Tokyo Swallows Snapshot: May 1st, 2012

Something to read while looking for inspiration.

Website Updates

Apologies for the delay, but we finally set up a game schedule up on the front page. We didn’t have one on there last season due to space limitations, but we think that you’ll find this year’s solution to be a workable one. Scroll down to the bottom of the front page for a look at Tokyo’s upcoming schedule as well as the Central and Pacific League Standings. Oh, and there’s a list of the community selections for Swallows of the Week down on the right.

Swallows of the Week

Week 4

Last week you chose your favorite from among five outstanding performers: Katsuki Akagawa (P), Wladimir Balentien (RF), Tony Barnette (P), Shingo Kawabata (SS), and Orlando Roman (P).

28 people cast their vote this time around, and here’s what you decided:

Wladimir Balentien1346
Tony Barnette725
Shingo Kawabata518
Katsuki Akagawa27
Orlando Roman14

Nicely done, Mr. Balentien! Coco was a force in week five as well, so it should be interesting to see if he can be the first player to ring it up twice here in the voting. At any rate, we’re enthused that he’s helping the team so much. Love, love, love! his improved control of the strike zone and hustle in the field. Long may it last!

Week 5

Tokyo played six games in the fifth week of the 2012 season. Three of those were played in the rain at Jingu, and the other three were day games at Mazda Stadium in Hiroshima.

Tokyo outscored Chunichi 9-4 in the three game series that they hosted last week, and including the rough day against Hiroshima’s young Nomura on Sunday the birds outpaced the Carp 13-8.

Game reports:

April 24th vs Chunichi (Home) 4-1 W
April 25th vs Chunichi (Home) 1-1 D
April 26th vs Chunichi (Home) 4-2 W
April 28th vs Hiroshima (Away) 6-4 W
April 29th vs Hiroshima (Away) 0-3 L
April 30th vs Hiroshima (Away) 7-1 W

And here are the top-performing birds from week 5:

Wladimir Balentien (RF) comes fresh off of his first ever SOW win with another solid performance in week 5. He hit .304 last week (7-23 at the plate) with three walks and seven RBI. He hit another two home runs in week 5, including that three-run dinger that helped the team steal game one of its just-finished series against Hiroshima.

Tony Barnette (P) notched three saves last week and appeared in the first four games of the week. That was good enough for the most innings pitched of any reliever. Over four innings of work, Tony struck out two while allowing three hits and no walks. He has yet to surrender a run this season (0.00 ERA).

Kazuhiro Hatakeyama (1B) had a bit of a breakout week while continuing to toil in the 7-hole. He was 8-22 at the plate (.364 average) with a double and a triple (gasp!) this week. He also drove in five runs and added two walks. Give the man some more pudding.

Lastings Milledge (LF) was awesome this week. He hit .391 and was a team-leading 9-23 at the plate with three doubles, a game-changing home run, three RBI, and three walks. And I daresay that his aggressiveness in left field is having a ripple effect in right. Oh, and he’s a sure bet to get waved home. I lost count, but Lastings slid home safely several times this week.

Shohei Tateyama (P) is at the end of this list due solely to alphabetical concerns. Tokyo’s true ace won two games this week, and that’s no mean feat. 13 innings pitched, 10 hits, 5 K, 5 BB, and just two earned runs–not too shabby. He co-shares the league lead in wins (3) and winning percentage (perfect!).

Let us know what you think! And as always, please vote only once.

Roster Updates

Rookie Hiyane (CF) was dropped to the farm on the 23rd due to some general greenness at the plate and in the field, and a complete inability to use his speed to swipe second base.

Utility infielder, Noguchi, was promoted on the 24th and featured as a pinch runner and defensive replacement at third last week.

Second year shortstop, Tetsuto Yamada, was dropped on the 27th in order to get some actual playing time, and speedster Miwa (INF) was promoted a day later to provide another pinch-running option.

