4/26/11 – Yomiuri (Home)

April 26th, 2011

Yomiuri Giants 1

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 7

Streak: Won 2 (Unbeaten in 9)   Last 5: WWDWW

(Shizuoka Kusanagi Stadium)

 

After bouncing back from an 0 and 3 start to occupy first place in the CL, the Swallows enter a week that will be a litmus test for their credentials of being a true contender in 2011. And boy did they jump the first hurdle in style as they downed the Giants to gain a modicum of revenge for the opening series loss some two weeks ago.

Tonight’s game saw a re-match between the season opening game’s starters, with all-around good guy and avatar for all things good in the world Masanori Ishikawa, going up against smugness personified/blubbing bitchboy* (*dependant on performance) Shun Tohno. In that game Tohno came out on top, thanks largely to better run support, but tonight would be a very different kettle of fish entirely.

  1. Aoki (CF)
  2. Tanaka (2B)
  3. Yuichi (LF)
  4. Hatakeyama (1B)
  5. Aikawa (C)
  6. Balentien (RF)
  7. Miyamoto (3B)
  8. Kawabata (SS)
  9. Ishikawa (P)

Ishikawa = The man

Tokyo came into this match after their winning series in Hiroshima over the weekend, while their opponents had the luxury of four days of gorging on Yomiuri brand hookers and coke rest since their series against the Tigers in Koshien last week.

And that rest looked to have done them a world of good in the top of the 1st, when first man up, baby-faced annoyance Sakamoto, clubbed one over the fence in leftfield to make it 1-0 Yomiuri.

That would be the only hit Ishikawa would give up over the first four innings, but Tohno looked equally as sharp, keeping the Swallows bats hitless over the first three frames. Cue self-satisfied grins galore for the smug-one. But that would change, in a big way.

Those grins began to be turned upside down in the 4th as the Swallows struck level. Tanaka doubled to left to start off the inning, followed by outs for Yuichi and Hatake. Next up was Aikawa, who hit one for an RBI double of his own off the wall in the rightfield corner to make it 1-1. The play was all the more satisfying as the human-bobblehead Yoshinobu Takahashi seemed to injure his ribs as he hit the fence trying to snag Aikawa’s shot, and had to leave the game to be replaced by Kamei. Shame. No, really.

And the entertainment continued in the 6th, with another Tanaka double again providing the spark. This time it was Yuichi with the timely hit, as he hit a flyball that dropped fair in shallow left, just in front of the waddling Ramirez. Tanaka scored from second for 2-1 Tokyo. Hatakeyama then singled to put two men on with one out on the board, but Aikawa hit into an inning-ending double play.

But the real fun was saved for the 7th, with Tohno beginning to look a little less assured on the mound. Balentien flew out for out number one, before consecutive singles from Miyamoto and Kawabata but men on first and second. The inning then saw the return of Josh Whitesell who was pinch-hitting for Ishikawa, but he could only strike out after a seven pitch battle.

Hiroyasu does the damage in the 7th

Next up was Fukuchi, who was in for Aoki (who appeared to tweak something running to first after grounding out in the 6th), and he worked a wily walk, with plenty of delaying tactics upsetting Tohno’s rhythm. So, with the bases loaded up stepped Tanaka who was 2 for 2 with the two doubles to that point, and he hit over the infield to right, scoring two runs confortably. But as an added bonus, a miscommunication between Kamei in right and Suzuki in centre allowed Fukuchi to make it home from first and things were looking rosey at 5-1 Tokyo, with Tanaka advancing to second. Tohno was seated to fight back the tears on the bench, replaced by Kaneto.

The fun was not over yet though, as during next man Yuichi’s at bat, the ball got past catcher Tsuruoka and rolled to the back stop. He got totally confused, and in the age it took him to realise where the ball was and run after it, Tanaka was home from second for 6-1 Tokyo.

Matsuoka (3.00) came in to work a eight pitch perfect 8th before another run was added in the bottom of the inning off reliever Albaladejo. Singles from Hatakeyama, Miyamoto and Kawabata were good for a 7-1 Tokyo scoreline.

Barnett came in for the top of the 9th, and despite allowing two singles for Ramirez and Kamei, he closed the deal for an 7-1 Tokyo Final.

So then, a satisfying and impressive win on many levels. Ishikawa took the win for his 7 innings of 3H/5K/2BB/1ER baseball and saw his record rise to 2-1/2.37.

Tanaka was the clear star of the evening with his 3 for 4, 2 RBI and 3 runs scored performance and he is now batting .349. And the league leading Miyamoto saw his CL-best average rise to .442 after his two singles this evening.

Hatakeyama went 2 for 4 with two strikeouts and is now batting .406, while Yuichi did his chances of a more sustained shot at the leftfield vacancy no harm with his 6th inning RBI single. Tony Barnette is yet to give up a run in his 5 appearances in relief so far this year.

In fact the only negative to the whole evening was the possible injury to Aoki.

This series was originally scheduled for Jingu stadium, but given the “no night games in April” rule in the eastern Kanto/Tokyo area, rather than another series of sparsely populated day games, the series was switched to a “home away from home” one in Shizuoka. Game two will be tomorrow evening from 6pm.

Shun Tohno. A-grade fuktard.

 


 

 

About David Watkins

David is a baseball bothering Brummie who spends a fair portion of his life fretting over the Tokyo Swallows and the WORLD'S GREATEST FOOTBALL TEAM, Aston Villa. He completes the quartet of abusive sporting relationships by being a die hard New York Knicks and Mets fan. You can find him on twitter: @yakulto

  • Kozo

    Ishiakawa is now 1 win shy of 100 for his career.

  • So you noticed Tohno’s smugness too. I wanted to smack him several times throughout the game. Glad he had such a bad seventh inning. Tanaka scoring on Yuichi’s popup was the play of the game imo. Such a great read and was a real turning point in the game. Apparentyl Aoki’s injury is a left hamstring one. Hopefully that heals up very soon.

    http://tokyoyakultswallows.blogspot.com

    • Yep. Can’t stand the man as you may have gathered.

      That was indeed some heads-up running from Tanaka in the 6th, either a great read of the situation or a gamble that paid off. Either way it was a key play as you say.

      Thankfully, it seems Aoki’s hamstring issue was more one of discomfort rather than a strain. He should hopefully be back soon if not tonight.

  • Anyone catch wind of why Chono was subbed out early in game? Injury? Nerves?

  • That was a great win. Love it when opposing managers leave the starters in for too long, but the right guys came through in the clutch, we’re on a roll!