10/3/10 — Yokohama (Home)

October 3rd, 2010

Yokohama BayStars 1

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 3

Streak: Won 2    Last 5: WWLWW

(Meiji Jingu Stadium)

With little more than pride and a couple of personal records for Aoki at stake, the Tokyo Swallows hosted the Yokohama BayStars for the final time in 2010.

With all the talk of Yokohama’s possible sale, many in the stadium were left wondering what the visiting team’s uniforms would look like the next time they come to town–not to mention where that team will call home.

At any rate, the game ended in an agreeable way for the home team.

Tonight’s lineup:

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

Yoshinori didn’t have his best stuff tonight, and he didn’t always get the help he needed on defense, but given that he was facing the BayStars, a team that has lost 90 or more games in each of the past three seasons (NPB record), there wasn’t too much to worry about in the end.

Both starters found themselves in jams multiple times, but it was Yoshinori who was able to fight his way out of the corner. It seemed like there were constantly runners on third base in this game.

This game was basically wrapped up in the second inning. Whitesell led the inning off with a fireball right at the left foot of second baseman, Fujita, and he advanced to second on a wild pitch.

D’Antona then lofted a high home run into the reserved outfield seats in right to start the scoring. 2-0 Tokyo.

Iihara followed the cleanup act with a double to keep the pressure on Yokohama’s starter, and he moved over to second on Kawamoto’s grounder to short. One out.

Kawabata then hit a low-arching fly ball to left which was just deep enough to allow Iihara to score from third. 3-0 birds.

And that was basically it. Yokohama did manage to score a single run in the fourth, but not without the help of a second Tokyo fielding blunder. 3-1 Final.

Yoshinori ended up with the win, his 12th, and saw his ERA improve to 3.60 on six innings of work (116 pitches). As mentioned earlier, he definitely wasn’t unstoppable as evidenced by the six hits, two walks and one HBP that he allowed, but he pitched himself out of some jams and definitely deserves credit for winning 12 times in a single season.

It’s his 12-9 record that likely earned him game MVP honors tonight.

D’Antona definitely deserved some game hero kudos for his 2-3 (2 RBI) evening at the plate.

Masubuchi (2.65), Matsuoka (2.62) and Lim (1.46) kept Yokohama off the scoreboard for the final three innings while Lim picked up his 35th save of the year.

Aoki wasn’t able to extend his consecutive game hitting streak as he went 0-3 with a walk. He also lost some more ground to Murton in the quest to beat Ichiro’s single season hits mark of 210. Murton had one hit today in Hanshin’s win over Hiroshima and he has now equaled Ichiro’s mark with three games left to play. Aoki finished the day at 204 hits and has four games left to play.

Whitesell and D’Antona were the most dangerous guys in the Tokyo lineup tonight. Both had two hits with the latter tallying his 15th home run of the season and 2 RBIs to go with it.

The Swallows will take on the Tigers one final time on Tuesday at Jingu. Look for Hanshin to be very fired up for this one. Home field advantage during the first round of the Climax Series (vs Yomiuri) is at stake. Hanshin and Yomiuri are currently tied.

Random thoughts:

Tokyo currently sports a 70-66-4 record. With four games left to play, the birds are guaranteed to finish the season with at least a .500 record. Imagine that!

Tokyo won the season series versus Yokohama: 14-9-1.

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