6/1/10 – Fukuoka (Away)

June 1st, 2010

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 4

Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks 3

Streak: Won 1   Last 5: LDWLW

(Yahoo Dome)

With the dismal and eventful month of May finally behind them, the Tokyo Swallows headed south to Fukuoka for a run-in with the Pacific League’s wins (8) and strikeouts per nine innings (11.84) leader, Sugiuchi.

Tokyo’s lineup:

1. Aoki CF

Kawashima got the win in relief, his first of 2010.

2. Fukuchi LF
3. Guiel DH
4. D’Antona 1B
5. Iihara RF
6. Miyamoto 3B
7. Aikawa C
8. Tanaka 2B
9. Araki SS

The birds got on the board first in this game with Fukuchi’s one out double being followed by a Guiel single to center to put runners on the corners. D’Antona then lifted a sac fly to right that scored Fukuchi for 1-0 Tokyo.

Nakazawa started for the Swallows and was fine in the first inning, but things got shaky in the second when he loaded the bases with a couple of two-out walks. He got out of the jam unscathed, but there was more of the same to come.

Following D’Antona’s first inning sac fly, Sugiuchi buckled down a bit and struck out four of the next seven batters he faced. By the end of the third inning, no other Tokyo batters had reached base.

And that gave SoftBank a enough time to level the score. In the bottom of the third, Honda’s one out single was quickly followed by an Ortiz RBI double for 1-1.

But the birds came right back in the top of the fourth. Guiel doubled to lead things off, and Miyamoto drew a two out walk to keep hope alive for the visitors. Aikawa then followed up his first at-bat strikeout with an RBI single to center to make it 2-1 underbirds.

And wouldn’t you know it, the Hawks rallied in the bottom of the same frame. Matsunaka and former Swallow from way-back-when, Petagine (who turns 39 next Monday), notched back-to-back singles to induce Ogawa to pick up the ‘hook’ and start waving it in Nakazawa’s general direction. They were then sac bunted over, and even though Fukuda grounded into the second out of the inning, Nakazawa then gave up an RBI double to Kawasaki which cleared the bases. 3-2 Fukuoka.

Nakazawa walked the next batter he faced, Honda, and the hook came out. Kawashima took the mound in his stead and secured the third out of the inning care of a grounder to third.

The Tokyo bats were quiet for the next two innings, but they were able to put something together in the seventh. Aikawa led things off with a single and Tanaka sac bunted him over to second. Yoshimoto, pinch-hitting for the young Araki, then came through with a huge double to left that scored Aikawa to tie the game at 3-3.

Aikawa then scored on Aoki’s single to center to put the birds ahead for good. 4-3 Tokyo.

Matsuoka was given the chance to close this one out with Lim still recouping on the farm team. He allowed a one out infield single to Kawasaki, but he put in a solid inning overall to give the birds their second win in three games. The last time the birds did that was April 15th and 18th when Tokyo prevailed over Hiroshima and Yomiuri with an April 17th loss to the latter tucked in between.

Tonite was Matsuoka’s first save of his professional baseball career.

Kawashima (2.1 innings; 2.51 ERA) got the win for the Swallows, his first of 2010, and Masubuchi (1.98) and Oshimoto (3.43) pitched scoreless innings as well.

Guiel was the offensive player of the game going 2-3, scoring once, and getting beaned twice.

That’s how you keep your OBP up, kids.

Aikawa also deserves a hat tip as he went 2-4 with an RBI and is performing as well as anyone on the team at the plate of late.

Game two is tomorrow night in Fukuoka at 6pm.

He looks possessed. May the dark side infect everyone on the team.

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