May 17th 2014, @ Chunichi

May 17th, 2014 

Tokyo Swallows 4Chunichi Logo

Chunichi Dragons 1

Streak: Won 5  Last 5: WWWWW

(Nagoya Dome)

Your birds are making it look easy.

W: Yagi (2-1; 3.95 ERA)
L: Cabrera (4-3; 4.36)
S: Roman (1-0 4S; 0.57)

For whatever reason, Tokyo wasn’t able to snag a single win in Yokohama last weekend, but they’ve rebounded by winning consecutive series versus Yomiuri and Chunichi.

Yamada (2B)1Oshima (CF)
Hiyane (CF)2Hernandez (SS)
Kawabata (3B)3Luna (3B)
Balentien (LF)4Hirata (RF)
Yuhei (RF)5Morino (1B)
Hatakeyama (1B)6Wada (LF)
Araki (SS)7Donoue (2B)
Nakamura (C)8Tanishige (C)
Yagi (P)9Cabrera (P)

I would’ve been happy with taking two out of three from each of those teams, but I’m a moody little B when it comes to consistency.

But the very good news from the past week is that the team is receiving contributions from across the active roster.

Yagi kept Chunichi off the board for the first six innings.

Yagi kept Chunichi off the board for the first six innings.

Let’s start with pitching.

Yagi turned in another fine performance this afternoon. The Aichi native allowed just four hits and one run over seven innings of work (88 pitches). He struck out three and walked one while watching his ERA ease into the threes for the first time in a while. The lone run came in the seventh on a Wada single to left, but by and large Yagi exercised excellent control over Chunichi’s bats during his time on the mound.

Akiyoshi (3.46 ERA), Iwahashi (0.00), and Yamamoto (3.50) tag-teamed an ultimately scoreless eighth, and Roman (0.57) escaped with a save after allowing consecutive singles to start the ninth.

Now on to the offense.

Hiyane proved to be a bit of a menace during the early going, his speed allowing him to find home plate twice in the first three frames. With one out in the first, Hiyane bounced a high heater into left and then found his way to third three pitches later on a Kawabata hit-and-run (single to left). He then snuck home on Balentien’s groundout to short.

1-0 Tokyo

Hiyane got things restarted in the top of the third when he again pounced on a fastball and ripped it into left. His double to left must have caused Tanishige to change his approach because he started calling for off-speed pitches rather than just the fastball as he had early on. Kawabata grounded out to second on a 1-2 changeup, but that was more than enough to allow Hiyane to scamper over to third. He then scored Tokyo’s second run on Balentien’s full count single to center.

2-0 Tokyo

Yuhei helped get things going in the top of the sixth with a nine-pitch walk in which he fouled off four pitches during the at-bat. With the run-and-hit on for the first pitch, Hatakeyama skied one into center, but Yuhei stole second on the next pitch anyway. Araki ended up walking on six pitches, and then

Hiyane was 2-4 with two runs scored.

Hiyane was 2-4 with two runs scored.

up came Nakamura who was already 2-2 at the plate. Cabrera got ahead quickly, but Nakamura didn’t take the bait outside the zone as Cabrera began to pick at the edges. The 2-2 pitch was a fastball that probably wasn’t where Cabrera wanted to leave it because Nakamura redirected it into the outfield just as he had done in his two previous at-bats. Yuhei scored from second.

3-0 Tokyo

As mentioned earlier, Chunichi created a run in the bottom of the seventh on Wada’s single, but that was pretty much the end of their day offensively. The birds added an insurance run in the top of the ninth thanks partly to another small contribution from Hiyane. Yamada doubled off of Chunichi legend, Iwase, to set the stage for a Hiyane sacrifice bunt. With Yamada now safely on third, Kawabata worked a 1-0 slider into left for his 21st RBI of the season (he had 37 in 2013).

4-1 Final

The birds will attempt to make it two sweeps on the trot by sending Matsuoka to the mound for his first regular season appearance of 2014. He made 34 appearances last year and ended the season with a 3-3 record and a 5.73 ERA. Chunichi plans to counter with Asakura (2-1; 3.24 ERA this year).

Hopefully the offense can keep the pressure off of Matsuoka tomorrow so that he can give the team five or six innings before making a call to the pen.

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