July 13th, 2013
Tokyo Swallows 8
Streak: Won 2 Last 5: WLLWW
(Meiji Jingu Stadium)
I’d like to get a little personal (i.e. completely self-indulgent) before this writeup. After complaining in my last writeup that I seldom got to write up wins, went back and examined my own stats. It turns out, the Swallows were 2-12-1 in the games I wrote up this season. I was struck by my bad luck, especially since each of my fine colleagues have gotten to write up at least 6 wins this season. So despite the red-hot Yasuhiro “I refuse to call him Ryan” Ogawa starting against a relatively weak Carp team at home, I was feeling uneasy about tonight’s game.Fortunately the Swalliows delivered a satisfying win to the home crowd and absolute joy to this writer.
|W: Ogawa (10-2); L: Otake (5-6)|
|1||Fred Lweis (LF)||1||Tetsuto Yamada (2B)|
|2||Ryosuke Kikuchi (2B)||2||Tsuyoshi Ueda (CF)|
|3||Yoshihiro Maru (CF)||3||Lastings Milledge (LF)|
|4||Kila Ka'aihue (1B)||4||Wladimir Balentien (RF)|
|5||Ryuhei Matsuyama (RF)||5||Kazuhiro Hatakeyama (1B)|
|6||Eishin Soyogi (SS)||6||Shingo Kawabata (3B)|
|7||Shota Dobayashi (3B)||7||Keizo Kawashima (SS)|
|8||Yoshiyuki Ishihara (C)||8||Yuhei Nakamura (C)|
|9||Kan Otake (P)||9||Yasuhiro Ogawa (P)|
The right field stands was a seas of green as the Swallows kicked off their 4-game series of “EN”powerment games in which 10,000 fans were given green uniforms. On the field, the Swallows wore very simple white uniforms with green numbers and logo and no names on the back.
Like last night’s game the Carp struck first. As back-to-back two-out doubles by Maru and Ka’aihue brought in a run. 1-0 Carp
But before I could fret about my bad luck, Ueda hit his first career home run to tie the game at 1-1. After a relatively quick Milledge out, it was Balen-time. After getting ahead 3-0, Coco got the count to full before he launched an inside ball to deep straight-away center for the lead. 2-1 Swallows
The Swallows piled on in the second inning. Otake had some control issues and found himself with two outs with the bases full against Coco. Again, Coco worked the count full, and this time he launched a high hanging ball into deep left field. Watching the game in the stadium it was unclear where the ball had actually landed. The only thing that was clear was that Lewis made absolutely no effort to track the ball off the bat. A subsequent examination of the television replays showed that the ball left the bat so quickly that even the cameraman couldn’t track the ball. Balentien’s first NPB grandslam further pushed the lead to 6-1.
On the flip side, Ogawa was cruising after the first inning. The Swallows added insurance runs in the sixth. Kawabata lead off the inning with a single, and Keizo followed with a hustling double. Nakamura cashed in the two runners with a hit-and-run single up the middle. 8-1 Swallows
After throwing 96 effective pitches through seven innings, Ogawa finally showed some signs of wear in the eighth inning. Ogawa started the inning off with a single to Ishihara and a Mukai strike out. A Lewis double, followed by a Kikuchi infield single brought in a run. 8-2 Swallows Ogawa managed to get Maru to fly out to right field before he loaded the bases with walk to Kimura. The Swallows elected to bring out Ishiyama to get the last out. Ishiyama got ahead 0-2 to Matsuyama, but ultimately lost the 8 pitch battle and walked in an additional run. 8-3 Swallows Ishiyama managed to limit the damage as he got a pinch-hitting Hirose to ground out to third to end the inning.
The Swallows sent up the recently recalled Tony Barnette to finish the game. The crowd was eager to see the Tony of old, and the he delivered. Tony got two quick strikeouts off just 7 pitches, and got ahead of Mukai 0-2. Mukai was pesky and fouled off a bunch of pitches, but ultimately succumb to an outside fastball for K #3 to end the game.
- The Swallows were “EN”powered by 29,448 fans (many of the Carp fans) in the stands.
- The two Coco home runs brings his season total to 31 home runs. 31 home runs were enough to win the home run CL titles the last two years for Coco, but with Tony Blanco getting home run #28 tonight it appear this year’s home run crown will be more spectacular. Coco needed 140 games to reach 31 homeruns in his first year, and 106 games last year. Tonight was Coco’s 66th game of the season. So yes, in case there was any doubt, the ball has indeed changed from the last two years.
- Ogawa won his fifth consecutive game and became the first CL pitcher to reach double-digit wins this season. Ogawa became the first CL rookie since Koji Uehara in 2009 to be the first to reach 10 wins. Ogawa also became the first Swallows’ rookie since since Yoshio Kitagawa in 1959 to reach 10 wins before the All Star break.
- The win puts the Swallows (32-45-1) in a virtual tie with the Carp (33-46-1) for fourth place in the CL, one game behind the third place Dragons (34-45-1).
- The Swallows will look to sweep the Carp in the second “EN”powerment game tomorrow. The starting pitchers will be a duel of aces featuring Masanori Ishikawa and Kenta Maeda.