Aug 8th 2013, @ Chunichi

August 8th, 2013 

Tokyo Swallows 5Chunichi Logo

Chunichi Dragons 2 

Streak: Won 3   Last 5: WLWWW

(Nagoya Dome)

Can you remember the last time the Swallows swept a three-game series?

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Tokyo010000013582
Chunichi010001000233
W: Ishiyama (2-1; 3.22 ERA)
L: Iwase (1-2 25S; 2.21)
S: Barnette (0-6 7S; 10.80)

Well you’ll have to go all the way back to April for the answer to that question. Tokyo won all three games of a home series against Yomiuri on April 26th, 27th, and 28th. Go ahead, read them again.

TokyoOrderChunichi
Milledge (LF)1Hirata (RF)
Ueda (CF)2Ohshima (CF)
Kawabata (3B)3Morino (2B)
Balentien (RF)4Luna (3B)
Hatakeyama (1B)5Wada (LF)
Morioka (SS)6Clark (1B)
Aikawa (C)7Tanishige (C)
Yamada (2B)8Takahashi (SS)
Ishikawa (P)9Iwata (P)

Despite the fact that I was simultaneously struggling with a serious glitch which took the entire administrative side of the site down for four hours, I thoroughly enjoyed watching this game.

There was that delicious feeling that somehow the tides are turning.

I’m not just talking about the fact that the Swallows now lead the season series 9-6. And I’m not only referring to the fact that the team is scrapping and clawing its way back into games.

No, my eyes are still alight because I just found more evidence that the Chunichi Dragons, after years of annoying the ever-living piss out of us, are finally on the wane.

Balentien was huge once again today. He directly factored into three of the team’s five runs, and his first notable stat was when he scored the opening run of the contest in the top of the second inning. After drawing a walk, he hustled all the way around from first on Hatakeyama’s drifter into the center-left gap.

1-0 Swallows.

Coco's 39th of the year leveled the contest in the eighth.

Coco’s 39th of the year leveled the contest in the eighth.

But the Dragons scored in the bottom of the frame with a little help from a Yamada defensive error. Chunichi’s Wada, who had been standing on second after a fly ball of the wall in left caused Milledge to tweak the crap out his left ankle, scored on the error.

1-1.

Milledge left the game and was replaced in left field by Iihara.

Joy.

Chunichi got the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth when Ishikawa was charged with a balk with Hirata standing on third base. He was awarded a free trip home, and that was the end of Ishikawa’s chances to get just his fourth win of the season.

1-2 Chunichi.

But luckily the Chunichi bats went quiet after that. Their last base runner was Morino who grabbed a walk in the bottom of the eighth.

Meanwhile, the birds were able to climb back into this one, and a large part of that was thanks to Balentien’s bat.

With Asao on the mound for the Dragons, it looked as if Balentien might get one of his typical one-out free trips to first base, but then Asao started aiming for the outside of the plate. Big mistake. Balentien was able to get a bit of lumber on an outside heater, and the result was a solo home run over the wall in right.

All tied at two!

And if adding an earned run to Asao’s tally wasn’t enough of an accomplishment, how about two more for Mr. Iwase. Actually, it was three total because one was unearned, so you can probably imagine how unbelievably enjoyable the final two innings of this game were.

In the ninth inning, Kawashima drew a walk and then stole second. He then advanced to third on Iihara’s bunt which was comically mishandled by Iwase. Both runners were safe at the corners. E1.

Then, Takeuchi drew a walk to load the bases with no outs.

Kawabata made his only hit count. Two runs scored, and the Swallows never looked back after that.

Kawabata made his only hit count. Two runs scored, and the Swallows never looked back after that.

Kawabata followed with a two run double to center that should have resulted in Takeuchi getting gunned down at third except that the throw from center was wonky. E8.

4-2 Tokyo.

Balentien then struck again with a sac fly to center to score Tokyo’s final run.

5-2 Final.

Ishikawa started but didn’t factor into the final decision as he was removed from the game after the sixth inning with the team facing a one run deficit. He threw 90 pitches, gave up just three hits, and allowed two runs (one earned). His ERA is now 3.35 after striking out six, walking two, and being charged with one balk. That balk sucked. Visions of Chiba there.

After getting his first save last night, Fujita saw another inning of work today and had a 1-2-3 inning. His ERA remains at zero after six appearances so far this season.

Ishiyama earned his second win of the season after working a scoreless eighth, and Barnette logged his second save so far this year at Nagoya Dome.

The Swallows have tomorrow off before heading to Akita for a weekend “home” series against Yokohama. Both of those games are scheduled to begin at 5PM.

THOUGHTS:

Your Swallows are now 38-57-1, which puts them just 1.5 games behind Yokohama and fifth place in the Central League.

Chunichi sit just four games ahead in third place with a 43-54-1 record.

Balentien’s 39th homer of the season puts him eight ahead of Blanco in the Central League race.

Balentien also leads the league in both OBP (.438) and slugging (.759).

Coco has managed to balance his 66 strikeouts with 62 walks so far this season.

Yamada now leads the team in errors with eight.

It was the second time this week that Milledge had to leave a game early.

Morioka was the only other bird that had a multi-hit game. He also added a disputed plunking in the second. After a rocky start to the year, he’s quietly asserting himself as a solid option at short.

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