Hello, all you Swallowers! Here’s something to read while claiming your shark repellent spray refund.
Miyamoto’s Meikyukai Induction
Miyamoto became the 40th batter to reach the 2,000 hit milestone with a single in his first at-bat against Hiroshima starter, Yuya Fukui on Friday. The game was immediately halted as Miyamoto’s teammates came onto the field to congratulate him.
The team has decided to designate May 30th Miyamoto Milestone Memorial Day when Hokkaido will be in town for a two-game series (May 30th and 31st). Former Tokyo Swallow and teammate, Atsunori Inaba, who became the 39th hitter to enter the Meikyukai just a short while ago, will be playing for the Fighters in that game, and it is likely that Inaba will also be honored by the team in some way.
In case you missed it, here’s a video replay:
Many congrats to Miyamoto and his family from everyone at Tsubamegun!
Swallows of the Week
The Tsubamegun community voted on the outstanding performances by the following five players: Wladimir Balentien (RF), Tony Barnette (P), Kazuhiro Hatakeyama (1B), Lastings Milledge (LF), and Shohei Tateyama (P). There were 35 official votes this week, and here’s how the numbers added up:
Congratulations, Thrilledge! The man has been an impact player at the plate, and he has shown hustle and determination both on the field and the basepaths. All the best to Milledge from the Tsubamegun community as he continues to transition to the pitching and style of play here in Japan.
The Swallows played five games last week which completed a eight-games-in-nine-days marathon against Central League competition. The first two were in Yokohama, and after romping in the first game thanks to Balentien’s three bombs, the offense was quieted in game two due to some decent pitching from the home team.
The second series was at home against the Hiroshima Carp. The first two games were both monumental and enjoyable to watch for Tokyo fans as Miyamoto eclipsed the 2,000 hit mark on Friday, and the team churned out an impressive performance both on offense and defense to clinch the series. Yesterday’s game, however, was a bit of a mess thanks mostly to the fact that Tokyo wasn’t able to get anyone on base for most of the game.
Several players put up impressive numbers last week, and here are the names for you to choose from:
Wladimir Balentien (RF) had a crazy week 6 at the plate. He was 8-17 with six homers, four walks, eight RBI, and 27 total bases. Here’s his slash line for the week: .471/.571/1.588.
Masanori Ishikawa (P) recorded his first complete game shutout in a couple of seasons at Yokohama on Tuesday. He threw 145 pitches through nine innings of work and gave up five hits, one walk, and one beanball while striking out five on his way to helping his team secure a 7-0 victory.
Orlando Roman (P) had his longest outing of the year on Saturday when he subdued a very aggressive Carp team with only 95 pitches through eight innings of work. He gave up only five hits, three walks, and one earned run while striking out three. The Swallows went on to win that contest 4-1.
Hiroyasu Tanaka (2B) was solid both at the plate and on defense. He was one of only two players to hit safely in all five games last week and was 7-21 at the plate. He mixed in a couple of doubles, two walks, and four RBI to help reward Hatakeyama and Nakamura for their solid offense in the bottom third of the lineup. Slash line: .333/.391/.429.
Tick the box next to the player you think most deserves SOW honors for week 6.
On Wednesday May 2nd, Genki Nitta (C) and Yuhei (OF) were demoted, and on Thursday veterans Atsushi Fujimoto (IF) and Kazuki Fukuchi (OF) were brought up. Fujimoto had his first hit of the season that same day. Fukuchi had his first hit on Friday and recorded his first sac fly of the season on Saturday.
Ueda (CF) was dropped to the farm on Saturday after banging up his right shoulder on a herculean effort to prevent a home run in Friday’s game. He was 1-2 at the plate with a double before being removed from the game. Hopefully his rehab stint doesn’t take too long.
Rookie Hiyane (OF) was brought back up on the same day to serve as cover/competition for Kazuki Fukuchi in center field.
Takeuchi was dropped to the farm on Sunday for reasons that were not immediately clear. Hopefully it’s nothing more than an attempt to keep him fresh by seeing live pitching on a regular basis on the farm.
That leaves 27 players on the top team roster as of this morning:
Muranaka, Ishikawa, Masubuchi, Tateyama, Barnette, Hidaka, Akagawa, Watanabe, Roman, Abe, Oshimoto, Hirai
Kawabata, Miyamoto, Tanaka, Fujimoto, Hatakeyama, Noguchi, Miwa, Morioka
Hiyane, Fukuchi, Balentien, Iihara, Yuhei, Milledge
From the Farm
Tokyo’s minor league team dropped two of their three games against Tohoku up in Sendai. Depressingly, they lost both of the first two games in walk-off fashion in the bottom of the 10th inning. But there were definitely some bright spots tucked in there.
The Swallows won the third game thanks largely to a fourth inning, two out grand slam care of Yuichi which put a previously tied ballgame at 6-2 in Tokyo’s favor. The team eventually won the game 6-4 with rookie Hugo Kanabushi getting the ‘W’ thanks to his six innings of eight hit, three run baseball.
Chikara Onodera continues to pitch effectively from the bullpen. He made two appearances last week and kept the opposition off the board. In 15 appearances so far (farm team high), he’s pitched 15.1 innings and has an ERA of 0.59.
Kyuko has also seen his workload increase, which is another great sign for the team as he was a phenomenal left-handed option out of the pen last year. He made two appearances last week and didn’t allow any runs.
