9/26/10 — Chunichi (Home)

September 26th, 2010

Chunichi Dragons 1

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 3

Streak: Won 1   Last 5: LWWLW

(Meiji Jingu)

In yet another absolute must-win situation, the Tokyo Swallows bested the first place Dragons on the back of a decent start by Yoshinori and a solid first inning on offense.

Tonight’s lineup:

1. Aoki CF
2. Morioka 2B
3. Hatakeyama LF
4. D’Antona 1B
5. Iihara RF
6. Kawabata SS
7. Kawamoto C
8. Yoshinori P

Yoshinori pitched eight innings, but the first was definitely worth forgetting. Araki drew a leadoff walk and was bunted over to second by Fujii. He would then score on Morino’s single to center. 1-0 Chunichi.

And things very nearly got much worse. Wada drew a walk of his own before Blanco collected the first of his four Ks this evening for the second out. But Yoshinori issued a third free base to Nomoto which gifted Donoue a golden opportunity with two outs and the bases juiced. That was, of course, after a pitch had gotten away from Yoshinori and the runners were able to advance. Fortunately, for the Jingu faithful at least, Donoue grounded out to second to leave the Tokyo deficit at one.

But the birds came screaming back in the bottom of that inning. Aoki got things off to a quick start by driving a high 2-0 fastball into the stands in right to tie the score on Nakata’s third pitch. Tied 1-1.

It was Aoki’s 13th homer of 2010. He’s now two behind his 2009 total of 16. His career best is 20 homers which he achieved in 2007.

Morioka followed that up with a single to center, and Hatakeyama drew a walk in his first trip to the plate.

D’Antona then drove a single to right to load the bases so that Miyamoto’s fly out to right was enough to score Morioka from third. 2-1 Tokyo.

After a two out single in the second, Chunichi would not be able to find a way to get another runner on base for the remainder of Yoshinori’s time on the mound.  He retired 18 straight batters before handing control over to Lim for the ninth.

In the meantime, Tokyo added one more run in the sixth when Miyamoto’s fourth homer of the season landed in the stands in left. 3-1 Final.

Lim pitched a scoreless ninth (16 pitches, 1 K, 1 BB) while notching his 33rd save of the year. His ERA, now at 1.34, is well ahead of his strong numbers from last year (57 appearances, 28 saves, 2.05 ERA), and should make him a prime free agent target for Yomiuri this coming off-season.

Yoshinori’s record now stands at 11-9 with a 3.73 ERA. He was very much in control during 7/8’s of his outing tonight, and he deserved this win. He threw 129 pitches and gave up one run off of only two hits. He also tallied nine Ks against 3 BBs (all three were in the first inning).

The birds head to Yokohama on Tuesday for another game that they desperately need to win. Yomiuri faces the Tigers in two gigantic games Tuesday and Wednesday.

Let’s all raise our glasses to Yomiuri losing back-to-back heart-breakers.

Random thoughts:

Tokyo is yet again 5.5 games behind Yomiuri and a playoff spot.

Aoki leads the Central League in three offensive categories: HBP (18 — tied with Iihara); batting average (.362); and OBP (.440).

Yoshinori leads the Central League in one pitching category: BB (72).

Aoki’s homer in the first was his 200th hit of the season. His career best was in 2005 when he had 202 base hits. Hanshin’s Murton currently leads the Central with 203 hits.

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

  • There was also a 30-minute rain delay after the 2nd inning. Yoshinori came back from it pretty well. But the main thing is that all of us at the top of section D were praying the game would make it to 5 innings so that Morioka would get to keep his two hits… er… so that Aoki’s 200th hit would stay official.

    I sent Kozo a few photos from tonight because I thought he was writing up the report. Oops 🙂

  • Kozo

    More random notes:
    -Aoki became the first player to have multiple 200 hit seasons in NPB history.
    -Aoki’s homerun also extended his hitting streak to 22 games.
    -The Giants loss tonight means that the Swallows slim playoff chances got slightly brighter.

    Completely Personal Random Note:
    -I enjoy rain games!!!