Oct 24th 2015, JAPAN SERIES – @ Softbank (Game 1)

October 24th, 2015

Tokyo Swallows 2

Softbank Hawks 4

Series: Tokyo 0-1 Softbank

(Fukuoka Yahuoku Dome)

Tokyo fans got a bit of a gift before this game started. News that Softbank’s star outfielder, Uchikawa, would not be starting due to a pair of cracked ribs filtered through social networking sites and added some optimism to the underdog’s chances. But it wouldn’t be enough.

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W: Takeda (1-0)
L: Ishikawa (0-1)

Softbank’s starter, Takeda, had himself a game; something that he hasn’t always done this season. After putting men on the corners in the first, an inning in which he was forced to throw 21 pitches, Tokyo didn’t bother him again until the eighth inning. He ended the night with a complete game.

 Tokyo Softbank
1Keizo Kawashima (LF)1Wataru Hiyane (LF)
2Kenji Akashi (2B)2Shingo Kawabata (3B)
3Yuki Yanagita (CF)3Tetsuto Yamada (2B)
4Dae ho Lee (DH)4Kazuhiro Hatakeyama (1B)
5Nobuhiro Matsuda (3B)5Yuhei (RF)
6Akira Nakamura (RF)6Wladimir Balentien (DH)
7Yuki Yoshimura (1B)7Keiji Ohbiki (SS)
8Kenta Imamiya (SS)8Tsuyoshi Ueda (CF)
9Hiroaki Takaya (C)9Yuhei Nakamura (C)
PShota TakedaPMasanori Ishikawa

Softbank was on this same big stage last year, and it showed in tonight’s contest. The team looked loose and revved up while the visitors were a bit tense and lacked patience in the batter’s box.

Ishikawa had a rocky first inning as well, but he got out of a bases loaded jam by getting Softbank’s Nakamura to ground out to short.

This reaction was experienced repeatedly tonight, both by players and Swallows fans alike.

This reaction was experienced repeatedly tonight by Swallows players and fans alike.

He then looked very sharp over the next two innings, facing the minimum six batters.

But then Matsuda gouged a homer to left center with one out in the fourth, and the wheels started to come off. Softbank then reeled off five consecutive singles in a row to add two more runs to the tally. The fourth, a 31 pitch effort for Ishikawa, would be his last. Ishiyama took his place for the bottom of the fifth.

0-3 Softbank

Meanwhile, Tokyo’s offense couldn’t repeat it’s early success, and they made life easy for Takeda by popping up high fastballs and rarely taking him deep into the count. He threw 10 pitches in the second, seven in the third, 13 in the fourth, eight in the fifth, 10 in the sixth, and 10 in the seventh. While certainly one of the better starters in the Pacific League this year, his numbers aren’t all that dissimilar from Ishikawa’s. He had one other complete game this season and led the Pacific League in only one major pitching category, balks (3).

After Kawabata and Hatakeyama’s hits in the first, hit number three didn’t arrive until Ohbiki’s infield single in the eighth.

Softbank added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth with Nakazawa now on the mound for the Swallows. With two outs Akashi knocked the 2-0 pitch into left. Takamiya scored from second.

0-4 Softbank

Tokyo finally got on the board in the ninth, but not without a little help from the home side. Yuichi lined out for the first red lamp, but Kawabata reached first when he beat the throw after Imamiya bobbled his grounder. Yamada popped out for the fourth time today before Hatakeyama took four pitches and then clubbed a 3-1 heater into the left field stands.

Hatakeyama erased Takeda's hopes of a complete game shutout with his two run homer in the ninth.

Hatakeyama erased Takeda’s hopes of a complete game shutout with his two run homer in the ninth.

2-4 FINAL

Ishikawa took the loss after throwing 80 pitches through four innings. He allowed three earned runs from eight hits (one homer), struck out one, and walked one. Ishiyama was also tagged with one earned run over his one and two-thirds innings of relief. He gave up three hits and struck out one.

Nakazawa face two batters in his one out of relief. Roman pitched an eventful yet scoreless seventh, and Matsuoka allowed just one runner in the eighth.

Game two, scheduled for tomorrow at 6:30 PM, has now become a make or break contest for the Swallows.

**Game Notes:

  • Hatakeyama was the only bright spot in the Swallows offense. He was 2-4 (Single, K, F8, HR) with two RBI.
  • Stat of the night: Softbank outhit Tokyo 15-4. And Uchikawa wasn’t even playing.
  • All nine of Softbank’s starter recorded at least one hit.
  • Lee was 3-4 batting cleanup.
  • Imamiya also reached base three times care of two singles and an HBP.
The score made this game seem closer than it was. Hopefully the offense lets it all hang out tomorrow night.

The score made this game seem closer than it was. The offense needs to let it all hang out tomorrow night.

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