9/12/10 — Hanshin (Away)

September 12th, 2010

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 0

Hanshin Tigers 5

Streak: Lost 1  Last 5: WLWWL

(Koshien Stadium)

After coming from behind to beat the Tigers in Koshien on Friday and Saturday, the Swallows can’t make it three in a row as they get completely locked down by the Tigers’ 19 year-old rookie Akiyama. Akiyama pitched a complete game shutout in only 93 pitches, allowing only 4 hits and no walks, in his Koshien debut. The Swallows started Muranaka on 4 days rest. Muranaka didn’t pitch badly, but had the one bad early inning that many Swallows starters seem to have these days.

Our 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. Muranaka P

The Tigers’ struck immediately in the bottom of the first inning when Toritani doubled home Hirano, who had gotten on via a single. Arai continued the assault by lining a hanging curveball into left to bring home Toritani. A Brazell single put men on the corners with only one out. Muranaka was able to settle down and got Kanemoto and Johjima out to limit the damage to 2 runs. 2-0 Tigers

From that point on it was all pitching. Both pitchers managed to keep the opponents to under 4 batters up until the bottom of the seventh inning. The bottom of the seventh inning was the epitome of sloppy play on the part of the Swallows. First, Muranaka opens the inning by plunking Kanemoto in the back, after pitching him to a full count. Luckily that mistake was erased when Kanemoto’s pinch-runner Uemura gets caught by Aikawa attempting to steal second. It looked like Muranaka had gotten out #2 when he got Johjima to fly out to left. Hatakeyama, playing left field, positioned himself comfortably a few feet from the warning track and looked like he was ready to catch the ball. But in a shock to viewers watching at home, Hatakeyama flinched/jumped at the last minute, and viewers were left watching the ball go over Hatakeyama’s head. Since Hatakeyama never actually touched the ball he misjudged, the play was ruled a double. So with one out, this becomes important in a second, Muranaka faced the light-hitting Shunsuke Fujikawa. Fujikawa battled Muranaka hard fouling off many pitches but ultimately he succumbed to a foul out to the first baseman. Those of you reading at home, using your powers of reasoning, probably assumed that the situation was now two outs with a man on second. Unfortunately it seems our esteemed first baseman, Josh Whitesell, thought he had caught the third out of the inning. While Whitesell began trotting back towards the dugout, Johjima wisely tagged up and reached third. So with two out and a man on third, Muranaka faced Akiyama the pitcher. Akiyama, however, is not a light hitting pitcher. Despite throwing right, Akiyama bats lefty and is still fresh off a high school career that saw him hit 48 career homeruns. So it really wasn’t too much of a surprise to see Akayama take Muranaka’s second pitch and hit it sharply to left field, allowing Johjima to score easily. Muranaka was pulled at this point, Watanabe was brought in, and the absurdity didn’t stop there. Murton kept the Tigers going by hitting Watanabe’s first pitch right back up the middle. Aoki, who was playing shallow, charges at the ball laterally. The Tigers’ third base coach stops Akiyama at third on the assumption that Aoki will field the ball routinely and toss it back into the infield. But of course, this wasn’t that kind of inning, Aoki misplays the ball and the Tigers wave in Akiyama for another run. Watanabe manages to end the inning by getting Toritani to strike out swinging. 4-0 Tigers

The Swallows committed 3 bone-headed plays in that inning, but only the Aoki misplay will be recorded on the score sheet as an error. The inning killed any semblance of momentum the Swallows could have pretended to have, and Akiyama continued to pitch from a position of control. The Tigers added another run against Hashimoto in the bottom of the eighth to make it 5-0 Tigers.

Notes

  • Muranaka pitched 6 and 2/3 innings allowing 4 runs, 3 earned, 9 hits, 1 walk, and 1 dead ball.
  • Aoki managed 2 hits off Akiyama, a single and double. The only other Swallows to get hits against Akiyama were Kawabata (double in the fifth), and Miyamoto (single in the eighth).
  • With the Swallows’ loss today, and the Giants’ win against the Carp, the Swallows are now 5.5 games behind the third-place Giants.
  • The Swallows will begin a 3 game series against the Giants at Jingu on Tuesday. Needless to say, the Swallows need to win these games to keep their playoff hopes alive.
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.

  • Anonymous

    A day off to reflect on a few stats….

    After a good weekend, we still fell 1 further game behind Giants. Typical. So we need to go into these next 2 home series Vs Giants and Dragons looking for at least 4 wins (5 would be excellent), and I think there is reason (and a need) for optimism and a positive attitude.

    Of Swallows last 12 series, we have won 8, tied 2 and lost only 2. We are unbeaten in 4 series (series, not individual games). We still have momentum and form (it somehow didn’t feel like it, but we really do!).

    We’re unbeaten in the past 6 games Vs Giants and have a 4-2 winning record against them at Jingu.

    We have an 11-7 winning record against the Dragons, including a 5-1 winning record at Jingu, so far this season.

    With the uncommon schedule of having Friday off and playing Saturday-Monday, we should (correct me if I’m wrong) see 2 of these 6 games be pitched be Ishikawa, who has got to be the on form pitcher in the CL right now….

    Stats don’t mean shit, it’s all about the next game, but I hope the boys are pumped, confident and ready for these next 6 games. It’s do or die time. Come on Swallows!