5/1/10 – Yokohama (Home)

May 1st, 2010

Yokohama BayStars 3

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 5

Streak: Won 1   Last 5: LLLLW

(Meiji Jingu Stadium)

Bizarre game. Just plain weird.

This was one of those games where Takada made a whole bunch of stupid decisions but things kept working in the team’s favor and he ended up looking like he knew what he was doing.

1. Ueda 3B
2. Morioka 2B
3. Aoki CF
4. Guiel RF
5. Iihara LF
6. Takeuchi 1B
7. Fujimoto SS
8. Aikawa C
9. Nakazawa P

Wallowing in a five game losing streak, Takada made his first interesting move of the day by not starting Tanaka or Miyamoto. Maybe they needed the day off, but unless there was a health concern involved, it’s pretty hard to justify keeping Tanaka out of the lineup. He’s the second most productive and consistent bat on the team after Aoki, so he’s one of the last people that should be benched when the team is trying to climb out of a rut.

Anyway, the Stars went up by a run in the top of the first care of a Murata single that plated Ishikawa from second. 1-0 visitors.

But Ueda, Miyamoto’s replacement, vindicated Takada by slapping the first pitch he saw into right field. Morioka, Tanaka’s replacement, followed by faithfully and effectively Tak-bunting Ueda into scoring position.

The value of the bunt was then mostly negated when Aoki took a low pitch in the leg, and Guiel moved the runners over to second and third with a ground ball to first, and Iihara made Takada look good by doubling and bringing both runners home in the process. 2-1 Tokyo.

The silly moves continued in the bottom of the second with the birds still up by a run when Aikawa Tak-bunted Fujimoto over to second after the latter had drawn a walk. Some might argue that that’s not the wisest move considering that Nakazawa, our pitcher, was waiting in the on-deck circle.

But Takada was gifted yet another ‘get out of jail free’ card when Nakazawa, who is admittedly not too shabby swinging a club, controlled the strike zone beautifully and drew a walk. But no runs scored of course.

Tokyo added three runs in the third with a little help from the Yokohama defense. Aoki reached first on a fielding error by the pitcher, and both he and Takeuchi were sent home on Fujimoto’s double to the corner in right. Shiroishi (our illustrious third base coach) probably shouldn’t have sent Takeuchi home as the ball arrived at the plate well before Takeuchi did. In fact, Takeuchi was so surprised at how easily he was about to be thrown out that he stopped running halfway between third and home.

And then the catcher forgot to catch the ball. Takeuchi safe at home despite looking like a total ass for a second there. Fujimoto later scored on Aikawa’s double to left. 5-1 Tokyo.

One more Tak-bunt was employed in the fourth even though the team was up by four runs at that point. Ueda again led off with a single, and Morioka dutifully moved him over to second. Aoki followed that with a single before Iihara took yet another HBP to load the bases with two outs.

But then Takada did another silly thing. He replaced the red-hot Takeuchi with the decidedly yawn-worthy Kinugawa to deal with the lefty (Takamiya) on the mound. Perhaps Takeuchi was being punished for not charging hard for home in the last inning, but whatever the reason, Kinugawa flied out to right to strand all three runners.

There was a little bit of excitement in the bottom of the fifth when the birds again threatened to score. Yet another fielding error allowed Fujimoto to reach first, and he was allegedly thrown out at home when he tried to score on Aikawa’s double. Fujimoto disagreed with the call and bounced up off the ground to shove the ump. In the neck. Hard. He got tossed, Takada came out to do his stoic little angry grandpa deal, and Yokohama ultimately escaped from the inning without giving up any more runs.

Nakazawa gave up one more run in the top of the seventh, and D’Antona had his first hit in quite a while pinch-hitting for the pitcher with two outs in the bottom of that frame. 5-2 Tokyo.

And things got really interesting in the top of the ninth with Lim on the mound in his first save situation in what must have felt like months. He walked the first batter he faced before getting the first out on a pop fly to a hard-charging Guiel in right. He then beaned Ishikawa to bring up the always dangerous Uchikawa who had already hit a pair of doubles earlier in the game. He connected again, this time for a single, to load the bases with one out.

Lim got the second out when he struck Murata out swinging, but then Sledge won a very hard-fought duel by drawing a walk and bouncing in a run. 5-3 Tokyo.

And at that point Takada had Matsuoka (he’s been crap recently) start warming up in the bullpen. Great idea, coach.

Anyway, Lim eventually prevailed when he struck out Castillo to end the game and prevent about 100 severe heart attacks in the right field bleachers.

The win is the first for Tokyo since April 23rd (against the BayStars) when Nakazawa last pitched. Nakazawa (3-0, 1.61) gave up two earned runs off of nine hits while striking out three and walking none. Oshimoto (1-1, 0.79) pitched a scoreless eighth, and Lim (1.13) earned his sixth save of the year.

Aikawa stepped out of character on offense and had a 2-3 day with two doubles and a single RBI.

In the end, this wasn’t a pretty win, but we’ll take it.

Takada Count: 3

Random notes:

Nakazawa gave up five doubles in his seven innings on the mound.

There were nine doubles in this game–Tokyo had four.

Iihara leads the league in HBP with 7.

Nakazawa leads the team with three wins.

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

  • I thought this game was pretty bizarre from just watching the highlights, but after reading this recap….wow. The funniest part is when you mentioned that Takada came out to do his “stoic little angry grandpa deal”, because that's totally what I imagined when I saw him get up to intervene.

    And I loved the inflatable foam fingers, even the studio people used them (for some bizarre reason):

    All in all, it's just nice to see a win, and to see us out of last pace.

  • Yep, totally weird game. And it's going to take more than one win against Yokohama to get me back excited for this season again, though they've got to start somewhere I guess. Takada is draining my enthusiasm that's for sure.

    Glad to see Lim got the job done in the end, though he made real hard work of that last inning.

    I had to leave early to be home in time to watch my “other” team lose……


    The joy of sports eh.

  • I didn't catch the highlights, but was Fujimoto safe? I would love to see a replay of that, if for no other reason than to laugh at how quickly he bounced out of the dirt and into the ump's face.

    • They go over the play at the end of the highlights Paul posted above. Fujimoto was pretty well blocked at the plate, but it doesn't look like he was tagged until well after Fujimoto touched the plate.

      • It doesn't look like Fujimoto was tagged at all. Takeyama had him well blocked, but turned to his left to make the tag, only to find that Fujimoto had already popped up and was behind him. Fujimoto touched the plate with his hand while Takeyama was trying to turn back to his right.
        Not only did Fujimoto beat the tag, it really looks like there was no tag. The ump was in front of Takeyama, probably couldn't see it, and just tossed out a call, which was very much the wrong one.

        Even if there can be no replay, there should at least be a system by which the umps are required to watch the video for training purposes. Close play at home coming? Don't position yourself so that the kneeling catcher is between you and the plate – the play will be under or behind the catcher and you won't see it.

        Man, NPB needs real, trained, professional umps. There's too much of this crap.

  • I was at this game, and Takada was terrible. However I can't believe that people would applaud for that Aikawa bunt. That was kind of depressing.