Recently demoted center fielder, Yuhei, started all three games last weekend and was 5-15 at the plate.
Kawamoto (C) appears to be back in action and both caught and DH’d last weekend. Nitta did the same and appears to be having a bit more success at the plate so far.
Tokyo’s little birds will play six home games up in Toda starting tomorrow. The first three are against the little Giants, and the second set is against the little Marines. All six games are scheduled to start at 1PM.
Around the Central League
Tokyo finished the week with three wins and two losses which leaves them in sole possession of first place in the Central League with an overall record of 18-10-2. After splitting a rain-shortened series with Yokohama, the birds returned to Jingu and took 2-3 from the visiting Hiroshima Carp. They enjoy a mere half-game lead over second place Chunichi.
Chunichi finished the week with two wins, two losses, and two ties. Those two losses came over the weekend when they were visiting Yokohama who are now in possession of a semi-healthy Tsutsugoh at third base. The boy has been hitting the ball hard, and if memory serves, he’s eligible for ROY voting this season. The Chunichi Dragons finished the week in second place, half a game behind the Tokyo Swallows.
Staff ace, Kazuki Yoshimi, was taken off the active roster due to a gammy hammy on May 2nd. That’s good news for the Swallows because it means that they won’t have to face him next week when they travel to play Chunichi.
Hanshin finished the week with one win, four losses, and one draw. In fact, they finished the Golden Week nine-game stretch with a league worst 1-6-2 record. They only scored five runs in their six games last week, and they were shut out three times. They’re still in third place though, 4.5 games behind Tokyo and just a half game ahead of the surging Yomiuri Giants.
The scoreless draw against Yomiuri at Tokyo Dome on April 30th was the first time in 69 years (link in Japanese) that such a result has happened between those two clubs.
Looking for some depth at catcher due to injuries to Johjima and Fujii, Hanshin traded pitcher Ryuji Wakatake to Hokkaido for backup catcher, Kenta Imanari. 24-year-old Imanari appeared in 22 games for the Fighters last year and hit .115 with three hits.
Yomiuri finished the week with four wins and two losses. They took 2-3 from the visiting Hiroshima Carp at Tokyo Dome and then did the same against Hanshin when they played there this past weekend. Yomiuri finished the GW stretch with a Japan-best .750 winning percentage which is terrible news for those who value what is just and right in the world. Yomiuri still has a losing record, but they’re just a half game behind the faltering Hanshin Tigers.
Yomiuri is apparently going to be welcoming 33-year-old Edgar Gonzalez back into the fold. You may recall that Gonzalez played for the Giants back in 2010. He had 327 plate appearances in 100 games for Yomiuri that year, hitting .263/.342/.457 with 76 hits (12 HR) and 44 RBI. Last year he hit .315/.378/.457 with 159 hits (30 2B, 14 HR) and 82 RBI in 137 games for AAA Fresno (San Francisco Giants).
Hiroshima finished the week with two wins and four losses. They dropped all three of their GW series, and critically four of their six games with the first place Tokyo Swallows. They are now in fifth place in the Central League, one game behind Yomiuri and just two games ahead of the improving Yokohama Baystars.
Yokohama finished the week with three wins, one loss, and one draw. The biggest thrill for them was undoubtedly winning their weekend series against the defending Central League champs, Chunichi. They outscored the Dragons 19-6 in those three games, and it should be fun to see if they can keep this momentum going into the Interleague block of the season which begins on the 16th. Yokohama are still in last place, but they’re finally showing some signs of life. If Yoshimura, Ramirez, Nakamura, and Tsutsugoh all get on track at the same time, then they should be able to produce quite a few runs.
Yokohama apparently has some kind of ticketing scheme worked out whereby fans can get a refund if they were unhappy with the game that they watched. According to reports, there have been some long lines at the ticket windows following several of the games.
The Week Ahead
Tokyo has a slightly abbreviated schedule this week, the last before Interleague games begin on May 16 with a two game home series against 2011 Japan Series Champs, Fukuoka.
This week also features quite a bit of running around for the team. The first series is against the Dragons May 8th-10th, and even though it’s an ‘away’ series for the birds, only one of those games will be played at Nagoya Dome. Game 1 is in Toyohashi, game 2 is to be played in Gifu, and the final game will see the teams play a game in the cavernous dome that Chunichi calls home.
Friday the 11th is a travel day as the birds head north to Akita for a two-game “home” series against Yomiuri.
Games on the 8th-10th and 12th start at 6PM. The game on the 13th is scheduled to begin at 3PM. Check the calendar at the bottom of this site’s homepage if you need more detail.
Seth Greisinger continues to be unhittable for the Chiba Marines. He leads the Pacific League in ERA (0.31), winning percentage (perfect), opposing team’s batting average (.165), and K/9 (8.59).
Norichika Aoki only has 34 at-bats in the 22 games that he’s appeared in (usually as a pinch hitter), and his slash line is currently: .235/.316/.353. It will be fun to see what he can do if/when he gets to start regularly for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Alex Ramirez continues to struggle at the plate in his new home of Yokohama (.198/.217/.284). He finally hit his first homer of the season on Friday when Chunichi came to town.
Alright, that’s all for this week. Please excuse me because I have fallen woefully behind on my meat consumption.