5/16/10 – Fukuoka (Home)

May 16th, 2010

Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks 6

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 5

Streak: Lost 4   Last 5: WLLLL

(Meiji Jingu Stadium)

This was never going to be easy. With Sugiuchi pitching for SoftBank, Tokyo was going to have to earn this one. But even though they lost again, the birds showed a little more fight than they have for a while, so I guess they deserve some credit for that.

Starting lineup:

1. Tanaka 2B
2. Miyamoto SS
3. Aoki CF
4. D’Antona 1B
5. Iihara LF
6. Guiel RF
7. Yoshimoto 3B
8. Aikawa C
9. Muranaka P

Kokubo’s first home run of the night quickly put Muranaka in hot water in the first inning. 2-0 SoftBank.

But then Tokyo did something that they haven’t done in quite a while–they came back.

The birds got one run in the fourth care of a couple of beanings (Aoki and Guiel) straddling a D’Antona double and culminating in a Yoshimoto sacrifice fly to center. 2-1 SoftBank.

Tokyo then managed to pull level in the sixth with the help of a bunch of bad fielding by the visiting team. All square at 2-2.

But then things got dire again in the eighth with Oshimoto on the mound for the birds. Honda singled and Ortiz drew a walk to start things off with no outs. Kokubo then came through with his second round-tripper of the night (number 10 this year) to put the Hawks back in control at 5-2.

But the Swallows fought back yet again in the bottom of that inning. D’Antona and Iihara got things going with back to back singles before Guiel leveled the game once again with a blast to right. 5-5.

Consequently, Guiel’s 12th home run of the season was the end of Sugiuchi’s night.

However, the tie would only endure for a couple more innings. After Lim pitched scoreless 9th and 10th innings, Masubuchi took the mound for the 11th. Things got bad in a real hurry as a leadoff double was followed by a sacrifice bunt.

With one out, and a man on third, Masubuchi got the second out when Kawasaki struck out chasing high heat. But Honda followed with a single that scored the go-ahead run, and it looked like Masubuchi might start crying there for a while. 6-5 SoftBank.

And that’s how the game would end as Falkenborg used his 98 MPH fastball to great effect.

Masubuchi (0-2, 1.23) took the loss for his one inning of work. Muranaka (3-4, 3.24) gave up two earned runs off of five hits in six innings.

On offense, Aoki, D’Antona and Guiel all had two-hit games.

Takada Count: 6

After staging a comeback with three huge runs in the eighth (Guiel homer), Fujimoto kept the momentum going with a single. However, it seems that Mr. Takada was tired of the momentum and decided to slow things down a bit by having Aikawa Tak-bunt Fujimoto over to second for the first out. Guess how many runs scored after that?

So let me get this straight–the birds string four hits together without a single out, and that kind of mojo should be followed by a bunt. Got it.

Random notes:

Aside from Honda’s blunders that allowed a run to score, the Hawks came up with several fine defensive plays including a couple of fine grabs in the outfield.

Tokyo has lost 10 of the 12 games that they’ve played in May.

Tokyo has three wins, one draw, and 17 losses since April 20th.

Matsuoka struck out all three batters he faced in the eighth inning.

Guiel now leads the league in HBP’s (8). Iihara is in second with seven.

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

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  • zunlin

    Doesn't Oshimoto need some rest?

  • It was pretty obvious that the 8th inning Oshimoto vs Kokubo matchup was going to end in tears. Oshimoto just didn't look confident at all and thus it was no surprise when the ball sailed out of the park.

    But nice to see a bit of fight to get back in the game, and Guiel's three run shot was all the sweeter coming after Sugiuchi's “we've just won the game” jig he did after Kokubo's previous homer.

    As it turns out they did eventually win the game, and these things are starting to seem inevitable these days.

    I fear for us against Seibu.

  • Andy G

    When Kokubo came up, Honda was on second and was doing a pretty good job of dancing around and generally making a nuisance of himself! Oshimoto looked very uncomfortable and the three or four times he span around to keep Honda in check couldn't have helped his concentration. Couldn't see the 'Sugiuchi jig' from where I was sitting, but sounds like justice was done when Guiel hit his homer then!

    I think Wakui just pitched for the Lions, so at least Swallows won't be facing him. I think he batted 3 for 4 or something silly like that and he's not a bad pitcher either! Him and Kishi are pretty unplayable at the moment, but I guess Swallows will only have to face the latter (hopefully neither).

    • Kozo

      Seibu actually has another pitcher, who is arguably having an even better season than the two you mention. Kazuyuki Hoashi who leads NPB with a 1.46 ERA, and gives up less hits and walks than Wakui. Luckily for us he pitched Sunday, and Wakui pitched Saturday, so we won't hit them the first go around. But Kishi last pitched on Wednesday, so barring sudden injury, we'll definitely see him.

  • Andy G

    Maybe, but he didn't pitch too well on Sunday against the Baystars and not as consistent as Wakui or Kishi over the past few years. Anyway, like you say, only Kishi likely to play against Swallows. Beyond those three, nothing very scary. Ishii is a bit hit and miss, and Nishiguchi is having an awful season. I reckon Swallows will take one of the games.

  • Kozo

    I dunno, Orix's Kondoh and Komatsu didn't scare me either. We've seen tons of no-name pitchers hold us to 1-2 runs this season. I'm going to take the approach not to take any pitcher lightly until we can establish that last night wasn't a fluke.