4/10/10 – Hanshin (Away)

April 10th, 2010

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 1

Hanshin Tigers 5

Streak: Lost 2   Last 5: LWLWL

(Koshien)

After sending the Hanshin Tigers to their sixth loss for the month of April, the birds looked to pile more misery on their hosts Saturday afternoon.

Tokyo fielded an identical lineup to last night’s winning formula:

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

The Swallows were actually able to put some pressure on Hanshin starter, Uezono, by loading the bases in the top of the first. Tanaka’s one-out single was followed by a somewhat lucky high bloop single that Hanshin’s right fielder, Katsuragi, couldn’t quite come up with. To be fair, it was hit shallow enough, that the second baseman should have taken it, but at any rate, the ball touched the grass, and both runners were safe at second and third.

Guiel then drew a walk to load the bases, but Miyamoto’s solid punch to left-center was reeled in comfortably by Murton to send the birds into the field.

And the question on everyone’s mind was: which Yoshinori would we see today?

The bottom of the first quickly got dicey as Murton led off with an infield single to third that would have seen him on second base if it hadn’t been for the fact that D’Antona is tall.

Murton did reach second on Hirano’s hard grounder to short that was close enough for Mayumi to come out and get all huffy with the first base umpire. It was all a show though, and Mayumi easily retreated when the second base umpire came in to act as backup.

Toritani then put runners on the corners with a single between short and third, and that set the stage for the beleaguered Kanemoto to bring a run home with a hopper to left. 1-0 Hanshin.

And then Yoshinori decided to make things interesting by walking the bases full with one out. Nice nice.

After that, Johjima parked one in no-mans-land behind the centerfield wall. Grand slam. 5-0 Hanshin.

Ah, that Yoshinori.

But then the other Yoshinori showed up, and aside from a couple of walks, he no-hit the Tigers for the next five innings. Too bad the offense didn’t do much to help him out of the jam.

Yoshinori hit the showers in the top of the seventh when Uezono, despite facing the weakest end of the Tokyo lineup, started the inning by walking both Fujimoto and Kinugawa with no outs. Iihara pinch hit for Yoshinori and grounded into a 3-6 but was safe at first. That put runners on the corners for Takeuchi who was in to hit for Miwa.

Seeing that a lefty was coming to the plate, Hanshin pulled Uezono in favor of lefty Tsutsui. That prompted Takada to get clever and put the kaibosh on Takeuchi’s evening by switching him for Hatakeyama who promptly got beaned to load the bases with one out.

Tanaka finally brought home a run with a sac fly to left. 5-1 Hanshin.

And then it was time for the bouncing condom dance. Yay!

Katoh appeared on the mound for the bottom of the seventh after the multi-colored condoms had been scraped off the field. Despite a somewhat unlucky double with one out, and intentionally walking Murton with two, Katoh was able to get out of the inning by striking out pinch-hitter, Asai.

Kubota then took the mound for the Tigers in the top of the eighth. He got D’Antona and Guiel to strike out swinging, before Miyamoto smacked a grounder up the middle of the diamond to put a man on first with two outs.

Fujimoto then smacked a double to make things interesting, but Kinugawa went down swinging to eliminate the threat.

Fujikawa came in to protect the four run lead in the top of the ninth. Iihara grounded out weakly to first, and Yuichi drew a pinch-hit, four-pitch walk. Tanaka then collected his third hit of the game on the first pitch he saw with a bouncer between first and second.

Fujikawa then somehow got Aoki to swing at a pitch that was at chin level for the second out. That at-bat wins my award for most pointless strikeout of the season (thus far).

Yoshinori took the loss for Tokyo. His record now stands at 1-1, and he was lucky not to collect the loss last week that he strongly deserved.

Random notes:

The home plate umpire has a strike zone that flares fatly off the left side of the plate.

Katoh has some weird junk that he can throw as a strikeout pitch that will lock lefthanded batters up. He made Toritani look like a complete twerp in the bottom of the eighth.

Tanaka was the only Tokyo player to have a multihit game. He went 3-4 and collected the team’s only rbi.

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

  • christopheramanolangtree

    Yes Fujikawa is quite proficient at getting batters to swing at chin high strikes. Like Lim the night before he was used in a non-save situation though.