8/15/10 – Hanshin (Away)

August 15th, 2010

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 6

Hanshin Tigers 9

Streak: Lost 2   Last 5: WWWLL

(Osaka Kyocera Dome)

In a game that saw multiple shifts of momentum, the Swallows take the loss after Matsuoka finally breaks down from overuse.

  1. Aoki CF
  2. Tanaka 2B
  3. Iihara RF
  4. Whitesell 1B
  5. Hatakeyama LF
  6. Aikawa C
  7. MIyamoto 3B
  8. Kawabata SS
  9. Barnette P

The Tigers started the aging Shimoynagi to go against the erratic Barnette. Neither starter fared particularly well and it fell on the bullpen to win the game.

The Birds struck first in the top of the second when Aikawa deposited the third pitch he saw over the left-center field fence. 1-0 Swallows

The Tigers came back just as quickly as when Arai blasted a shot into the right field stands to lead off the bottom of the inning. After Barnette struck out Brazell, old man Kanemoto continued his hot hitting against the Swallows by hitting his own dinger to right. 2-1 Tigers

The Tigers widened their lead in the third when Murton lead off the inning with a home run. 3-1 Tigers Hirano and Toritani followed with a triple and walk respectively, spelling trouble for Barnette. Barnette managed to get Arai to strike out, but wasn’t able to get out of the jam. Barnette allowed back-to-back singles to Brazell and Kanemoto that scored a run each. 5-1 Tigers Barnette managed to get out of the inning by getting Johjima and Lin to fly out to the infield, but it was clear Tony was done for the night.

In the top of the fourth, after Aikawa struck out for the first out of the inning, Miyamoto, Kawabata and D’Antona (hitting for Barnette) hit 3 consecutive doubles to close the gap. 5-3 Tigers

Minoru Yamagishi, acquired via trade in June, made his Swallows debut in the bottom of the inning. D’Antona stayed in the game in left field. Yamagishi held the Tigers off the board, and paved the way for the Swallows’ comeback. Iihara and Whitesell leadoff the top of the fifth with back-to-back singles, chasing Shimoyanagi from the game. Ando came out to replace Shimoyanagi. Yamagishi bunted the runner into scoring position to set the tables for Aikawa. After battling Ando for a good pitch, Aikawa got a clean hit into left, scoring both runners. Tied 5-5 The Birds weren’t able to take the lead, but momentum was now clearly in their favor.

Yamagishi locked down the Tigers in the bottom of the fifth with a little help from a diving catch by Kawabata. D’Antona came up in the top of the sixth to face Nishimura. After battling for 7 pitches, Jamie took Nishimura’s eighth pitch, a fastball high in the zone, and deposited it past the center field wall. 6-5 Swallows The Swallows managed to get two more runners on base after D’Antona’s blast but were not able to cash them in.

Masubuchi pitched the next two innings for the Swallows, and despite walks in each inning pitched, he held the Tigers off effectively. Meanwhile, the Tigers brought out Kubota to pitch the seventh and eighth innings. He, like Masubuchi, held the Swallows off the board and was quite effective. With the Swallows unable to spread their lead, and all signs pointing to a Matsuoka appearance in the eighth, I felt very uneasy…

Kawabata's error in the eighth did not help the already shaky Matsuoka

As predicted, the Swallows ran Matsuoka out on the mound to make his 7th appearance in 9 days. Things did not start out well as Matsuoka conceded a double to Arai to lead off the inning. An error by Kawabata, allowed Brazell to get on base safely, making it no out with men on first and second. Kanemoto comes up and gets the tying run to score with a single to right. Tied at 6-6 Still with no outs, Johjima gets the Tigers’ the lead with a double that scores the man on third. 7-6 Tigers With no out and men in scoring position, Matsuoka gets his first out by getting Lin to fly out to shallow left. Sekimoto, the next batter, hitting for Kubota grounds out to short, and the Swallows manage to get an out at the plate. With two out and with men on first and third, I start to feel hopeful that Matsuoka could escape the inning only down 1 run. Those hopes are quickly dashed when Sekimoto steals second, and Murton hits a double to score both runners. 9-6 Tigers At this point, Watanabe is brought in to finish the inning. While he allows Hirano to reach base on an error, he gets Toritani to pop out to end the inning. But the damage was already done.

The Tigers brought out Fujikawa, and beyond a Fukuchi single, the Swallows went down without much of a fight.

Notes

  • Tonight, Matsuoka made his 10th appearance of the month. To put that number in perspective, Matsuoka made 11 appearances last month, a month with more rest days due to rain outs and the All Star break. At the current pace, Matsuoka would make 20 appearances this month. Hopefully tonight’s debacle will give management the necessary excuse to take Matsuoka off the active roster and give him the R & R he needs and deserves.
  • Because of Kawabata’s error, Matsuoka was only charged with 1 earned run.
  • 4 out of the 5 home runs tonight lead off the inning.
  • Kanemoto, who went 3-for-4 with a homerun and 3 RBIs, continues to hit well against the Swallows. He’s hit .341 with 4 homeruns and 13 RBIs against the Birds this season. Looking at his team splits, we’re the only team that he has had any real success against this season.
  • I’m still confident that we can beat the Tigers with the front end of our starting rotation, but the uncertainty in the back end of our rotation is something that worries me.
  • The Swallows will have a day off tomorrow, and will look to rebound with a 3 game series against the Carp in Hiroshima starting Tuesday.

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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.