9/3/10 — Yokohama (Away)

September 3rd, 2010

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 3

Yokohama BayStars 2

Streak: Won 1    Last 5: LLWDW


This game got a little wild at the end, but it ended on the right note for the visiting Tokyo Swallows.

Tonite’s lineup:

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

Yoshinori gave up a hit to the first batter he faced, but he was rock solid after that. He allowed only two more runners (HBP; single) through seven innings.

The front half of Tokyo’s lineup didn’t do a whole lot to reward Yoshinori for his good behavior.  The fearsome foursome of Aoki-Tanaka-Iihara-Whitesell only managed three walks between them through the first seven innings, and none of them crossed home plate.

The only player in a Tokyo player to make it home was Hatakeyama. Twice. He scored the first run of the game in the fourth when his double was eventually cashed in by Kawabata on a single to left. 1-0 Tokyo.

And his single to lead off the sixth translated into another run when Miyamoto singled past second base. 2-0 Tokyo.

Aoki finally got into the act in the eighth when he came to the plate with two outs and men on first and second. Yoshinori’s attempted suicide squeeze bunt didn’t work on the preceding play, so Aoki made up for it (a little bit) by swatting a double into right field to bring another run home. 3-0 Tokyo.

But Tokyo witnessed an almighty Yoshinori wobble in the bottom of the ninth. With the first two batters retired, Yoshinori allowed a walk and three base hits which amounted to two earned runs. 3-2 Tokyo.

Lim was called in to do some serious damage control with runners on first and third.

And he earned his paycheck tonite. Lim got Castillo to chase a 2-2 slider low and away to end the game. 3-2 Final.

The win was Yoshinori’s (3.62 ERA) 10th of the season and the first double-digit win tally of his career. The save was Lim’s (1.42) 28th of 2010. Despite that shaky ninth inning, Yoshinori pitched a good game overall. He gave up six hits and two runs. Only one of those six hits was for extra bases (Murata double in the ninth). He also recorded 11 Ks against 1 BB and 1 HBP.

The birds started the day 5.5 games behind Chunichi and the third playoff spot. However, Chunichi beat Yomiuri this evening and leapfrogged them in the standings. That means that Tokyo now trails Yomiuri by five games which is even better really.

Game two of the series is tomorrow night at 6PM at Yokohama Stadium.

Random notes:

Tokyo laid down no less than five bunts in this game. At least three of them were Tak-bunts (Tanaka, Aikawa, Miyamoto). Yoshinori also bunted twice. A bunting apologist would only be able to argue that one of those bunts helped lead to a run (man bunted over to third with no outs).

Yoshinori might have been left in too long, but he has reacted well to abject failure in the past. Araki may have been trying to figure out where Yoshinori was mentally. I think we all learned that it’s probably better to yank him after that second hit in a row.

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