4/15/10 – Hiroshima (Away)

April 15th, 2010

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 2

Hiroshima Toyo Carp 1

Streak: Won 1   Last 5: LLLLW

(Mazda Stadium)

With Maeda taking the mound for the Carp in this game, the same pitcher who shut down the Swallows offence with ease the week before, it was looking odds on that Tokyo would add their first swept series loss to the list of unwanted firsts they’d accumulated in the last two weeks. And for a while, it looked as though Maeda would have his way with the Tokyo bats once more, as he restricted the slumping Swallows to just one hit over the first 6 innings while striking out 7 (aided, it must be said, from some rather dodgy calls from behind the plate). But Tokyo would finally get some timely hits as they came back from an early Carp lead to earn a hard fought victory to stop the rot.

Takada’s re-jigged line-up remained from the night before with Nakamura keeping his place behind the plate:

  1. Aoki (CF)
  2. Tanaka (2B)
  3. Ihara (LF)
  4. Guiel (RF)
  5. Miyamoto (3B)
  6. D’Antona (1B)
  7. Fujimoto (SS)
  8. Nakamura (C)
  9. Barnette (P)
Tony Barnette started for Yakult, coming into the game with his record at 2-0 and a team low ERA. But Hiroshima, with a little luck (as is their way), took an early lead in the bottom of the 1st. Higashide got on base via a broken bat bloop single and was later brought home by a Kurihara sacrifice fly, 1-0 Hiroshima.

After that, he pitched his 7 innings without allowing any more runs, and left the game having restricted the Carp to just 4 hits with 8 strikeouts and 2 walks. He ended up with a no decision, and his record remains at 2-0 with his ERA shrinking to a Central League leading 1.80. Tony has made a quite (and quietly) magnificent start to his Swallows career, which is just as well given the state of some of our more regular rotation mainstays (Ishikawa, sort it out).
The Tokyo bats did have a couple of chances to get back in the game during Barnette’s time on the moundm but the trend of marooning men continued. Guiel made it to second after a leadoff single and the inevitable Tak-Bunt in the 2nd , but he was thrown out trying to make it to third on a D’Antona flyout to right. In the 4th, an Aoki walk and a sore plunked arm for Ihara put men on first and second with one out, but a Guiel flyout and a Miyamoto strikeout left them there.
But Maeda wouln’t manage to escape in the 7th, though he almost did just that. Singles from Ihara, Miyamoto and D’Antona loaded the bases with one out for Fujimoto. He hit a grounder to second, the Carp infield made the out at second and threw to first as Maeda started to walk off the mound thinking he’s got out of the jam. But he hadn’t. A diving Fujimoto made it to first before the ball, meaning Ihara scored to tie things up at 1-1. With men on the corners with two outs, Takeuchi then struck out pinch hitting for Nakamura to revert the Swallows back to their recent art of stranding men with gusto.
Maeda was back for a hitless 8th with Oshimoto (1.23) doing the same in relief of Barnette for Tokyo in the bottom of the inning. And so it was on to the 9th as Shinoda took the mound in relief for Hiroshima. And he continued where his starter left off, making swift work out of Ihara and Guiel to put two red lights on the scoreboard. But he then walked Miyamoto which brought up D’Antona. Jamie hit the second pitch he saw to right, and as the ball rolled to the outfield wall, Miyamoto powered around the bases and made it home to make it 2-1 Tokyo. Not too shabby for a 39 year old.

In came Lim (0.00) to work a perfect shift in the bottom of the 9th and Lim had himself his 4th save (and first for quite some time) and the Swallows snapped their losing streak at four, 2-1 Tokyo Final. Oshimoto took the win in relief to even his record at 1-1.

Aoki went 0 for 3 with a walk and his average is now at .386. D’Antona’s game winning RBI was his team leading 19th of the year (Aoki is 2nd with 13, Guiel has 11) and his average now sits at .304 after going 2 for 4 this evening. Nakamura was hitless in his two plate appearances (both strikeouts).
The win puts Tokyo back at .500 for the year, 0.5 games back of 3rd place Hanshin and 2 back of the joint CL leading Yomiuri and Chunichi.
They get a day off tomorrow to think winning thoughts in preparation for facing Yomiuri in a two game “home” series in Matsuyama from Saturday.
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