4/29/10 – Hanshin (Home)

April 29th, 2010

Hanshin Tigers 5

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 4

Streak: Lost 4   Last 5: WLLLL

(Meiji Jingu Stadium)

Tokyo took an early 3 run lead but couldn’t hold on to it as Hanshin came from behind to win at Jingu. Tonight’s loss sends the Swallows down to 5th place in the CL for the first time this season and things don’t look like improving anytime soon, especially with Takada at the helm.

Tonight’s lineup again saw D’Antona benched, with Takeuchi donning the glove at first:

  1. Tanaka (2B)
  2. Miyamoto (3B)
  3. Aoki (CF)
  4. Guiel (RF)
  5. Ihara (RF)
  6. Takeuchi (1B)
  7. Fujimoto (SS)
  8. Aikawa (C)
  9. Barnette (P)

Tonight saw Tony Barnette take the mound for Tokyo, as he looked to continue his excellent start to the year. And things looked good for him in the bottom of the 2nd, as the Swallows took the lead off Tigers starter Uezono.

With one out, a Fujimoto single and an Aikawa double followed up by a walk for Barnette loaded the bases for Tanaka. He grounded out to third, but Hanshin couldn’t turn the double play and it was 1-0 with men on the corners. Miyamoto then stepped up and hit one off the wall in right, clearing the bases with a triple and it was 3-0 Tokyo.

Hanshin pulled a run back in the 4th via and Johjima solo homer and it was 3-1. Two hits and a walk followed but Tony escaped the inning with the lead still at two.

The three run lead was restored in the 5th. Miyamoto hit one to left, but catcher turned outfielder Kano let the ball past him and Miymoto ended up at third thanks to the error. Aoki then brought him home with a sac fly and it was 4-1.

And so to the 6th, and things started to go very wrong for the Swallows.  Three consecutive one-out singles made it 4-2 and Takada made the switch from the bullpen as Matsuoka took the mound. But the switch made little difference as two more singles scored two more runs (all charged to Barnette) to tie things up at 4-4.

Barnette finished his evening, not one of his best, having given up the 4 runs off 9 hits, with 4 strikeouts and 4 walks. His record remains at 2-1 with his ERA now at 2.59.

And Hanshin took the decisive lead in the 7th with Masubuchi on the mound. A single and an error from the pitcher (messing up a throw to second) with a walk loaded the bases with one out. The excellent Murton then hit a grounder to first, but he beat the double play ball to the bag and it was 5-4 Hanshin.

And then Tokyo, weighted down by the lead-weight that is Takada, had to try to chase the game. In the 7th, Ueda in for the pitcher singled to lead off the inning (his first pro-hit). But Takada called for the in-form Tanaka to tak-bunt and well, you know what followed (hint: the runner never made it home).

In the 9th facing ace closer Fujikawa, Fujimoto hit a triple (aided by a mess up from leftfielder Sakurai) to give the Swallows a chance to draw level. Takada then showed his genius man management by putting in Kawamoto in place of Aikawa (the same Aikawa who had doubled earlier in the game) who then promptly grounded out to short. One out, runner still on third. Next more genius from the manager by bringing in D’Antona to pinch hit, a man who is in the midst of a slump and possibly low on confidence, so let’s put him in for a make or break chance in the 9th against Japan’s premier closer. He struck out. Way to go Takada. Why not put him in from the start or earlier in the game to let him play his way back to form? Bringing him in for random (often high pressure) pinch hit appearances is not the way to use him, as proved during the tail end of last year when the same player was being mistreated/managed by the same boneheaded manager.

Tanaka then flew out and that was that. So then, two more things to mention about this game.

5-4 Hanshin Final.

TAKADA COUNT: 2. Because he’s a f******* useless c***. Other fans in the Jingu bleachers are starting to realise this. Hopefully the front office will wise up fast.

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

  • This game was so painful to watch in the extended highlights, even more so than that past few losses. Simply because it was so close, it was so mismanaged, and now we're only a tie away from falling behind the Carp for last place in the league. I thought the D'Antona call was pretty bad, too. I'd rather have a slap hitter in there at that point than a home-run guy, because there's too much risk of easily caught fly ball or a stupid strikeout. And you can't help but blame Matsuoka, either.

    Ugh. In any case, hopefully the team either does so bad that Takada is finally forced to be fired, or we pick it up in our series against the Bay Stars. Either way, I'm happy.

  • When I was on the train the other day, the guy next to me was reading a sports rag that prominently featured an article speculating that the Swallows would fire Takada in favour of Senichi Hoshino.

    • Hoshino wouldn't be my first choice, but, at this point, at least Takada would be gone. I don't see why the Swallows won't consider a manager who doesn't have a proven track record of playing by outdated superstition.