9/10/10 — Hanshin (Away)

September 10th, 2010

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 7

Hanshin Tigers 4

Streak: Won 1  Last 5: LDWLW

(Koshien Stadium)

Tokyo grabbed a much needed win at Koshien this evening–coming back from an early two run deficit to sneak one away from the now second place Tigers.

Lineup:

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. Ishikawa P

Ishikawa had his customary rough early innings and gave up two runs in the process. Arai plugged his first RBI of the evening in the first, and Murton came through with an RBI single in the second. 2-0 Hanshin.

Tokyo scraped one run back in the top of the third on the back of an Iihara solo shot (number 15 on the year) to center with two outs. 2-1 Hanshin.

And after a middle three innings that saw the birds ground into two double plays, the visiting team from Tokyo poured it on, and pulled away, in the final third of the game.

In the seventh, Hatakeyama led things off with his 12th home run of the season. 2-2.

Aikawa then kept things going with a double off of a 3-1 Fukuhara fastball. He was followed by Miyamoto who popped an early-count slider into right to put men on the corners for youngster, Kawabata.

Don’t ask me how, but the kid still has a batting average above .320, and he came through in this instance by scooping a Kubota (in for Fukuhara) forkball out of the dirt and depositing it in left field to score Aikawa from third and put the birds ahead. 3-2 Tokyo.

Ishikawa attempted a sac bunt but Miyamoto ended up getting thrown out at third for the first out with men on first and second.

Aoki loaded the bases on a full count walk which made it possible for Kawabata to score on Tanaka’s grounder to short. Kawabata made it home uncontested while Tanaka was out at first. 4-2 Tokyo.

Iihara grounded out to short to end the inning, but the birds were on top to stay.

And the momentum continued in the eighth. Whitesell led off with an infield fly-out, but Hatakeyama poked a changeup into right field to help create a headache for Hanshin’s pitcher, Watanabe.

With Fukuchi pinch running for Hatakeyama, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that he’d be taking off for second, but Watanabe attacked the strike zone while Fukuchi lingered on first. Aikawa ended up taking things into his own hands by bouncing an 0-2 changeup into right to put runners on first and second.

And then Watanabe came through was a very nicely timed wild pitch to move the runners over to second and third.

Which was all the generosity Miyamoto needed as his double to center plated both Fukuchi and Aikawa. 6-2 Tokyo.

Hanshin got one back in the bottom of that inning, but Tokyo added another in the ninth on a Takeuchi pinch hit single. 7-3.

Lim pitched the ninth and gave up a home run to start things off, but he ended up sealing the deal in a non-save situation to help preserve the win at 7-4 Final.

Ishikawa earned his 11th win of the season on six and two-thirds innings of work. He gave up two runs, both earned, off of six hits and two walks. His ERA moved slightly to 3.78 while his record improved to 11-8.

Oshimoto (3.35 ERA), Lee (10.80) and Matsuoka (2.54) were the other Tokyo pitchers to spend time on the mound. Matsuoka allowed the run in the bottom of the eighth, Oshimoto and Lee did not allow a run to cross home plate.

There were several impressive bats in the lineup this evening. Iihara, Hatakeyama and Aikawa had three hits each. Iihara and Hatakeyama both added a walk for good measure. Miyamoto also deserves praise for his 2-3 night and two RBIs.

Game two of this series is tomorrow afternoon at 2PM.

**With Yomiuri’s extra-innings walkoff win against Hiroshima this evening, Tokyo is STILL 4.5 games behind third place.

Random thoughts:

  • Chunichi has 15 games left on its regular season schedule. Tokyo has 21. In other words, anything is possible.
  • Iihara’s 15 longballs easily best his previous career best of nine in 2008.
  • Hatakeyama also had nine in 2008. His 2010 tally of 12, likewise, is a career best.
  • Ishikawa should get four, or possibly even five, more starts during Tokyo’s final 21 games. It should be interesting to see if he can beat his career best of 13 wins notched last year. It would be a remarkable feat, indeed, considering the way he started the 2010 campaign.
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