5/30/10 – Orix (Away)

May 30th, 2010

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 1

Orix Buffaloes 3

Streak: Lost 1   Last 5: LLDWL

(Skymark Stadium)

Tokyo ended a 10-game winless skid last night when the bats finally came alive and Ishikawa got his long-awaited first win of the season. But today saw the team revert back to regularly scheduled programming.

This afternoon’s starting lineup:

1. Aoki CF
2. Fukuchi LF
3. Guiel RF
4. D’Antona DH
5. Takeuchi 1B
6. Miyamoto 3B
7. Fukukawa C
8. Fujimoto SS
9. Tanaka 2B

Yoshinori took the mound for the Swallows, his first start of May, and was his usual, inconsistent self for most of the time. At times he was locked in, but otherwise he was frustratingly inept at keeping his pitches down–or anywhere near where Fukukawa was calling for them. That said, the youngster was able to keep things largely under control through five. He gave up just one run off of six hits (100 pitches) and tallied four K’s against one walk in putting together what looks a bit better on paper than it did on TV.

In Yoshinori’s defense, however, his performance in the sixth and seventh innings were considerably better than much of what had preceded.

I’m not entirely sure why Aikawa was given a rest today as he’s been hitting quite well of late. The rest of the lineup was absolutely quiet, save for Tanaka, through the first six frames as Orix’s starter, Yamamoto, was forced to throw just 60 pitches.

Orix scored first in the second inning when Hidaka went yard. 1-0 Orix.

The Swallows didn’t get their second hit of the game until the seventh when Fukuchi led off with a single. Guiel popped up in foul territory for the second time today for the first out which brought D’Antona to the plate. Fukuchi stole second uncontested on the first pitch, and then D’Antona drew a walk after three more pitches.

Ogawa then put Hatakeyama in to pinch hit for Takeuchi, who hasn’t had the best of luck this season against lefties, but Orix manager Okada reacted by pulling Yamamoto in favor of righty, Hirano. Unfortunately, Hatakeyama struck out swinging at a surprisingly high forkball for out number two. Miyamoto sat down in similar fashion to put a stop to what was Tokyo’s best chance of the game up to that point.

It's been one of those months for Tokyo.

Things started to fall apart a little bit in the 8th inning with Oshimoto on the mound. A leadoff single, sac bunt, triple (over Aoki’s head), and sac fly (decent catch by Aoki) later it was 3-0 Orix.

With a three run deficit and things looking pretty dire for the birds, Aoki led the ninth off with a sliced double that actually bounced off of third base. Fukuchi went down swinging at an outside forkball before Guiel singled to center to bring home Tokyo’s only run of the game. D’Antona then lined out authoritatively to right and Hatakeyama hit a weak, first-pitch bobbler back to the pitcher to put the kaibosh on the rally. 3-1 Final.

Yoshinori took the loss for his 123 pitch effort. Despite having a propensity for allowing the count to continually get worked full, he had a much better day than Tokyo fans have become used to this season. His seven inning, six hit, one run effort was arguably his best of the year. Unfortunately, however, Orix’s Yamamoto had an even better day and kept the Tokyo offense almost completely at bay.

Although his record now sits at 1-5, his ERA dropped from 6.25 to a slightly more palatable 5.44 in his seventh start of the season. Furthermore, the fact that his RIP for this game was 1.00 is definitely encouraging for the Jingu faithful. Hopefully he can reward Araki and Ogawa’s faith in him by putting together quality starts on a more regular basis (and against better opponents).

Oshimoto was perhaps a bit unlucky in being tagged with those two earned runs in the eighth. If Aoki hadn’t been drawn in quite so far, he might have gotten to what ended up being an RBI triple. However, it cannot be denied that Oshimoto had two of his pitches end up on the warning track in the space of about four pitches. Anyway, Oshimoto (1-3) saw his ERA blossom considerably to 3.60 after his 20th appearance of the season.

The birds now head south to face the Fukuoka (Softbank) Hawks on Tuesday in what will hopefully the start to a much more enjoyable month for Swallows fans than May has been.

Random notes:

Tanaka and Fukuchi were the only two players to reach base twice.

Tokyo was 3-15-1 in May.

D’Antona’s slugging percentage (.420) is now two points below Aoki’s. And Aoki hasn’t been hitting very well this month.

Fukuchi now leads the team with eight stolen bases. Aoki has seven.

Tokyo dropped the interleague series to Orix three games to one.

Orix were dressed in some snazzy throwback BlueWave uniforms for this game at Skymark Stadium.

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