April 14th, 2012
Tokyo Swallows 10
Streak: Won 1 Last 5: WWLLW
The birds’ first game of the year against the fish was a home-away-from-home game in Matsuyama, a fortunate choice of location given the constant rain that cancelled every other game in the Kanto region.
|1||Soyogi (SS)||1||Ueda (CF)|
|2||Higashide (2B)||2||Tanaka (2B)|
|3||Stavinoha (LF)||3||Milledge (LF)|
|4||Kurihara (1B)||4||Hatakeyama (1B)|
|5||Aizawa (RF)||5||Kawabata (SS)|
|6||Hirose (CF)||6||Miyamoto (3B)|
|7||Dohbayashi (3B)||7||Balentien (RF)|
|8||Kura (C)||8||Nakamura (C)|
|9||Bullington (P)||9||Muranaka (P)|
Your Tokyo Swallows were relentless today. With Muranaka holding the Carp to just one hit through four innings, Tokyo plated six runs (four earned) at Hiroshima starter Bullington’s expense. It was nice to see Tokyo start to find their way a bit at the plate, too, if I do say so myself. Especially after not being able to score against the Baystars over the previous game and a half.
|W: Muranaka (1-0, 2.25 ERA) L: Bullington (1-2, 4.50 ERA)|
In the bottom of the first inning, Milledge’s grounder forced Tanaka out at second for out number two, but he would soon team up with Hiroshima’s young third baseman, Dohbayashi, to help put the Swallows on the board. With Hatakeyama falling behind quickly at the plate, Milledge swiped second on a 0-2 fastball that missed wide. He took off on the next pitch as well which Hatakeyama grounded toward third. With Milledge already directly behind him as Dohbayashi moved in to execute an easy 5-3 third out, the youngster somehow let the ball squirt past him, and Milledge was quick to pick himself off the ground and sprint home.
Muranaka then got out of the second despite surrendering a walk and a single, and the Swallows added another run thanks to three
straight two-out singles and a Tanaka walk with the bases juiced.
Muranaka retired the side in the top of the third inning, and then the bats put another run on the board. Dohbayashi again chipped in with an error, this time on his throw to first, with Hatakeyama being the recipient of another free base. Hatake moved over on Kawabata’s fielder’s choice to second. And the big man was able to scurry over to third when Miyamoto hit another grounder to second. He came home on Balentien’s first-pitch rip to the base of the wall in right (RBI double).
Tokyo decided to start scoring in threes after that. Muranaka led off the bottom of the fourth with his second single of the game, and he moved over to second on Ueda’s surprise first pitch bunt which would have allowed him to reach first safely if he’d pushed it a bit further down the third base line. Tanaka’s single to center put runners on the corners.
Hat tip to Tanaka for his heads-up base-running on the next hit of the game. Milledge lofted the second pitch he saw (0-1 heater) off the top of the wall in left field. Muranaka tagged up on third, but Tanaka took off as soon as he saw the ball leave Milledge’s bat. Both runners scored, and Milledge ended up on second. He later scored on Kawabata’s bloop single to shallow center. And that was the end of Bullington’s evening.
Hiroshima recorded a couple of one out singles in the top of the fifth, but it was just a minor delay before Tokyo started scoring more runs.
Balentien led off the Swallows’ fifth with a full count walk, and then motored hard to third when Nakamura punched a 2-2 fastball down the line into left. With runners on second and third, Muranaka grounded out to second, but then Ueda doubled against a drawn in outfield which allowed Balentien and Nakamura to score.
After Tanaka’s full count walk, Milledge hit a come-backer at the pitcher which looked like a double-play ball, but Soyogi wasn’t able to reel it in at second. As soon as the Ueda saw the ball hit the dirt, Ueda took off for home, and craftily slid around the catcher to help throw another three up on the scoreboard.
Tokyo scored one final run in the sixth thanks to a Miyamoto single and a Nakamura sac fly to left. Miyamoto was able to take second on a wild pitch, and then advanced to third on a Balentien fly ball to right. Nakamura punted an inside fastball to the foot of the warning track, and Miyamoto was able to trot home safely.
10-0 Yogurt Penguins.
Muranaka did start to leave his pitches up a little bit after that, and he was perhaps lucky to get through the next two innings without surrendering more than the one earned run. Five of the eight hits that he allowed came in the seventh and eighth innings. The one run he gave up was in the seventh, and Hirai got mop-up duty in the ninth. But he did earn a well-deserved first win of the season, and his two hits were icing on the cake of a solid early-season performance.
There’s no doubt that Hiroshima’s defensive blunders helped Tokyo today–Tokyo scored following all three of them. But several birds deserve credit for their production at the plate as well.
Ueda, Tanaka, Nakamura, and Muranaka each recorded a pair of hits today. This is certainly a sigh of relief for the bench since we haven’t gotten much out of that part of the lineup thus far in the season.
Tanaka had a solid game at the plate and did wonder for his OBP in the process. In addition to his two singles, he drew three walks, the first of which forced in Tokyo’s run in the second. In other words, 2-2 at the plate in five appearances.
The only starter not to hit safely today was Hatakeyama. His line is now .200/.280/.267.
Muranaka got the win tonight after eight innings of eight hit, one run baseball. He threw 116 pitches in his third start of the season and struck out five while walking two. His ERA of 2.25 is currently third best on the team (starting rotation) behind Tateyama (2.08) and Akagawa (2.19).
Hirai pitched the ninth and was solid aside for allowing a walk. His ERA through four appearances remains at 0.00.
We already know that Milledge has an arm in left, but Ueda also showed that he’s no downgrade from Aoki in that department. He would have thrown Hirose out at third on a fly to center if his throw had been closer to third in the top of the seventh.
Yamada showed good range on defense in the top of the ninth (defensive substitute for Kawabata). He moved well to his left to track down a grounder up the middle and added a backhand toss to Tanaka to seal the force out at second. Both he and Morioka (in for Miyamoto) finished the game with Hirai on the mound.
With today’s win, the Swallows climbed into a three-way tie with Chunichi and Hiroshima for second place in the Central League. Hopefully it’s more of the same tomorrow for the Swallows in Matsuyama. The game starts at 2PM, and Akagawa will be taking the mound for Tokyo against Hiroshima’s Nomura.