4/28/12 – Hiroshima (Away)

April 28th, 2012

  

Tokyo Swallows 6

 Hiroshima Carp 4

Streak: Won 2       Last 5: WWDWW

(Mazda Stadium, Hiroshima)

Tokyo traveled to Hiroshima yesterday for their first away series at Mazda Stadium. The two teams have played each other twice so far this season (played in Matsuyama) with Tokyo taking  both of those contests. Akagawa (2-1, 0.95 ERA) earned the win in the Sunday afternoon game of that short series, and he was back on the mound today to take on an injury-depleted Hiroshima.

 123456789RHE
Tokyo0030000036110
Hiroshima000002020491
W: Hirai (1-0, 0.00 ERA) L: Mickolio (1-1, 3.48) S: Barnette (1-0, 10 S, 0.00)

Akagawa wasn’t exactly overpowering in that April 15th game against the Carp, but he was able to get through seven full innings without giving up a run (4 H, 4 BB, 1 HBP, 0 K). He was much sharper in his last start when he pitched a complete game shutout at home against the Giants on April 21st (5 H, 1 BB, 6 K).

 Hiroshima Tokyo
1Soyogi (SS)1Tanaka (2B)
2Higashide (2B)2Ueda (CF)
3Hirose (CF)3Milledge (LF)
4Stavinoha (LF)4Balentien (RF)
5Aizawa (RF)5Kawabata (SS)
6Matsuyama (1B)6Miyamoto (3B)
7Dohbayashi (3B)7Hatakeyama (1B)
8Shirahama (C)8Nakamura (C)
9Fukui (P)9Akagawa (P)

All in all, the Swallows had to be liking their chances against the fourth-placed Carp.

It seemed clear from the start that birds were going to try to wear down Hiroshima’s starter, Fukui (1-1, 3.18 ERA), and get to the

Hatake's timing at the plate is improving.

bullpen as quickly as possible. If that was in fact what Tokyo was doing, then it was a very good idea. Like the Swallows, Hiroshima is scheduled to play nine games in as many days, and if Tokyo can force Hiroshima to use it’s bullpen early and often, that could mean good things for the birds when Hiroshima come to Jingu next weekend.

Tanaka and Ueda worked a pair of walks to start the game, and both Milledge and Balentien worked full counts as well. The latter coaxed Fukui into issuing his third walk of the inning, and the bases were loaded for Kawabata. Unfortunately, the Swallows were not able to take advantage of the situation, as Kawabata lined out to second and Ueda was doubled up.

But the good news was that Fukui threw 31 pitches that inning.

Akagawa, on the other hand, got through the first inning on only six pitches despite giving up a leadoff hit to Soyogi.

The birds finally got something from all of their patience in the top of the third. Milledge worked a full count walk with one out, and then Kawabata singled to left with two outs. Miyamoto then singled to center to bring Milledge home from second.

Hiroshima 0-1 Tokyo.

But Hatakeyama then chipped in with a bases-clearing triple (sixth of his career, believe it or not) to give Akagawa some breathing room.

3-0 Tokyo.

And to make matters worse for Hiroshima, second-year starter, Fukui, had already thrown 76 pitches by the end of that inning. Fukui had his most efficient inning in the fourth when he only expended 13 pitches on three batters.

First career win.

But Kokubo came in to pinch hit for him with two outs and a runner on first in the bottom of the fifth.

The Swallows loaded the bases on reliever, Kishimoto, but weren’t able to bring anyone home in the process.

Akagawa ran into a bit of trouble in the bottom of the sixth when his control started to suffer, and he either left pitches up or started throwing a lot of stuff down the middle.Hiroshima was able to string a walk and three back-to-back hits together to get themselves back in the game with a pair of runs.Hiroshima 2-3 Tokyo.

He was fortunately able to get the second out on a foul fly off to the side of third base, and then he was hooked in favor of Masubuchi to face Dohbayashi with runners on first and second.

Masubuchi eventually got the rookie to strike out swinging at an offspeed pitch to help Akagawa avoid getting tacked with any more runs.

Hikaka pitched a perfect seventh.

Oshimoto had a more eventful inning of work. He surrendered a leadoff single and a one out walk to put runners on first and second. With veteran Maeda pinch-hitting, Oshimoto watched the count get worked full before finally conceding his first earned run of the season on a soft single to right.

3-3.

Oshimoto out, Watanabe in.

Second pitch, Maru RBI single to center.

Game-winning home run.

4-3 Hiroshima.

Watanabe out, Hirai in. Hirai got the final two outs of the frame on only six pitches to help stop the bleeding.

Mickolio took the mound for the Carp in the top of the ninth with a one-run lead to protect. Tanaka led off with a grounder to right, and Ueda then bunted pinch-runner, Miwa, over to second. Milledge poked a single to center to put runners on the corners for Balentien.

Mickolio hung a slider right in the middle of Balentien’s wheelhouse, and the next time anyone touched it, it was a souvenir for a lucky fan in the left field bleachers.

6-4 Tokyo.

Barnette closed out the game on six pitches in the bottom of the inning.

Pitching:

Akagawa left the game with a one-run lead and didn’t figure into the final decision. It was almost like he suddenly got tired during the sixth. At any rate, here’s his line: 5.2 IP, 88 NP, 5 H, 1 K, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 2 R, 2 ER, 1.32 ERA. His record remains at 2-1.

Oshimoto was tagged with both runs in the eighth. His ERA rose from 0.00 to 1.69.

Hirai got the win, the first of his career.

Barnette continues to lead the league in saves (10) and appearances (14).

Hitting:

Balentien was the hero of the game due to his game-winning homer, his league-leading sixth of the season. He was 2-4 with a walk and three RBI.

Hatakeyama also had a good game down at number seven in the lineup. He was 3-5 with two RBI.

Tanaka, Ueda, Milledge, and Miyamoto all got on base twice. Milledge also scored twice.

Notes:

Today was Hatakeyama’s first three-hit game of the season, and he very nearly had a fourth hit in the eighth. However, Soyogi made a nice leaping grab at short to rob Hatake of extra pudding.

Miyamoto’s RBI single today puts him at six hits away from the 2,000 hit milestone.

Former teammate, Atsunori Inaba, reached the Meikyukai 2,000 hit threshold this afternoon in a game against Tohoku.

Tokyo needed three pitchers to get through the eighth inning when Hiroshima temporarily took the lead. It was a bit of a departure from how solid the bullpen has been this month, but one could argue that Oshimoto was a little bit unlucky and pitched better than his line. Unfortunately, Tokyo used two more relievers than they might have liked to today. But luckily the team still won.

Mickolio was as hittable in the ninth as Akagawa was back in the sixth.

The birds now lead the season series against Hiroshima 3-0.

Chunichi also won today, so Tokyo’s lead at the top remains at one game.

The game tomorrow kicks off at 1:30 PM. Nomura (1-1, 1.00 ERA) will pitch for the Carp, and the Swallows will counter with Roman (1-3, 3.57 ERA).

Tokyo is undefeated in its last seven games (one tie).

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