4/5/09 – Hanshin (Away)

April 5th, 2009

Sanshin TigersTokyo Yakult Swallows cap

Tokyo Swallows 7

Hanshin Tigers 6

Streak: Won 2     Last 3:  LWW

(Kyocera Dome)

Tokyo’s innaugral series of the 2009 season wrapped up this afternoon with game three versus the Hanshin Tigers at Kyocera Dome. With the series split evenly at one game apiece, Hanshin started righty Fukuhara and Tokyo countered with a righty of its own in Ryo Kawashima.

The Swallows got off to a quick start in this game by plating two runs in the top of the first inning. Fukuchi’s leadoff plunking was followed by three consecutive singles to center care of Keizo Kawashima, Norichika Aoki (Fukuchi scored) and Jamie D’Antona (K. Kawashima scored). Aoki’s rbi single was his first hit of the season. The Swallows left two men on base. Tokyo led 2-0.

Keizo Kawashima rounds first after hitting a home run in the first inning.

Keizo Kawashima rounds first after hitting a two-run homer in the second inning.

But the Tigers quickly started a comeback in the bottom of that inning. Akahoshi reached base on a single and was brought home on Kanemoto’s single to right. Kanemoto and Arai then scored on a Sekimoto double. While Fukuhara’s first inning of the season was rough, Kawashima’s was  rougher. At the end of one, Hanshin led 3-2.

In the top of the second, Fukuchi nabbed his first hit of the season with a two-out single. Keizo Kawashima then followed his second home run in as many games to bring Fukuchi around. Kawashima had a grand total of four home runs in 353 plate appearances last season, so it seems there’s a good chance that he will eclipse that mark in 2009. Tokyo back in front 4-3.

Both pitchers settled down a little bit after that, and everything remained relatively quiet until the top of the fifth. With Aoki having drawn a walk, D’Antona launched his first home run of the season to tally his second and third rbi’s of the game. 6-3 Tokyo.

Hanshin brought in Watanabe to pitch the top of the sixth inning and he made quick work of the final third of Tokyo’s batting order (culminating in the strikeout of pitcher Ryo Kawashima who earned another inning by keeping the Tigers off the board after the three-run first). Kawashima got out of the sixth without surrendering any runs.

With Hanshin’s second reliever of the afternoon, Egusa, on the mound, the Swallows were able to squeeze an extra run out of the mix in the seventh on the back of a pair of walks, an error by the pitcher, and some quick base-running. 7-3 Tokyo.

Ryota Igarashi relieved Ryo Kawashima (4.5 ERA; 6 IP, 101 pitches, 7 hits, 3 earned runs, 3 K’s , 1 BB) in the bottom of the seventh, and it didn’t go well. He promptly walked the first two batters he faced and then watched both of them score on a one-out Toritani double. And that would be the end of Igarashi’s afternoon as Satou was called in to deal with Kanemoto. Kanemoto struck out on five pitches. Matsuoka then replaced Satou on the mound to face Hanshin’s Arai with two outs and Toritani still perched on second base. Arai proceeded to ground out to third. 7-5 Tokyo.

Atchison pitched a perfect top of the eighth for Hanshin before Oshimoto took the mound for the birds. He then loaded the bases in a hurry before surrendering a run on a one-out Akahoshi sac-fly to center. 7-6 Tokyo.

Chang-yong Lim entered the game to pitch the bottom of the ninth, and made it through the inning to record his first save of the season.

Ryo Kawashima (1-0) got the win while Fukuhara (0-1) took the loss as the Tokyo Swallows won the season opening series two games to one.

Tokyo hosts the Chunichi Dragons this Tuesday through Thursday at Jingu Stadium. All games start at six o’clock in the evening.

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