10/13/11 – Chunichi (Away)

October 13th, 2011

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 0

Chunichi Dragons 2

Streak: Lost 4   Last 5: WLLLL

(Nagoya Dome)

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W: Yoshimi (17-3) L: Akagawa (6-2)

It’s over folks. The Swallows lost 4 straight to the Dragons to fall 4.5 games behind the Dragons and saw the Dragons’ magic number shrink to 2. This game saw the Swallows’ send their only hot pitcher Akagawa to face the Dragons hottest pitcher.

 Swallows Dragons
1LF Ueda1SS Araki
22B Tanaka22B Ibata
3CF Aoki3RF Hirata
41B Hatakeyama41B Blanco
5SS Kawabata5C Tanishige
63B Miyamoto6LF Wada
7RF Balentien73B N. Donoue
8C Aikawa8CF Oshima
9P Ishikawa9P Yoshimi

Akagawa got into trouble early in the game giving up back-to-back two out doubles to Hirata and Blanco to give up the early lead. 1-0 Dragons

Akagawa settled down and induced a ton of ground balls to short and third base and seemed to be in control. Meanwhile, the Swallows’ offensive ineptness continued as they only managed 3 hits off Yoshimi. The Swallows’ first “chance” came in the third when Ueda got a 2 out hit and stole second base. Tanaka couldn’t bring Ueda home as he popped up to second to end the threat. The second and only other chance of the night came after Ueda got a 1 out single in the sixth. After Tanaka’s grounder got Ueda to second, Aoki got an infield single to put men on first and second with 2 outs. Unfortunately the best Hatakeyama could do was fly out to center to end the threat.

It was around this time that Akagawa started to show signs of fatigue. After getting Hirata to foul out to begin the bottom of the sixth, Akagawa gave up a walk to Blanco. Tanishige followed with a hard line drive single to left, but luckily Blanco attempted to take third and was thrown out quite easily for the inning’s second out. Unfortunately Wada followed with a towering double off the centerfield wall that a jumping Aoki wasn’t able to catch to easily score Tanishige. 2-0 Dragons The Swallows then decided to intentionally walk Donoue, and Akagawa pitched around Oshima for another walk to face Yoshimi with 2 outs and the bases loaded. Akagawa struck out Oshima on 3 pitches to avoid any further damage.

Things got dicey again in the bottom of the seventh for Akagawa. After getting one out from Araki, Ibata singled to put a man on. Hirata bunted Ibata to second. The Swallows then intentionally walked Blanco, and called in Lim (yes, that Lim) to face Tanishige. The move surprised Tanishige, and his face after the ump reported the change to the scorer was perhaps the only highlight for the night. Lim got Tanishige to strike out to end the threat, and it was up to the Swallows offense to crack Yoshimi.

Needless to say, the Swallows’ offense did not rise to meet that challenge. Yoshimi got the Swallows to go down 1-2-3 in the eighth, and after Lim held things down for the Swallows in the bottom of the eight, Yoshimi got another 1-2-3 inning off Swallows to end the game.

Notes

  • The Swallows were outscored 12-4 over the four game series and never once had a lead over the Dragons.
  • The Dragons evened the season series to 10-10-3 with one more game to be played at Nagoya Dome.
  • With a magic number of 2, the Swallows essentially need to count on the Dragons winning no more than 1 more of their 6 remaining games, while at the same time winning their remaining 5 to get the pennant. A fairly tall order the way things are going.
  • I outlined our clinch scenarios for second place in the comments section of yesterday’s report. With a Tigers’ win tonight, those scenarios remain the same after tonight’s games. (Giants had the night off.)
  • The Swallows will return home to face the Tigers in a one-off game tomorrow.

The Swallows have a lot to think about...

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.

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  • Beating Yoshimi has never been easy.  (Not just because our guys are busy at bat holding back laughter at how the pitcher looks so much like Comedian Murakami Shoji, I believe.)  
    But they could have done better against other pitchers in this four-day series if they had been in the right mindset.  I don’t want to believe that was their mental and technical limit, but have to admit reluctantly that the Dragons, no matter how arrogant and obnoxious their boss is, have every reason to win the pennant because they know how to win a game.I apologize in case anyone believed in my optimistic prediction about a month ago and bought today’s ticket to see Ogawa being tossed up in the air… (God, I bought 5 for my whole family.)