6/4/10 – Saitama (Home)

June 4th, 2010

Saitama Seibu Lions 6

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 12

Streak: Won 1   Last 5: WLWLW

(Meiji Jingu Stadium)

After splitting their last two series, Tokyo continued with their improvement under Ogawa as they notched up an extremely impressive victory over the formidable Seibu Lions. The victory was all the more impressive considering it came against Saitama’s starter Hoashi, who was coming into the game with a PL leading ERA of 1.67. The game was also notable for the return of Tony Barnette to the starting rotation, and the American put in a performance more akin to his excellent early season form rather than his recent struggles, as he registered his third win of the year.

Tonight’s Tokyo nine looked like this, with Aikawa edging up the lineup due to his recent un-Aikawa like batting performances:

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

Tokyo struck first in the bottom of the 3rd, with Miyamoto reaching base via a walk, and after being moved around by a (excellent) Barnette sacbunt he was brought home to score with a Aoki double, 1-0 Tokyo.

But it was in the 5th when the Swallows would really make their mark on the game. Aikawa led off the inning with a double, and a groundout from Miyamoto put him at third, but he was out at home after another grounder from Fujimoto which left a man on first with two outs. And it was then that Tokyo inflicted their damage. Barnette singled to right to put men on the corners before Yakult were aided by a bit of Lions comedy. Aoki hit a fly ball to leftfield which was horribly, horribly misjudged by the Seibu leftfielder Brown, who let the ball bounce over his head as he jumped/flailed in vain, and then made a hash of handing the ball after he had chased it down. The error allowed two runs to score for 3-0, with Aoki now at second. Tanaka then singled to put men on the corners once more, this time for Guiel, and the Canadian drilled one over the fence in right (no.14 for the year) and it was 6-0 Tokyo. D’Antona did try to get in on the act with a double, but an Ihara groundout ended the inning with the lead still at six.

A Nakajima double and a Kuriyama single put Seibu on the board in the 6th for 6-1 and they made it 6-2 in the top of the 8th with a Brown solo homer (off Oshimoto), but the Swallows put an exclamation mark on their performance with another big inning in the 8th.

With reliver Taninaka on the mound, Aikawa got things started with a solo homer to left for 7-1. Walks for Miyamoto and Fujimoto saw Hoshino replace Taninaka on the mound, but the change made little difference to the Lions’ fortunes as he hit hit the pinch-hitting Takeuchi in the leg to load the bases with no-outs for Aoki.

He hit a single to left (8-2) before Tanaka put one up the middle (10-2) and finally Brown helped the cause again by making a mess of fielding a Guiel fly to left, but it was ruled a hit and Aaron had himself a double and Tokyo a 12-2 lead.

Lee made a complete hash of the 9th inning, with a walk, a single and a dead-ball setting the scene for a cameo appearance off the bench from fatty-boom-boom Nakamura who hit a grandslam to left that made it 12-6. Matsuoka was summoned to bring it home, and he did with two strikeouts for 12-6 Tokyo Final.

Barnette took the win for his 5 2/3 inning 6 hit, 6 K performance which put his record at 3-4/4.94.

Tokyo racked up 13 hits, with Aoki (.302), Guiel (.226) and Aikawa (.292!!) managing 3 each, and Tanaka (.280) 2. Those four were responsible for all of the team’s RBIs, with Guiel bringing home the lion’s share (5) of them (no pun intended).

Aikawa deserves special mention for his exploits with the bat in recent weeks. Maybe he just really hated Takada?

And the team as a whole also deserve praise as they’re starting to finally shake off the shackles of the Takada-era and starting to play more to their true level. There are a lot more smiles evident on both the field and the bench, not least on the face of Ogawa. It’s nice to see a real human leading the team after the blinking android that was Takada.

Maybe we’ll be able to celebrate our first series win since god knows when tomorrow afternoon as Seibu return to Jingu. Or maybe I’ve just cursed it. Sorry.

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

  • What's going on? Jason Donald is safe at first in Detroit and Tokyo wins two in a row? I'm looking for Rod Serling.

    • Kozo

      We haven't won two in a row yet…

  • First win at Jingu since May 1st when the birds beat Yokohama 5-3.