7/18/10 – Hanshin (Home)

July 18th, 2010

Hanshin Tigers 11

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 4

Streak: Lost 2   Last 5: WWWLL

(Meiji Jingu Stadium)

Yoshinori was his same annoyingly inconsistent self to start things off today. Randy Messenger, on the other hand, looked sharp for Hanshin. He needs to quit that chewing tobacco habit though.

Starting lineup:

1. Aoki CF
2. Tanaka 2B
3. Iihara LF
4. Whitesell 1B
5. Guiel RF
6. Aikawa C
7. Miyamoto 3B
8. Morioka SS
9. Yoshinori P

Amazingly, Yoshinori made it through the first three innings without giving up a run. The first inning was classic Yoshinori. He got the first two outs without too much trouble but then loaded the bases with a walk and a couple of beanballs.

He got out of the inning by fanning Kanemoto on a check swing.

He also benefited from double plays in the third and fourth innings which greatly helped his ability to keep his pitch count under control and get out of innings before things got ugly.

Even though Messenger was locating his pitches well, Iihara reached base on a one out infield single. Whitesell then brought him all the way home on a double down the rightfield line that Murton had a hard time tracking down. Whitesell ended up on second and he later scored when Aikawa poked one up the middle. 2-0 Tokyo.

Yoshinori calmed down quite a bit after those two double plays. He really found his groove in the sixth when he started throwing 157 kph heaters to Arai. When he’s on, he hits his spots and his slider has a decent amount of movement on it.

Unfortunately, that only happens for about four or five outs every time he starts.

A safety bunt by Aoki started  off the bottom of the sixth. Tanaka was ordered too Tak-bunt, but fortunately both times he made contact he fouled it off. He ended up poking one between first and second which put runners on the corners with no outs.

Sadly, Tokyo’s first base coach, Iida, found it necessary to lecture Tanaka on the finer points of bunting as he stood safely on first. It wouldn’t matter in the long run as Messenger got three quick outs after that.

A bit more comedy came in the top of the seventh when Yoshinori took to shaking off all of Aikawa’s pitch calls after Brazell had singled to start things off. His temporary bout of ballsiness resulted in a double that put runners on second and third with no outs and Johjima at the plate.

Lin then came through with a one out hit that thanks to a little bit of a fielding gamble by Aoki ended up a triple that tied the score. 2-2.

A soft Toritani grounder to second scored the third run, and and a Hirano slice along the line in left scored a fourth. 4-2 Hanshin.

And that was the end of Yoshinori’s night.

Masubuchi took the mound with two outs, an inherited runner on second, and Murton at the plate.

Murton put his stamp on the game with a homer to center that put the score at 6-2 Hanshin.

And that six run inning was basically the end of the game.

The birds scored a couple more off of an Aoki double, and Johjima tacked another one on for the visitors with a solo shot to left off of Oshimoto.

Watanabe pitched the top of the ninth for the birds—his seventh appearance of the season in a Swallows uniform. He was yanked after allowing two hits and recording only one out. Hashimoto took his place on the mound. With runners on first and third, Murton bounced one over Miyamoto’s head at third to score another run. 8-4 Hanshin.

Hashimoto then lost his ability to find the underbelly of the strike zone. He ended up putting three pitches in the dirt and Arai on first. Bases loaded for Brazell.

Yamato then cleared the bases with a triple over the drawn-in outfield. 11-4 Hanshin.

Yoshinori (5-6; 4.45 ERA) took the loss and gave up five earned runs off of seven hits. It was nice to see him make it to the seventh inning for a change, but he definitely didn’t reassure the coaching staff with his performance in that inning.

Masubuchi (3.16), Oshimoto (3.09), Watanabe (4.15) and Hashimoto (5.40) made relief appearances today. Every one of Tokyo’s four relievers gave up at least one earned run in this contest.

Aoki, Tanaka and Aikawa had two hits each in this game. Whitesell and Guiel had 1-4 evenings–each hit a stand-up double.

Random thoughts:

Watanabe’s ERA was 0.00 through his first six appearances of the season.

Hanshin scored all 11 of its runs during the final third of the game.

Fujikawa sat back down in the bullpen as soon as the save opportunity disappeared. What a novel idea.

Chunichi beat Hiroshima tonight, so the birds are now an extra game behind third place.

Fujimoto was sent down to the farm team immediately after yesterday’s game for being such a klutz on defense. Morioka, who started at short today, took his place on the active roster.

Pitchers Katoh and Matsui were sent down today while Hashimoto and Kawabata took their places. All three of the recently promoted players made appearances in today’s game. None of them did anything worth remembering.

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