The active roster, as of game time on the 30th, looked like this:

Muranaka, Ishikawa, Masubuchi, Tateyama, Barnette, Hidaka, Akagawa, Watanabe, Roman, Abe, Oshimoto, Hirai

Nitta, Fukukawa, Nakamura

Kawabata, Miyamoto, Tanaka, Takeuchi, Hatakeyama, Noguchi, Miwa, Morioka

Balentien, Iihara, Yuhei, Milledge, Ueda

From the Farm

The team announced that an Eastern League game was scheduled for May 17th at Toda against Saitama. You can check the farm team’s full schedule here (link in Japanese).

Tokyo’s game against Rakuten on the 27th was rained out, but the little birds won three of the four games that they played last week (results for Monday’s game against Saitama were not available when this article was published).

Lim pitched in a few games last week and earned a couple of saves but also got shelled in his outing yesterday against Saitama. If the bullpen holds together over the next few days, that could mean that Roman gets at least one more start on the top team.

Onodera continues to look pretty sharp, and it looks like Kyuko is getting a little bit of work in. I didn’t see Yoshinori’s name anywhere though.

Around the Central

Tokyo finished the week with 4 wins, 1 loss, and 1 tie. They took two of three from Chunichi in the rain at Jingu (one tie game), and two of three from the Carp in Hiroshima. They’re tied with Chunichi for first place in the Central League.

Chunichi finished the week 3-2-1. They lost two of three to Tokyo (one tie), and then swept Yokohama at Nagoya Dome. They’re tied at the top with your Tokyo Swallows.

Hanshin finished the week 2-3-1. They took two of three from Hiroshima at Koshien Stadium, and then lost two and drew one against Yomiuri at Tokyo Dome. Tossers. Hanshin are 2.5 games behind the first place tie of Tokyo and Chunichi.

Hiroshima finished the week 2-4. They lost two of three against the Tigers in Hanshin territory, and then they dropped another two at home to the Tokyo Swallows. They remain 2 games behind the third place Tigers and 4.5 behind Tokyo and Chunichi in first.

Yomiuri finished the week 3-0-1. They won one game against Yokohama in Kagoshima (the other game got rained out), and then won two and drew one at home against the Hanshin Tigers. Yomiuri are one game behind Hiroshima in fifth place.

Yokohama finished the week 0-4. They didn’t win a game this week against either the Yomiuri Giants or the Chunichi Dragons. Sixth place and three games behind the Giants.

The Week Ahead

Tokyo are headed straight to Yokohama for a three game series against the last-placed Baystars. The games on Tuesday and Wednesday both start at 6pm, but the game on Thursday starts at 2pm. Ishikawa will start for the birds on Tuesday.

Don’t be too surprised if the outfield bleacher seats are all reserved (ie. more expensive than normal) as Yokohama has a history of gouging during Golden Week.

Also, the weather looks kind of iffy, so plan accordingly. If the game gets rained out, and you’ve got extra time on your hands in the Kannai/Bashamichi area, stop by the Baird Bashamichi Taproom for a couple of brews and some BBQ ribs.

The final third of Tokyo’s current nine-game marathon will be played at the lovely Jingu Stadium Friday to Sunday. Friday’s game starts at 3pm, but the two weekend games are scheduled for 6pm starts. If the weather’s nice, those games could see some pretty healthy attendance, so arrive early if you’re part of a decent-sized group (four or more) or are picky about where you sit.

Former Swallows

Alex Ramirez (Tokyo player from 2001-07) didn’t start against the Dragons on Saturday or Sunday. The manager is apparently worried about his conditioning and wants him to get his legs back in shape. Ramirez did start yesterday, however, and was 0-3. He’s currently hitting .215/.227/.262.

Atsunori Inaba (Tokyo player from 1995-2004) joined the Meikyukai on Saturday after recording his 2,000th hit in a game against Tohoku in Sendai. Check this post for some excellent factoids related to Inaba’s feat.

Alright, please excuse me while I tune in to the derby.

Drink up!

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