4/24/10 – Yokohama (Away)

April 24th, 2010

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 2

Yokohama BayStars 3

Streak: Lost 1   Last 5: LDLWL

(Yokohama Stadium)

Yoshinori put in a battling shift for the Swallows, but in the end Tokyo fell at the hands of the man that has grown accustomed to having his way with them in recent times, Daisuke Miura.

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

Things were never going to be easy for Tokyo facing Yokohama ace Miura. A pitcher who pretty much owned them last year, with a 4-1/1.84 record against the birds. But despite that, the 2010 version of the Swallows took an early lead against him in the top of the 1st.

Tanaka struck out to start things off, before Morioka and Aoki sneaked singles through the infield to put men on the corners for D’Antona. He hit a grounder to second, but the BayStars could only turn the out of Aoki at second, allowing Morioka home for 1-0 Tokyo. Guiel then also grounded out to end the inning with the lead at one.

Yoshinori on the other hand, had a polar oppsite record to Miura’s agains the BayStars last season (0-3/9.45), not to mention his 8 earned runs in the 2 innings he lasted in his first start against them this year. In the bottom of the 1st, a two-out single for Uchikawa and a walk for Murata put two on for Sledge who came into the game leading the game hitting with a .440 average with runners in scoring position. But Yoshinori got him to strike out to get out of the inning with his lead intact.

In the 2nd the Swallows had the chance to extend their lead. Ihara led off with a single, before moving to second on a Miyamoto groundout. Aikawa then singled to put men on the corners for Yoshinori with one out. Takada, for a reason only know to himself and the voices inside his head, called for a squeeze bunt, with Yoshinori failing to make contact and Ihara stranded between third and home. Only the incompetence of catcher Takeyama allowed Ihara to make it back to third safely (he just chased Yasushi back to third, and didn’t make the throw until it was too late), with Aikawa moving to second in the commotion. Yoshinori then struck out with Tanaka then doing the same, as he watched the last three pitches he saw, all of them strikes, and the inning was done.

Whet followed on the bottom of the 3rd were a series of events that suggest that the curse of Yokohama may be alive and well to annoy us for another year. Miura led off with a single up the middle. Ishikawa then layed down a bunt to first, which was fielded by D’Antona. He lunged to apply to the tag to the running Ishikawa, but the Yokohama player appeared to be running a couple of feet to the right of the baseline, thus the tag appeared to miss and Yokohama had two men on. Takada made a rare appearance on the field to argue that the runner took a route too far from the baseline and thus avoided the tag, but the call stood.

Realizing they were on to a good thing, Hayakawa then layed down another bunt, which took a high bounce, and Yoshinori made a mess of coming up with it and the bases were loaded with no outs and an error was charged to the pitcher. Up stepped Uchikawa and he singled to centre which brought home one runner for 1-1. Next up was Mutata who, and in another fortuitous event, hit a chopper which arrived at second but it was moving at a fair pace and it bounced off Takana’s glove, hit Morioka who was also heading to second, and bounced into the diamond.  So 2-1 Yokohama with the bases still juiced and still no outs on the board. Sledge tried again with runners on, and hit a grounder to second but the Swallows could only make the out at second, 3-1. Next up was Castillo, who grounded to short, with the double play executed to allow Tokyo to escape an inning that could have been a lot worse.

Now Miura had himself a lead, it was going to be difficult to get it away from his smirky-self, and he kept the Tokyo bats hitless from the 3rd to the 5th inning. But in the 6th the Swallows struck back. One-out singles from Aoki and D’Antona put men on the corners for Guiel . He hit to centre bringing Aoki home and leaving men on first and second for Ihara, 3-2 Yokohama. D’Antona was replaced by pinch-runner Miwa, but it was a fruitless switch as Ihara could only ground into a double play to leave Miura smirking with his lead still in place.

Miura left the game, and the BayStars’ bullpen shut down the Swallows bats until the 9th. With closer Shun Yamaguchi on the mound, one out walks for Guiel and Ihara brought Miyamoto to the plate with a chance to tie things up. But the rub of the green was again with Yokohama as he hit into a double play and the game was over, 3-2 Yokohama Final. Miura could smirk once more.

Yoshinori took the loss after his battling 6 innings of work. He gave up all the Yokohama runs off 10 hits with 5 strikeouts and 1 walk and his record is now at 1-3/5.59. Matsuoka (0.90) and Takagi (2.08) works scoreless innings in relief of their starter.

So Miura still seems to have that winning touch against Tokyo, just as he did last year. Hopefully the Swallows can put the BayStars in their rightful place tomorrow afternoon against rather less ominous starting pitching.

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