7/17/10 – Hanshin (Home)

July 17th, 2010

Hanshin Tigers 9

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 5

Streak: Lost 1  Last 5: WWWWL

(Meiji Jingu Stadium)

All good things must come to an end, as the Birds ended their season-high 6 game winning streak without putting up too much of a fight against the Hanshin Tigers. The Swallows fielded a somewhat awkward lineup that featured Hatakeyama in left field and Kawamoto at catcher.

  1. Aoki (CF)
  2. Tanaka (2B)
  3. Iihara (RF)
  4. Whitesell (1B)
  5. Hatakeyama (LF)
  6. Miyamoto (3B)
  7. Kawamoto (C)
  8. Onizaki (SS)
  9. Kato (P)

Mikinori Kato was roughed up by the Hanshin Tigers

Mikinori Kato was making his second start as a fill-in starter, and the prevailing theory in the outfield stands was that Kawamoto was given the start because the two were battery-mates at Toda. Hatakeyama’s start at left was possibility that was being floated around by Ogawa earlier in the week. The results were not pretty…

The scoring began in the second inning. Kato issued a 4 pitch walk to Arai to begin the inning. 2 outs later, Kenji Johjima belted a low fast ball into the left field stands. 2-0 Tigers

The Tigers struck again in the third, when the red-hot Matt Murton hit a bases-clearing double with men on second and third. 4-0 Tigers. Arai followed Murton with a home run into left. 6-0 Tigers. Kato was pulled after the Arai home run, and was replaced by Takaichi.

The Swallows finally got a run back in the bottom of the third. Aoki got the Swallows’ first hit of the game with 1 out. He moved to third on a wild pitch, and he scored on another wild pitch a few pitches later. 6-1 Tigers.

There was a little drama in the top of the forth when the Tiger’s Hirano grounded out with two outs. Hirano slid head-first into the base and was immediately called out. He was promptly ejected when he threw his helmet to the ground in disgust. The Tiger’s batting coach Wada came off the bench to argue the call, and was ejected when he grabbed the first base ump’s collar. A truly bizarre sequence of events, that may have elicited the greatest cheers for the Swallows faithful tonight.

The Tigers increased their lead in the fifth, when Murton and Asai opened the inning with a single and double, respectively. Both runners came around to score on back-to-back ground outs by Brazell and Kanemoto. 8-1 Tigers.

The Swallows showed a bit of life in the bottom of the inning. Ueda, who was pinch hitting for Takaichi, got on base via a dead ball. Tanaka got on base via walk to make it two out, two on, with Iihara at the plate. Iihara managed to hit the ball into right field that hit the foul pole for a home run. 8-4 Tigers.

Kosuke Matsui who came into pitch the next inning gave the momentum back to the Tigers. Matsui managed to get two quick outs via a grounder and a strikeout (the first for a Swallows pitcher tonight). Things got messy when Matsui walked Toritani, and he was allowed to advance to third on a bad throw by Kawamoto on a steal attempt. Matsui walked Yamato, bringing Murton to the plate. Murton got a single to stretch the lead. 9-4 Tigers.

The Swallows got another run back in the eighth. Guiel, pinch hitting for Matsui, managed to get a bloop double to left, that was somewhat reminiscent of Aikawa’s triple  from last night. He was cashed in by Miyamoto’s single to right. 9-5 Tigers.

Watanabe came into pitch the ninth. The Swallows finally managed to chase the Tigers’ starter, Kubo, by getting back-to-back singles with two outs in the ninth inning. The Tigers ended the night by sending in Fujikawa to get the last out.

After games like this one, it’s important to remember that baseball season is long and you can’t expect to win every game. While the Swallows didn’t necessarily do everything possible to win today, they didn’t do anything to hurt their chances to win tomorrow and beyond. The Swallows managed to keep the top portion of our bullpen rested, and Aikawa was given a night off. There’s no reason to believe we can’t bounce back tomorrow and take the series against the Tigers.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • Hatakeyama looked uncomfortable fielding in left, and I don’t expect to see him back there tomorrow.
  • The Swallows gave up a hit to the Tigers in every inning except the ninth. Although Watanabe did walk a man in the ninth.
  • Aoki bounced back from his hit-less game last night to go 3-for-5 with a triple.
  • Kubo pitched 155 (!) pitches in his 8 and 2/3 innings. He struck out 10, and gave up 7 hits, 4 walks, and a hit batsman.
  • The Swallows only managed to get 2 strikeouts, both by Matsui.
About Kozo Ota

Kozo Ota is a third-generation Swallows fan that grew up on Montreal Expos baseball. (You can read more about that here.) When he's not at Jingu, he works as a freelance translator/interpreter to make enough money to go to Jingu. You can find random posts by Kozo on Google+ and Twitter.