3/27/10 – Yomiuri (Away)

March 27th, 2010

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 10

Yomiuri Giants 5

Streak: Won 1   Last 5: LW

(Tokyo Dome)

Tokyo’s bats finally exploded into life and Yoshinori pitched a gem as the Swallows ran out easy winners in the home of their beloved neighbours. Yoshinori pitched 8 superb innings, tossing a career high 135 pitches, and giving up just 1 run off 5 hits with 5 Ks thrown in for good measure. And boy did he get the run support he needed, and then some. D’Antona was the undoubted star of the show with the bat, as he went 3 for 4 with 2 homeruns and 5 RBIs. But it wasn’t just him, as the formidable 3 to 5 cleanup unit of Aoki, D’Antona and Guiel went a combined 9 for 13, bringing home all but one of the Swallows runs. The Swallows racked up 15 hits in total.

Tokyo lined up with just one change from the night before, with ex-Tiger Fujimoto making his debut at short, replacing the rookie Araki:

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

The Swallows did get a little help from an old friend in Giants starter Dicky Gonzalez. He had a game to forget, giving up 7 runs off 10 hits in his 6 innings of work as he more closely resembled the pitcher he was for a lot of his spell with the Swallows, as opposed to the all-star he seemed to become after joining the Giants last year. And long may this kind of form continue.

Tokyo took the lead in the top of the 1st, a Fukuchi lead off single and inevitable steal being later followed up by a D’Antona single to right, just out of the reach of the diving Takahashi at first. 1-0 Tokyo.

The lead was almost doubled in the 2nd, as Fujimoto got on thanks to the merest of contact between ball and leg, and was then moved along to second by a groundout. Up stepped Fukuchi who singled to left, but Fujimoto was waved home by the ever competent new third base coach Shiroishi. The throw home from Ramirez arrived at the plate at almost the same time as the diving Fujimoto, and the newcomer’s hand appeared to beat the tag of catcher Abe’s glove by the smallest of margins, but this being played where it was meant it was called in the favour of the home team and the lead remained at one.

But the Giants wouldn’t be so lucky in the 3rd. Tanaka and Aoki hit back-to-back singles to set the table for D’Antona, and he clubbed one just over the fence in left and it was 4-0 Tokyo.

Yoshinori found himself in his first pinch of the night in the bottom of the inning, as a walk and a single left him with men on the corners with two outs, but Ogasawara could only ground out to second and the threat was neutered.

The lead got bigger in the 6th. Miyamoto doubled off the wall in right before Fujimoto earned a walk to put men on first and second. Aikawa then flew out to shallow foul territory in left and Yoshinori struck out trying to bunt and there were two outs on the board. Fukuchi was then the recipient of the 3rd dead ball of the evening and the bases were loaded for Tanaka. The second baseman hit a grounder to third, but Ogasawara made a poor call in trying to get the out at second, Miyamoto was home and all the runners were safe, 5-0. Next up was Aoki who singled to right, bringing home two more runs, but Takaka was thrown out at third, ending the inning with the score at 7-0 Tokyo.

Ogasawara hit a solo shot to right in the bottom of the 6th to make it 7-1, but the seven run lead was restored in the 7th as Jamie hit his second homer of the game to just right of the scoreboard in centre and it was 8-1.

The final Tokyo runs came in the 8th against Yomiuri reliever Kaneto. Aoki knocked his third single of the evening to lead off and then Takeuchi (in for D’Antona) flew out to centre for out number one. Up stepped Guiel, and he saw the first pitch fly just over his head, to which he took exception and started walking angrily toward the mound. The benches cleared but the situation was calmed before anything of interest could transpire. Guiel then exacted revenge, by hitting one deep to dead centre that appeared to just about clear the fence and bounce back into play. The ball was fielded by the Giants and Guiel came to a halt at second. The umps then took advantage of the video replay option, and after a good five minutes of deliberation they waved Aaron home and it was 10-1 Tokyo.

And that was pretty much that. A portion of shine was taken off the win as Hye-Cheon Lee gave up 4 runs off 4 hits in the 9th, but Oshimoto came in to get the final out and Tokyo had themselves a moral boosting victory in their usual kryptonite-palace. 10-5 Tokyo Final.

The two teams meet again tomorrow afternoon for the rubber game of the series, with Muranaka due to take the mound for Tokyo.

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