April 27th, 2011
Tokyo Yakult Swallows 4
Streak: Won 3 (Unbeaten in 10) Last 5: WDWWW
(Shizuoka Kusanagi Stadium)
The Swallows looked to even the season series at two games apiece against their crosstown rivals. Laboring through a rain-delayed Shizuoka night, the Swallows showed that yesterday was no fluke.
1. Aoki CF
2. Tanaka 2B
3. Iihara LF
4. Hatakeyama 1B
5. Aikawa C
6. Balentien RF
7. Miyamoto 3B
8. Kawabata SS
9. Yoshinori P
The Giants actually got on the board first via a squeeze, but the birds came right back in the bottom of that frame with two runs of their own. And those runs came around in magnificent fashion.
Hatakeyama pulled the Swallows level when he pulled a 1-0 offspeed pitch on the outside of the plate into the leftfield stands. It was his sixth of the year.
One out later, Balentien also took Yomiuri’s starter, Utsumi, yard on the fourth consecutive inside pitch he was offered. Fastball. Bang. 2-1 Tokyo.
Yomiuri did not pose much of a threat after that although they did get two runners on base in the third and seventh innings.
Tokyo, on the other hand, posted another run in the fourth when Miyamoto came through with a base hit to plate Iihara from second base. 3-1 Tokyo.
The final run of the game came via Balentien’s bat in the sixth after a protracted battle with Yomiuri’s first reliever, Nishimura. On the eighth pitch of the encounter, Wladimir was able to straighten a pitch on the outside of the plate out and ended up blasting it over the wall in center. 4-1 Final.
Yoshinori got the win for his five innings of work (only 72 pitches). He gave up one earned run on four hits, two walks and two strikeouts. His ERA now sits at a very admirable 1.35, but the big question is when we should be expecting the first blister.
Yoshinori was followed by Oshimoto (4.50), Barnette (0.00), Matsuoka (2.57), and Lim (1.29) who pitched a scoreless inning of relief each. Lim attacked all three hitters that he faced and struck all of them out.
Barnette also got through his inning on three K’s (plus one hit and a runner reaching on a Hatakeyama error). He has not allowed an earned run in his six appearances this season. The extra insurance that he provides out of the bullpen is a very nice surprise this year for the team, and he can also spot start where necessary.
Tokyo has now won eight games in a row (interrupted by two draws), and that’s largely without the help of Aoki on offense during the second half of the current run of good form.
Tanaka, Hatakeyama, Balentien and Miyamoto, with plenty of help from Aikawa and Kawabata, have picked up the slack. All this winning amounts to a record of five games above .500 for Tokyo.
Game three of the Shizuoka series is tomorrow evening starting at 6PM.