4/22/10 – Chunichi (Away)

April 22nd, 2010

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 1

Chunichi Dragons 3

Streak: Lost 1   Last 5: LWLDL

(Nagoya Dome)

The right ingredients were mostly there: another good start from Tony Barnette and 8 hits for the Swallows to the Dragons 6. But the one thing missing was the one thing that has plagued Tokyo for the last few weeks – the inability to string hits together and develop the momentum to bring home runs. For all of these games in Nagoya this week, the starters have done their level best to give the team a chance to win, but at the moment things are just not working at the offensive end of the team.

Tonight’s lineup saw just one change from the re-jigged version from the night before, with Morioka coming in at short for Fujimoto:

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

After getting a hit off Chunichi starter Yoshimi in each of the first three innings and stranding a runner in scoring position each time, Ihara took matters into his own hands in the 4th, hitting a one-out solo homer to left (his first of the year) to make it 1-0 Tokyo.

Barnette gave up just one hit over his first three, but saw the lead slip straight out of his hands in the bottom of the 4th. Consecutive doubles from Morino and Blanco made it 1-1, and then two outs later, with Blanco now on third, an Aikawa passed ball needlessly allowed the go-ahead run home to make it 2-1 Chunichi.

Tokyo’s next chance to get back in the game came in the 6th. Finally the Swallows strung together some hits with singles from Aoki and Guiel put two on with no outs for Ihara. The same Ihara who hit a home run off Yoshimi early in the game, so give him the sign to swing away right? Wrong. Not with Takada in da house. No, he called for a sac/tak bunt to move the runners along, which Ihara just about pulled off for out number one. Momentum deflated. Next man up D’Antona, a man who, despite his home run last night, hasn’t been in the best of form of late, could only strike out for out number two. Aikawa then did the same an the inning was over with the runners stranded.

Another chance came and went in the top of the 8th. Ihara came to bat with two outs on the board, and hit one deep to the wall in left centre. Chunichi centre fielder Cesar got his glove to the ball while running back towards the wall, but he couldn’t come up with it before he ran into the wall and fell over, allowing Ihara to make it to third. It was rather harshly judged to be an error to Cesar. But it made no difference as D’Antona then struck out once more to leave Ihara at third.

And in the bottom of the 8th, Chunichi would make sure of their victory. With Takagi on the mound having also worked the 7th, Tony Blanco hit a solo homer to left to make it 3-1 Chunichi.

Iwase came in for his nightly shift in the 9th, but allowed a two-out single to Tanaka which brought up Hatakeyama (pinch hitting for Morioka). After laying off two balls, and watching another pitch for a strike, he clubbed one to right that left the field, only it was just to the right of the foul pole and the comeback wasn’t to be. He then grounded out on the next pitch and it was all over 3-1 Chunichi Final.

Barrnette took the loss, despite his decent 6 innings of 4 hit 2 run (1 earned) baseball. He struck out 4 and walked three, and his record now stands at 2-1/1.73.

Tanaka was again the only batter in any kind of form, going 3 for 5 with his average now at a very healthy .344.

Coming into today’s game the duo of Aaron Guiel and Jamie D’Antona were in the midst of quite a slump. Guiel was 2 for 34, and D’Antona 4 for 36, which is bad enough in itself. But factor in 15 Ks for Aaron and 18 for Jamie and you can see a big factor in Tokyo’s recent offensive impotence.

Both managed a hit each this evening though, however D’Antona’s usual knack for bringing home men was nowhere to be seen tonight with his two Ks with men in scoring positions. Guiel is currently batting .218 with D’Antona on .258. Hopefully they can both re-discover some of their early season form sharpish.

So two losses and a draw in Nagoya, not great. But there are reasons for optimism. All three of these games with this very decent Chunichi team were very close affairs, with not a great deal between the two teams. Plus the pitching, both starting and in relief is definitely doing it’s bit. Those bats just need some viagra. Oh shit, and there’s Takada at the helm which just brings the optimism needle back down again. Oh well.

From here, Tokyo head to Yokohama for three games starting tomorrow evening. Hopefully the curse of Yokohama has been firmly left in 2009.

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

  • After tonights game, Sponichi wrote that the “takbunt” is mounting pressure on the batters that follow.
    http://www.sponichi.co.jp/baseball/flash/KFullF
    It seems the mainstream media is more blatently critical of Takada than years past. Rightfully so.

    • Right. His tactics just aren't built to get us out of a slump as the constant bunting simply won't allow any momentum, and thus confidence to build.

      A guy coming up after a bunt already in a slump and low on confidence, and with an extra out on the board at the whim of the manager, would likely feel more pressure. Especially when it happens so often. And it's a tactic that's blatantly not working.

      I rarely mention it in reports these days as I'm kind of numb after it seeing it so often but it pretty much is every time we get a leadoff guy on the bunt is called for. And using tonight as an example we got a grand total of 0 runs home to show for those moved along runners.

      I'm just glad the Japanese press is beginning to wise up to his shit.

      So having said all that, I'm going to invoke it for the first time this year (probably long overdue):

      TAKADA COUNT: 1

      • His tactics? He doesn't have tactics. As he's always done, he calls for the sac bunt b/c he knows no other plays.

        Given that the world of Japanese baseball is excessively forgiving of the sac bunt, this is a great sign – maybe some pressure can be built up to get a manager who actually knows something about baseball instead of merely having people say he's knowledgeable because he played on a good team when he was young.

        Takada as great manager is akin to saying Kirk Hammett is a great luthier.

  • Forgot to mention this. Aoki pulled up after his infield single in the 6th and had to leave the field for a short while to get it taped up.

    It seems it was a minor sprain of the left ankle. Let's pray it's not so serious as the last thing we need at this moment in time is an Aoki-free spell.