally ended quickly thereafter.

The top of the seventh was when things started to get out of reach for the birds. Arai’s two out single was followed by a Brazell homer to right that made it 3-0 Hanshin.

The Swallows stranded a runner in the seventh and two in the eighth.

Aoki reached the 150 hit mark for the fifth season in a row.

Aoki reached the 150 hit mark for the fifth season in a row.

Then Igarashi (3.31) was brought in to pitch the ninth. Huh? Why Igarashi with a three run deficit? Surely Hashimoto, Yoshikawa, or Matsui would be a wiser choice, no? How many times do we need to put a valuable, late-inning pitcher in a situation where his talents are not needed (and he knows it) just to see him give up two, three, or four runs?

Mr. Takada, I can give you exhibit A, B, and C from any team in Japan showing why this often ends poorly, and I would need three hands to count all of the times I’ve personally witnessed Matsuoka, Oshimoto, Lim, and Igarashi allow an opposing team to expand a pre-existing lead this season.

Anyway, the long and short of it is that Igarashi got tagged with four runs in that inning. He faced four batters and gave up four hits. Hashimoto (1.80) did end up pitching in this game, but his entrance was roughly four batters too late. He allowed Igarashi’s last credited run on a sac fly, but he did retire the three batters he faced. 7-0 Hanshin.

The birds finally scored in the bottom of the ninth when Tanaka (one out single) was brought home by Aoki’s two out single to center. 7-1 yellow cats.

TAKADA COUNT: 13

Raising the count is mostly for replacing Guiel when he was due at the plate with two runners on and only one out. Fukuchi, for the record, was held out of the starting lineup because he’s slumping yet again. So then what’s the rationale for taking Guiel out of the game in that situation? Like I said, it’s possible that he was hurting for some reason, and if so then I’ll pull the count back down. But damn! That sure was a nonsensical decision otherwise.

Also a contributing factor was Igarashi’s appearance when the team was down by three runs. The 2009 season is a very good example of why pitchers should not be asked to assume a role that differs from the one they’ve become accustomed to.

Observations:

  • Funny moment in the top of the first when Kanemoto, who was on first at the time, took off running for second even though Yuki hadn’t started his windup yet. Yuki easily turned and threw him out at second to end the inning. Hit and run is my guess, but either way it’s always fun to see a veteran make a rookie mistake (a la Miyamoto’s head-first slide last night).
  • Miyamoto and D’Antona started this game despite nursing injuries. Both reached base once in five plate appearances (Miyamoto had a single and D’Antona drew a walk).
  • Aoki’s batting average reached .300 on a 4-5 evening at the plate.
  • Tanaka was the only other Tokyo player with a multi-hit game (two singles).
  • Oshimoto (2.75) pitched a perfect eighth.
  • Tonight’s loss means that the Swallows are now in fourth place again. They trail the third place Tigers by half a game.

The birds now have a day off before playing the Hiroshima Carp on Friday at 6 PM.

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

  • Yasushi Iihara had to be helped up after trying to make a catch in foul territory in the ninth inning. He was immediately removed from the lineup, but he walked off the field under his own power.

    I have no idea what type, or how bad, the injury was.

    Anyone have news on the situation?

  • Eddy

    This was my first game at Jingu in 2 years for me. I noticed the new score board but could not really tell that they had moved the fence further back. Jingu still looked like the good old Jingu. Thank god. I had the pleasure of meeting some very nice people last night in Jingu. It was a pleasure meeting you Christopher. Hope to see you guys soon again. I´ll be going to Jingu as often as I can which will be pretty often. Despite the one sided game I had a great time. Changing Guiel to Fukuchi was a horrible mistake by Takada. That one move cost the Swallows the game. What speaks in favor of Swallows reaching the Climax Series is that I think most of the games left will be played in Jingu.

  • Good meeting you too, Eddy.

    Glad your return to Jingu was an enjoyable one (if a bit rainy).

  • Fludge is seriously one of my favorite players on the team, but after going back over his at-bats for the month of September, I discovered that my suspicions were correct. He hits soft pop flies all the time!

    21 of his 45 at-bats during that month ended as a pop fly. Many of those were caught in and around the infield.

    His 10 hits (one solo homer) were good enough for a monthly average of .222, but I can’t remember the last time I saw someone fly out with such regularity.

    Anyway, sorry to all the other Hatakeyama lovers out there. I just felt I had to explain his new nickname.

    • flick

      It’s always frustrating when, all he needs to do is hit it hard enough to churn up a sac fly, but he soft-pops it(ie 8th inning yesterday).
      Also this is a suspicion, but he seems to be impatient with the bat as well, pop-flying the first ball he sees a lot.
      Oh well. But fludge is appropriate and is even kind of cool actually. Fits his appearance.

  • Christopher

    I would have thought that Hashimoto was the right person for the ninth and like you was surprised to see Igarashi. The similarity between Mayumi and Takada is strking because for your ninth we saw Fujikawa pitching in his second none save situation of the series. Once again with an enormous lead. Is there some kind of conspiracy between kantoku’s to abuse their elite pitchers arms?

  • Kutabare Yomiuri

    I graced jingu with my presence yesterday only for a seemingly becoming routine disappointment. I wish I was playing a drinking game based on the amount of Swallows stranded on base….take that back…that could have caused me to go blind…but perhaps blindness, deafness and dumbness, are not only the symptoms that could have mildly dulled the pain of this blunder-full game, but also were they perhaps Takada’s symptoms when he pulled Guiel mid-game when it was still a 1 run ball game. Someone please tell me Aaron had a sore hammy or something cause otherwise that was an outright vomitous decision.
    I like “Fludge”, but nearly found myself chanting “Shit-a-ke!” (clap, clap, clap) in the 8th.

    • “Shit-a-ke!”

      I rather thought he was shaped like a pear…

      that was an outright vomitous decision.

      That’s a fantastic new adjective! I’m sure we will have plenty of chances to use it in the future.

      Hope you get to see a win at Jingu soon. You’ve had some pretty bad luck this fall, huh?