04/01/12 Yomiuri (Away)

April 1st, 2012

Tokyo Swallows 2

Yomiuri Giants 4

Streak: Lost 1  Last 5: WWL–

(Tokyo Dome)

After beating Utsumi and Sawamura on Friday and Saturday, Tokyo had the honor of witnessing the start to Toshiya Sugiuchi’s career in orange. Long may he struggle.

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Tokyo010000100291
Yomiuri01011001X480
W: Sugiuchi (1-0) L: Akagawa (0-1) S: Nishimura (1)

And while it may not look like he did that poorly from the above boxscore, we can safely say that the first Giant to wear the number 18 since Kuwata didn’t do much to inspire the Yomiuri money kings.

 Tokyo Yomiuri
1Tanaka 2B1Sakamoto SS
2Ueda CF2Bowker LF
3Milledge RF3Chono CF
4Hatakeyama 1B4Abe C
5Kawabata SS5Murata 3B
6Miyamoto 3B6Takahashi RF
7Balentien RF7Ogasawara 1B
8Aikawa C8Terauchi 2B
9Akagawa P9Sugiuchi P

Sugiuchi easily weathered an aggressive first three Tokyo batters who all came out swinging at the first pitch. If memory serves, he got out of the inning on six pitches, including one strikeout.

But Tokyo’s starter, Katsuki Akagawa, retired the side quickly as well, and out came Sugiuchi to face the middle of Tokyo’s lineup.

The visitors finally welcomed him to the Central League with a couple of hits and a sac fly in the second inning. Hatakeyama started things off with an off-balance swipe at a slider just below the floor of the zone which didn’t even test Chono in center. But with one out, Kawabata bumped a 1-2 fastball into left field. Miyamoto followed that up by punching a 1-1 fastball down the line in right for a stand-up double to put runners on second and third.

Coco then worked a come-from-behind eight-pitch walk to load the bases with one out and Aikawa representing Sugiuchi’s last obstacle  before a free out in the shape of our pitcher, Akagawa. But Aikawa came through with a sac fly to right on a low, full-count heater. Kawabata tagged up and took took off as soon as Takahashi reeled the ball in. His throw home completely skied the cutoff and wasn’t anywhere near the same zip code as home plate, so Kawabata slid home untouched.

I love it that the Giants are still waiting for Takahashi to finally develop into the second coming of Hideki Matsui. Just hold your breath a little bit longer, Gomiuri.

Tokyo 1-0 Yomiuri.

But the smile would be wiped from the penguin’s yogurt-eating grin shortly thereafter. Akagawa pitched around Abe to allow a first

This is how Yomiuri scored its first run.

runner with no outs in the bottom of the second. And after a Murata fly ball to center, Takahashi bundled a 1-1 slider into right that found its way through Balentien’s wickets on the second hop. That ended up being a single with an E9 tacked onto it–Abe to scored from first.

All tied at 1-1.

The only notable thing that happened over the next couple of innings was the fact that Miyamoto notched his second hit of the game which puts him at 1,881 career hits. Just 19 more until he reaches the Meikyukai minimum of 2,000. The man becomes more relevant with every year that he ages.

Except in the playoffs. Sorry, but it’s true.

Akagawa started using his sinker in the bottom of the fourth against Abe, but it didn’t work very well. Abe just waited for a fastball and deposited it in right. Murata also laid off the sinker and like Abe plugged a late-count heater into right field. Ogasawara then dropped another hit in Balentien’s territory to bring the go-ahead run around from second.

Yomiuri 2-1 Tokyo.

The only Tokyo bat to do something productive in the top of the fifth was Milledge who poked a slider into right field with two outs.

The Giants, unfortunately, got one more run out of Akagawa in the bottom of that inning. Akagawa started things off by beaning Bowker  (first pitch, two outs), and then gave up a walk to Chono to make things interesting. Abe then went after the first sinker he saw, and his single to right brought Bowker home from second.

Yomiuri 3-1 Tokyo.

Akagawa surrendered two earned runs from five hits through five innings of work.

In the top of the sixth, Miyamoto and Balentien reached base care of a HBP and a walk with one out, but then Balentien got doubled up at first after Aikawa lined out to Terauchi at second. Balentien was a little unlucky there, but it’s possible to argue that an infielder would have remained closer to first when that ball was hit–thus being able to scramble safely back to first. But whatever.

