10/19/09 — Central League Climax Series — Tokyo vs Chunichi (Game 3)

October 19th, 2009

Tokyo-Swallows-logo

Tokyo Swallows 4

Chunichi Dragons 7

Series: Chunichi 2-1 Tokyo

(Nagoya Dome)

Chunichi was definitely the better team today, but they should never forget that they had the flu and a little bit of Takada on their side. Either way, the season came to an end for the Swallows while the Dragons now inherit the unenviable task of overcoming a one game disadvantage in a best-of-seven series at Tokyo Dome versus Yomiuri.

Recognize these guys (other than Yoneno and Yoshinori)? This is what the flu can do to your roster.

Recognize these guys (other than Yoneno and Yoshinori)? This is what the flu can do to your roster.

That and Nakata pitched pretty damned well.

Tokyo’s lineup:

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

Chunichi’s lineup:

1. Ibata (SS)
2. Araki (2B)
3. Morino (3B)
4. Blanco (1B)
5. Wada (LF)
6. Nomoto (RF)
7. Fujii (CF)
8. Tanishige (C)
9. Nakata (P)

1st inning:

Tokyo got off to a decent start despite the odds. Miyamoto’s two out double was followed by an Aoki double to put the birds ahead 1-0.

Chunichi put two runners on against Tokyo’s third-choice-starter, Yoshinori, in the bottom of the first. However, Wada grounded out to Tanaka to end the threat.

2nd inning:

Tokyo sat down in order, but Chunichi were able to work consecutive one out walks (Fujii and

Aoki plated Miyamoto in the first inning.

Aoki plated Miyamoto in the first inning.

Tanishige) before Nakata (the pitcher) sacrificed and Ibata grounded out to short.

3rd inning:

Yoshinori started off with a karaburi (swinging) strikeout, and Aoki grounded out to first.

With two outs, Tanaka grounded out to third to bring the Dragons to the plate.

Araki batted first for Dragons.

After finally working a full count, Araki sliced one past the pitcher into center field. Excellent at-bat to be fair.

Morino followed with a pop fly to center, and Araki was caught stealing during Blanco’s second at-bat of the game. Blanco singled to right after the runner was removed, and Wada came to the plate with two outs and a runner on first.

Wada, as he’s done several times in this short series, came through with a big hit. An opposite field home run put the home team ahead 2-1.

Nomoto continued the two out rally with a single through the gap between third and short. And Araki (Tokyo’s pitching coach) finally came out of the dugout to have a chat with his young, control-challenged starter.

Fujii then punched a double down the left field line that put Nomoto on third.

Yoshinori intentionally walked Tanishige to get to the pitcher, Nakata.

With the bases loaded and two outs, Nakata struck out swinging.

4th inning:

Miyamoto got behind in the count really quickly while flashing the bunt twice and eventually grounded out for the first out of the inning.

Aoki also went down  2-0 in a hurry (no feigned bunts involved), and ended up grounding out to short.

D’Antona for his part, did very well to lay off the outside sliders late in the at-bat and drew a two out walk.

Guiel struck out on a forkball to strand D’Antona on first.

Ibata was the first hitter for Chunichi and he struck out looking at a pitch on the outside of the plate. Araki struck swinging, and for a moment it looked as though Yoshinori had relocated the strike zone. Morino singled and represented a brief hiccup in Yoshinori’s inning as next man up, Blanco, struck out swinging at a healthy diet of outside sliders.

5th inning:

Hatakeyama led off with a single to right, and Aikawa immediately started flashing the bunt. The bunt was successful, and Yoshinori was pulled in favor of Yuichi (doesn’t exactly inspire sentiments of hope, does it?).

Yuichi looked at a first strike, and then wasn’t able to pull the trigger on a second called strike. Yuichi swiped needlessly at the next pitch, a forkball in the dirt to illuminate a second red lamp on the board.

