Apr 14th 2013, @ Yomiuri

April 14, 2013

Tokyo Swallows 0

Yomiuri Giants 2

Streak: Lost 4  Last 5: WLLLL

(Tokyo Dome)

The Swallows sent Yagi to the mound to face Utsumi and try to stave off a sweep in the crosstown rivals’ first series of the season.

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Yomiuri00200000X270
W: Utsumi (2-0; 1.80 ERA)
L: Yagi (1-1; 2.41 ERA)
S: Nishimura (6S; 0.00 ERA)

Meanwhile, Yomiuri was looking to keep its perfect home record intact.

TokyoOrderYomiuri
Milledge (LF)1Chono (CF)
Kawashima (SS)2Terauchi (2B)
Balentien (RF)3Sakamoto (SS)
Hatakeyama (1B)4Abe (C)
Miyamoto (3B)5Murata (3B)
Iihara (CF)6Bowker (LF)
Tanaka (2B)7Lopez (1B)
Nakamura (C)8Yano (RF)
Yagi (P)9Utsumi (P)

But unfortunately for Swallows fans, Yagi couldn’t keep many of his pitches down, and the bats are still working through early-season rustiness.

During the first three innings, Yagi was spending a lot of time up in the zone. He was throwing some good curves and changeups, but his heater and slider were frequently up where the Giants hitters could get a nice look at them.

Nothing left the park during those first three frames, but Yomiuri got at least one runner in scoring position each time.

The damage was finally done in the third when Sakamoto drove a one-out, elevated heater into center for a double. He then advanced to third on Yagi’s 1-1 wild pitch to Abe.

And he scored on Abe’s single to right three pitches later (another fastball up in the zone).

0-1 Yomiuri.

Murata flew out to center which brought the much-improved (compared to last season) Bowker to the plate. Bowker belted a 2-2 chest-level fastball off the wall in center for a triple.

0-2 Yomiuri.

And that was about the entire game right there.

To be fair to Yagi, he showed considerably better control over the next three innings. In fact, he was perfect throughout his next tour through Yomiuri’s lineup, striking out four in the process.

Tanaka did well to hang onto this throw, but Sakamoto was still safe.

Tanaka did well to hang onto this throw, but Sakamoto was still safe.

But it was never going to be enough as Tokyo’s bats are in a deep slumber right now. The only two Swallows players to record hits were Miyamoto in the second (lucky check-swing infield single), and Balentien in the sixth (his first hit of the season).

Despite only giving up two hits, Utsumi wasn’t exactly lights out this afternoon. He induced his normal bevvy of ground balls, but he also walked two and beaned one (Nakamura) over seven innings of work.

Yagi took the loss and is now 1-1 on the season with a 2.41 ERA. He threw 110 pitches over six innings, gave up six hits, struck out seven, walked one (Utsumi of all people), and had one wild pitch. If he show more of the control that we saw in the second half of his start today, then he could turn out to be a solid third or fourth starter for the team this year.

Tokyo also took its first round draft pick, rookie right-hander Taichi Ishiyama, out for a spin in the seventh. Despite allowing a couple of runners, one of which was on a ill-hopping grounder that skirted past Kawashima at short (no error), Ishiyama kept his cool and mixed his fastball, slider, and forkball to formidable effect.

Hirai took the mound in the bottom of the eighth, and wasted little time in dispatching Abe, Murata, and Bowker for an 11-pitch perfect inning. Hirai now has a 1.42 ERA through seven appearances this season.

The Swallows have Monday off and will host Chunichi at Jingu for a three-game set beginning on Tuesday. All three games start at 6PM.

GAME NOTES

  • This game was over in just two hours and 35 minutes.
  • 43,233 people were allegedly at this game.
  • Through the first 15 games of the 2013 season, Lastings Milledge currently leads the team in hits (13), doubles (5), stolen bases (2), walks (tied with Hatakeyama at 5), average (.224), and average with RISP (.364).
  • Hatakeyama leads the team in runs scored (6), homers (3), total bases (22), RBI (12), strikeouts (tied with Ueda at 13), and slugging (.393).
  • Tanaka leads the team in errors (2) and has just seven hits so far this season.
  • Kawashima, the fourth and final Swallow to play in all 15 games so far this season, leads the team in OBP (.294) and the league in HBP (3).
  • The Swallows averaged just 4.5 hits per game over the past two series. In three of the games this week, the team totaled three or fewer hits.
  • Milledge was 2-22 this past week. Both of those hits were in Friday’s game against Yomiuri (leadoff home run, double). He also drew one walk over the past six games.
  • Tanaka was 2-20 over the same stretch.
  • Hatakeyama was held hitless in the three games against Yomiuri (he drew two walks).
  • Kawashima had one hit in the Yomiuri series, and he also beaned once on both Saturday and Sunday.
  • The Swallows are now tied with Chunichi at the bottom of the Central League standings.
  • Tokyo sports the worst team batting average in the league (.195), a -13 run differential, and a 6-9 record.

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

  • Why is Iihara, who has been terrible, and looks to always be terrible, in the starting rotation? I think it’s time to give up on him.

    • Couldn’t agree more.

    • Kozo

      I think the slightly longer answer is that the team doesn’t see a good option versus lefties. Iihara is the only non-regular that is a right-handed bat. Not a lot of righties that have shown some pop at the top level on the roster right now.

      • Kozo

        That being said, both Yuhei and Ueda (lefties) who are arguably the “regular” starters both had favorable splits against left-handers in limited at bats last year. So starting Iihara seems to be blind adherence to the lefty-righty conventional wisdom.

        • “So starting Iihara seems to be blind adherence to the lefty-righty conventional wisdom.”

          It’s exactly this.