Tokyo was finally able to put another run on the board in the top of the seventh. Iihara started things off by smacking a very low changeup into left for a single. Tanaka followed with a single of his own that moved Iihara over to third and brought Ueda to the plate.

Ueda saw three consecutive fastballs and grounded the third one to short. Sakamoto opted to go for the double play, but Ueda beat the throw to first which meant that Iihara was able to score from third. The Swallows would eventually load the bases, but nothing came of it after Kawabata struck out swinging and Miyamoto grounded out to short.

And even though another run didn’t score as a result, it should be pointed out that newby, Lastings Milledge, had yet another full count at-bat that fortunately ended in his second walk of the game. In the first series of his NPB career, Milledge has been patient, protected the plate, and worked his way late into the count on a number of occasions. Encouraging.

Yomiuri 3-2 Tokyo.

But Yomiuri added a bit of cushion in the bottom of the eighth with Masubuchi on the mound. New Giant, Murata, started out by smacking a single up the middle, and then his pinch-running alter ego, Suzuki, easily stole second with Tokyo’s backup catcher, Kawamoto, behind the plate (rookie Hiyane had earlier taken Aikawa’s place on the basepaths in the top of the eighth).

Takahashi then struck out looking at three straight pitches, but the runners continued to dick on Kawamoto, and before long Suzuki had scored and pinch hitter, Kamei, had stolen second with two outs. Fortunately no more runs scored thanks to Tani striking out looking.

Yomiuri 4-2 Tokyo.

The Swallows went down in order in the top of the ninth with Nishimura making his first appearance for the orange people.

And although Tokyo lost this game, they were never really out of it. So they start this week’s home series versus the Hanshin Tigers knowing that they took two games off of very good starting pitching thanks to, in large part, some good hitting. It should be fun to watch and see what happens with Tokyo’s three starting outfielders over the next series or two.

Case in point: Milledge may be leading the team with five Ks, but he’s also in the lead with four free bases, and he showed off his speed by stealing second today. Lots of promise there.

Tokyo’s next series will take place at Jingu Stadium on April 3rd-5th (Tue-Thu). All games start at six. Hanshin is currently in third place with a 1-1-1 record.

Notes:

  • Did Yomiuri’s catcher, Abe, put on weight? Or is the camera just adding 10 kilos?
  • If you look closely at the Yomiuri ‘YG’ logo, are those testicles or teardrops rounding out all of the pointy bits?
  • Which camera do you prefer: the one in left-center that gives you a vague idea of the strike zone, or the one from way up above and directly behind the pitcher that unfortunately shows you how crap the umpire is?
  • Tanaka has five hits (one double, one HR) through his first three games. He’s now batting leadoff which was Aoki’s annual spot. Funny how effective one can be when one doesn’t have to bunt all the damn time. Sorry, Ueda. Apparently it’s your turn now.
  • Ueda is pretty quick. He’s previously stated, on the record, that he’s not all that fast, but he beat out a double play and has two stolen bases already. No problems in center thus far either.
  • Balentien was replaced in right on defense in the seventh after Iihara singled safely in the top of that inning.
  • Akagawa took the loss today. Five innings, 77 pitches, five hits, two Ks, three walks, one HBP, three runs (two earned). 3.60 ERA.
  • Hidaka and Matsuoka pitched a scoreless inning each while Masubuchi gave up one run in the eighth.
  • All three outs recorded by Masubuchi were strikeouts.
  • Sugiuchi wasn’t great, but he still got the win in his first Yomiuri appearance. He struck out three, walked six, and beaned one on his way to allowing two earned runs through six and one-third innings.
  • There were allegedly 44,135 spectators at today’s game.
  • Only Kawabata and Miyamoto had multi-hit games for the birds today.
  • The Giants are in fifth place after their 1-2 start to the 2012 campaign.
  • Tokyo outhit the Giants 9-8.

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

  • Rob

    TYS seemed to be taking a lot of pitches from Sugiuchi and not chasing junk (at least not early in the game). But it was tough to tell where the bottom of the strike zone was. At least the plate ump (Akimura?) gave it to both teams. 

  • Augusttime

    Balentien hasn’t been able to hit OR play D since about July of last year. Why can’t they just eat the remainder so that I don’t have to see him in right anymore??

  • FLR

    What happens if the game rains out tonight re tickets? I was planning to go to tomorrow’s game but reluctant if it becomes “opening day” and very crowded. I like to sit up high on the 1st base side (so that I can see over the damn fence) and buy tickets in the “green zone”.

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