Fukuchi started his at-bat by swinging at, and missing, the first pitch. He held off on the second Nakata offering which was a fair bit wide, and he got burned pretty badly trying to catch up with the third pitch. To his credit, however, Fukuchi displayed a bit of patience and worked the count full. And he reached first on a walk.

With men on first and second, and two outs, Tanaka came to the plate. The first pitch was a ball, and Nakata missed wide with the next pitch as well. A called first strike and a foul ball later, the count was 2-2. Tanaka eventually came through with a single to right, but third base coach, Dobashi, decided to send Hatakeyama home and the big man was thrown out to end the inning.

The bottom of this inning started very, very badly. With Matsui on the mound for the birds, Wada and Nomoto led off with back-to-back singles.

Hatakeyama left to ponder what might have been (if he hadn't been waved home).

Hatakeyama left to ponder what might have been (if he hadn't been waved home).

One of the scarier guys in the Chunichi lineup then came to the plate. Fujii has been hitting doubles like a madman in this series, and a double at this particular juncture of the game would be curtains for the Swallows’ chances.

Fujii worked the count full, but he fouled the 2-3 pitch off in an area that Hatakeyama could get to for the first out. Tanishige’s turn.

Tanishige singled into right field to score Wada from third, and that’s when things got slightly out of control. 3-1 Chunichi.

The hook came way too late. Matsui was left in long enough to record only one out but gave up four hits and three runs in the process. Oops.

Yoshikawa inherited a man on second with one out and quickly got behind 1-3. Ibata eventually drew a walk to put Chunichi’s seventh potential run on first base. But Araki and Morino succumbed to a pitcher they haven’t seen a whole lot in the last couple of years, and both runners were stranded.

6th inning:

Miyamoto led things off for the Swallows who were now down by four runs. He took the first three pitches for balls before Chunichi’s first reliever, Kawahara, threw two called strikes. Miyamoto ended up grounding out to second for the first out.

Aoki tried a safety bunt on the first pitch, but it went foul for strike one. After all was said and done, Aoki drew a walk.

D’Antona grounded out but moved Aoki over in the process.

Guiel struck out swining to send the Swallows into the field.

Blanco singled to start things off for Chunichi. Wada then lucked out and his lunging rip at Yoshikaw’s outside pitch ended up in left field. Yoshikawa was, however, able to get Nomoto, Fujii, and Tanishige out to end the threat.

7th inning:

Hatakeyama, Aikawa, and Onizaki went down in order to make things even more desperate for the visitors while Inoue’s leadoff double was wasted by Ibata’s sacrifice bunt and the two quick outs that followed.

8th inning:

Fukuchi finally got his first hit of the series to start things off in the eighth. This one was an infield single to short. Tanaka followed with his second hit of the evening, a single to right. Miyamoto grounded out to first for the first out, but Aoki came through with his second rbi of the game on a single to right which plated Fukuchi. 5-2 Chunichi.

And Tanaka scored on D’Antona’s single to right to make it 5-3 Dragons.

Guiel drew a one out walk, but then Takada got creative and put Shida in the game to bat for Oshimoto.

Bad idea.

Double play.

Great.

Chunichi eighth:

Blanco drew a lead-off walk with Igarashi now on the mound, and he scored on Hirata’s one out triple. 6-3 Dragons.

Hirata quickly crossed home plate on Fujii’s second double of the game. 7-3 blue koala bears.

That was the end of the scoring for the home team though as Tanishige and Hidenori weren’t able to get anything else done (not like it mattered).

9th inning:

After Aikawa and Onizaki provided the first two outs of the inning, Fukuchi, Tanaka, and Miyamoto came up with back-to-back-to-back singles. Fukuchi scored on Tanaka’s single to make it 7-4.

And with two outs Aoki came to the plate. He represented the tying run, but Iwase was on the mound at this point, and the man that carried the team during the final third of the season (and through the playoffs) went down swinging to end the game.

7-4 Final.

