Huge Week Ahead

downward spiralWith the once comfortably 2nd placed Swallows now ten games back of the now 2nd placed Dragons, and fourteen back of the pace-setting Giants, there is now only one thing left to play for this season: the 3rd and final playoff spot.

And by the end of this Sunday afternoon, we’ll have a much better idea of whether or not we’ll be able to hold on to that berth or not.

From Tuesday to Thursday the Swallows travel to the 4th placed Hanshin Tigers for a key three game series. The Tigers are currently five games behind Tokyo, but unlike the Swallows they’ve started to find some form, with August being their first month with a winning record for some time. They finished the month in which the Swallows couldn’t win a single series with an excellent 2-1 series win at home against the Giants.

The only bright spot for Tokyo is that they’ll send their two best starters, Tateyama and Ishikawa, to the mound for the first two games of the series. Two pitchers who have been (relatively) unaffected by the terrible, terrible dip in form the rest of the team have been going through.

And after the Koshien series is done, Yakult head to their unhappiest of hunting grounds for a three game series starting Friday. With a 1 and 5 record at Tokyo Dome this year (and 1 and 8 record away against the Giants, 4 and 12 overall) it seems unlikely they will get anything from that series, especially as by the weekend we’ll be into Ryo Kawashima/Muranaka/Ichiba territory starting-wise, with Yoshinori offering a glimmer of hope for a solitary win.

After taking on the Swallows at home the Tigers then travel to Hiroshima for a series against the Carp, a team against which they (just) have a winning record in 2009.

So given all that, the five game buffer the Swallows currently have is starting to look rather precarious. And their first ever Climax Series appearance, that had once looked nailed-on, now looks like it may well have to wait another year. Especially given that manager Takada’s grip on the basics of the game of baseball has been becoming ever more tenuous as the season has progressed.

Things are certainly looking bleak from the eyes of this Swallows fan. And this is all coming after the best first half of a season Tokyo has witnessed in many years. Hopefully that stellar start will not end up being all in vain, and if it does, it will lead to Takada packing his bags and getting the fook out of my baseball club.

About David Watkins

David is a baseball bothering Brummie who spends a fair portion of his life fretting over the Tokyo Swallows and the WORLD'S GREATEST FOOTBALL TEAM, Aston Villa. He completes the quartet of abusive sporting relationships by being a die hard New York Knicks and Mets fan. You can find him on twitter: @yakulto

  • Mac

    The word ‘collapse’ is banded around a lot these days at Jingu, in so many contexts.

    I remember heading to the Tokyo D*me a couple of months ago thinking ‘If we win tonight we equal the Kutabare on wins’.

    I used to think a lot of things.

  • Rob

    Wow – hidden upside if we complete the collapse in that a) Takada could be gone and b) Mayumi could be back next year. Hmmm. Let me mull this over….