8/4/10 – Chunichi (Home)

August 4th, 2010

Chunichi Dragons 2

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 4

Streak: Won 2   Last 5: WLLWW

(Jingu Stadium)

Lord, we stranded a lot of runners in this game. But so did the Dragons. I guess I should just be happy that we have runners to worry about at all. And the fact that we won again is nice, too.

Tonite’s lineup:

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

Ishikawa had another strong start as he recorded his seventh win of the season. But more on that later.

Unlike last night, Tokyo scored first. With two outs in the bottom of the first, Hatakeyama absolutely punished a Yamai offering into the left field stands. It was a line drive that nearly decapitated two fans in the reserved seats. 1-0 Tokyo.

The second inning was Ishikawa’s shakiest. He allowed three base runners, and was somewhat fortunate to get out of the inning having given up only one run. 1-1.

But he allowed only one more runner over the next four frames which gave his teammates enough time to build a bit of a lead for him.

The Swallows got the go-ahead run in the third. Kawabata singled before Ishikawa drew his first walk of the evening (yes, you read that correctly). Aoki then drew a walk as well to load the bases with no outs. Tanaka then came through with a single up the middle which scored Kawabata. 2-1 Tokyo.

But the momentum came to a screeching halt right then and there. The next three batters recorded somewhat easy outs and three were left languishing on base. But at leas that go-ahead run made it around. Yay, Tanaka.

The sixth was when those other two runs crossed home plate. Iihara led the festivities off by getting beaned squarely between the shoulder blades. He wasn’t pleased. However, he can be proud of the fact that his 12th beaning of the season puts him only four behind league leader, Aaron Guiel.

Number three in the league? Norichika Aoki.

Let’s raise our glasses to not getting out of the way.

Anyway, after Aikawa popped up to left, Miyamoto singled, and then Kawabata doubled. Iihara scored easily on that play. 3-1 Tokyo.

After having walked during his first two at-bats, Ishikawa decided to try his luck swinging, and he was able to work an infield single. There was a little help from some shoddy defense while trying to check Miyamoto at third and get somebody to cover first in time, but hey.

Aoki was then completely and impressively robbed by a backtracking Hidenori in center, one of the better defensive plays I’ve seen so far this year by the way, but it was enough for Miyamoto to canter home. 4-1 Swallows.

Chunichi got one back in the top of the ninth with Lim on the mound, but after surrendering that one run Tokyo’s closer was able to find his rhythm and lock down the save for himself and the win for Ishikawa. 4-2 Final.

Speaking of which, Ishikawa threw only 91 pitches in six and two-thirds innings of work. He allowed one run off of eight hits while striking out three and walking none. His ERA improved to 3.56 while his record moved to 7-8.

Masubuchi (3.00 ERA) pitched one-third of an inning in his 42nd appearance of the season, and Matsuoka (1.58) threw a full frame in his 46th game. Both relievers earned hold points, but look for a wobble by the end of this month as they hit the wall, figuratively. That is, unless we start blowing teams out like Chiba was at the beginning of this season.

Lim saw his ERA climb to 1.57, but he was able to notch his 22nd save nonetheless.

The offensive player of the game was undoubtedly Kawabata, if you can believe that. The 22 year-old shortstop looked like the real deal today at the plate going 4-4 (single, double, double, single), scoring a run, and recording an RBI for good measure.

Kawabata’s uniform number is 36 for those of you who are looking for a young, relatively unknown player on the team to support.

The Swallows sealed the series win tonight, and they are now 6.5 games behind Chunichi and that coveted playoff berth.

Game three is tomorrow night at Jingu. First pitch is at 6PM.

Random thoughts:

Miyamoto’s at-bat in the sixth was epic. It involved 11 pitches–five of which he fouled off. Iihara was being semi-pesky on first, and Yamai had no qualms keeping him honest. He tried to pick him off at least five times during Miyamoto’s at-bat. Tokyo’s veteran infielder had the last laugh, however, as he lined an outside fastball into center field.

D’Antona, who replaced Guiel on the active roster yesterday, didn’t make an appearance today in his second appearance with the top team. He struck out swinging in his pinch-hitting appearance in last night’s game.

Whitesell was 0-4 with two Ks in tonight’s game.

Perhaps it’s due to the way that the band, Whitesnake, had its name translated into Japanese that Whitesell’s name is being butchered by the chanting masses in the stands. Whitesnake works out as howaitosneiku in katakana, and therefore Whitesell is pronounced howaitoseru. Obviously, dropping the first syllable in the Japanese version would sound a lot closer to the real thing. Unfortunately, for Josh anyway, the ‘ho’ at the beginning gets a significant amount of stress in his batting chant. It sounds like a totally different name. Ho well.

A win tomorrow would put the birds only 5.5 games behind third place.

As it stands, the team is only nine games below .500. Bet you didn’t see that coming.

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