Observations:

  • The birds were lucky to keep the difference as small as it was. Yoshinori had only one short stretch where he could put the ball where Aikawa was calling for it (the fourth inning–Yoshinori’s last).
  • Yoshinori lasted four innings and gave up two earned runs off of seven hits. He struck out five and (typically) walked four.
  • Yoshinori burned through 96 pitches in his four innings of work.
  • Matsui was terrible in relief, and he was left in the game a wee bit too long.
  • Yoshikawa was shaky but didn’t allow any runs to score in 1 1/3 innings.
  • Oshimoto was fine.
  • Tanaka batted .462 in this series. And he is injured.
  • The front half of Tokyo’s lineup had at least two hits each in this game. Fukuchi had two singles (finally!) while Miyamoto and Aoki had a single and a double each (Aoki also added a walk). Tanaka had three singles.
  • D’Antona and Hatakeyama also had one hit each.
  • The birds were outhit 16-11.
  • Ochiai used five relievers to get through the last four innings.
  • His starter, Nakata, pitched a good game.
  • Dobashi (the third base coach) is an idiot for waving Fludge home on Tanaka’s hit in the fifth. What makes you think a guy of that size can outrun a throw from shallow right when he started his run from second base? Dobashi hasn’t made a bad call like that since the first half of the season…

And so that’s it for the Swallows’ season. They put up a good fight, but there was ultimately nothing they could do without a solid starter on the mound and half of the battery decimated by the flu.

Fukuchi and Hatakeyama weren’t very good at the plate in this series (they didn’t get a hit until today), but several other guys stepped up (I’m actually very surprised that Takada favorite, Yoshimoto, didn’t get a start in this series given Hatakeyama’s ‘Fludge’-like tendencies).

Tanaka, Aoki, D’Antona, and Guiel, on the other hand, put in several quality at-bats, and the first three in that short list batted .300 or better in this series. Guiel added several walks which was basically a continuation of his season-long ability to get on base.

I’ll withhold adding to the ‘Takada Count’ again as I don’t know how well the players on the bench were feeling. Given the circumstances, the birds put up a decent fight in this series, but a lot more will be required next season to give ourselves another shot at going to the Japan Series.

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

  • I thin you put it perfectly, Chunichi were the better team on the day, but we still could have taken it, and very well might have done if not for the flu issues.

    The 5th inning Hatake “Why send a chubby man home to his doom?” decision was probably the game’s turning point. If he’d been held, bases loaded with Miyamoto and Aoki to come……..

    If everyone had been healthy then they wouldn’t have had to have used Matsui, who isn’t, and in my opinion has never been, a very good pitcher. He was definitely left in too long. But then again we would have used Igarashi either way and he didn’t exactly cover himself in glory so……

    And I was fuming at the decision to put in Shida in the 8th, but as you said, I’ll also give that one the benefit of the doubt given the circumstances and the paucity of what was left on the bench.

    Tanaka was amazing, and Aoki, Miyamoto, D’Antona and Guiel all did well too.

    Fukuchi needs to stop being so damn streaky.

    All in all we put up a good fight and who knows what might have been if the NPB hadn’t infected us with the flu (of course I’m not serious there).

    I’m frustrated more than upset at the end of our season, mainly due to the fact that a few weeks ago I’d have bet a fair bit of cash on it being Hanshin here losing today and not us.

    So next season needs to be one of consolidation and improvement (ahem, consistency, ahem).

    But alas, Takada will be back so strike that. We’ll be in for more of the same.

    Oh, and D’ANTONA NEEDS TO BE SIGNED UP FOR NEXT YEAR! We will not find better than him, and he has the potential to be a long term Rami-chan like fixture if he’s handled in the right way. DON’T F* THIS ONE UP TAKADA YOU CHUMP!

  • flick

    http://www.sponichi.co.jp/baseball/news/2009/10/20/07.html
    It seems that the birds are keeping all of the gaikokujin players for next year, and Shiroishi is gonna be a coach for ni-gun!! Hope he’s not the batting coach.

    Too bad for the playoffs, but I am glad the season lasted 3 more games than expected.
    Great pic of “Fludge” by the way.