4/9/10 – Hanshin (Away)

April 9th, 2010

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 8

Hanshin Tigers 3

Streak: Won 1   Last 5: LLWLW

(Koshien)

After this week’s disappointing series loss to the Hiroshima Carp, the Swallows kicked off a 14-game marathon away from Jingu.

First stop, the not-so-friendly confines of Koshien stadium.

Here’s the starting batting lineup:

1. Miwa LF
2. Tanaka 2B
3. Aoki CF
4. D’Antona 1B
5. Guiel RF
6. Miyamoto 3B
7. Fujimoto SS
8. Kinugawa C
9. Barnette P

We’re seeing continued creativity with the lineup–it’s been a while since we’ve seen the same eight position players starting two games in a row.

The most intriguing story of tonite’s lineup is Tony Barnette and how well he would hold up in Koshien in only his second start in Japan. Koshien, you will remember, is second only to Tokyo Dome in terms of how quickly the uninitiated pitcher can crumble once he starts feeling the pressure.

And by all accounts Barnette had a pretty decent game. He threw 122 pitches in his six innings of work, gave up eight hits (one solo homer) and three walks, beaned one batter, struck out three, and threw one wild pitch. He ended up being tagged with three runs (all earned), and saw his ERA adjust to 2.08.

But before I tell you whether or not he got the win, let’s take a look at some of the action on offense.

Tokyo started off with a run in the first after Miwa singled, and Aoki drove in the run. 1-0 Tokyo.

Hanshin came right back with a run in the bottom of that inning in what looked like a very dangerous situation for Barnette on the mound. The bases were loaded at the end before he got Hanshin’s first baseman, Brazell, to fly out to left. Tied 1-1.

Barnette allowed four base runners again in the third, and like in the first inning, he was able to get out of there after conceding a single run. 2-1 Hanshin.

After that, however, he was able to keep his pitches down a lot more, and the groundouts started to accumulate. The second half of his evening was far more stable as he got five of his final nine outs on ground balls.

Tokyo would pull ahead in the sixth after largely being contained by Hanshin’s starter, Ando, for four innings. Tanaka and Aoki started things off with back-to-back singles before Guiel’s one out blast to right brought home three runs. The homer was Guiel’s sixth of the season. 4-2 Tokyo.

And while Brazell got one back in the bottom of the sixth with a leadoff solo homer, Kinugawa did the same in the top of the seventh to reestablish the two run Tokyo advantage. 5-3 Tokyo.

Matsuoka (1.50), Oshimoto (1.69), and Lim (0.00) were perfect through the final three innings of this contest to ensure the win for Barnette. His record is now 2-0, and I think it’s safe to say that Hye-cheon Lee is going to be staying on the farm team for quite some time to come.

And the birds weren’t done on offense either. Guiel led things off in the eighth with a single before being bunted over to second by Miyamoto. I would normally label this a Tak bunt, but I can’t remember the last time that I’ve seen Shinya this ineffective at the plate. Maybe it’s still a bit too cold for his liking?

At any rate, the value of the bunt was partially negated by Fujimoto’s subsequent walk, and then fully negated by Kinugawa’s bases-clearing triple. 8-3 Final.

Game two of the series is tomorrow afternoon starting at 2pm.

Random notes:

Kinugawa had seven total bases and three rbi’s while going 2-4.

Barnette joins Tateyama as the only two-game winners in the rotation.

Aoki had another big day at the plate going 3-4 with an rbi and one extra time on base via HBP.

Guiel was 2-5 with 3 rbi’s. He is now in sole possession of the lead in the Central League home run race (6). D’Antona is in second with five. Guiel and D’Antona seem to like hitting round-trippers on alternating days. Look for Jamie to go yard next.

Tokyo outhit Hanshin 12-8. Six of Hanshin’s eight hits came in the first three innings before Barnette found his groove.

Barnette currently sports the lowest ERA of any starting pitcher on the team (2.08).

Aoki’s batting average, OBP, and slugging are .490, .569, .776. Damn.

Miwa and Tanaka also had multi-hit games.

Hanshin have now lost six of the seven games they’ve played in April.

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

  • We are playing terribly at the moment, and you Swallows took full advantage of it- congrats.

    • Thanks, Steve. If there's on thing we love, it's winning at the Tokyo Dome, but a win over Hanshin at Koshien is always quite nice.If your guys pick it up, just wait until after the weekend.

  • Impressive win. I like that the guys coming in to cover injuries have, by and large, been contributing. Tonight it was Miwa and Kinugawa. The former managed two hits and scored the game's first run, and the latter had a monster evening. Of our catching options, Kinugawa is by far the best with a bat in his hand.

    Barnette wasn't as sharp as in his first start, with his control not being at it's best, but he got the job done. And we really did need a good foreign arm in the rotation coming into this season, and it looks like Tony's doing his level best to fill that gap.

    And boy, is Aoki having a monster start to 2010 or what?

    D'Antona and Guiel continue to scare the life out of the opposition on a regular basis……there are a lot of positives so far this year.

    But before I get carried away, where's Garrett to provide a bit of pessimism?

    • What I'm pessimistic about is the lack of obvious signs of impending doom – D'Antona has settled in and is producing as we believed he could once given a real shot and getting his manager's trust; Barnette is exceeding my (admittedly pessmistic) expectations; the youngsters are seizing opportunities and largely getting the job done when called upon; and Aoki is Aoki, which is a perennial bright spot. It looks like Miyamoto might be finally entering the early stages of approaching the wall, but that's been incorrectly said before (probably even by me) and he is getting on in years.

      The changes made to Jingu are easy net positives and are a much-needed step in the right direction, the food and merch on offer are improving overall, and even the Fan Club benefits are better.

      So my dark cloud at the moment consists of my certainty that the other boot is going to drop sooner than I'd like and I fear that the fine performances of the team will rightly accrue to Takada's credit in that he is apparently allowing performance to decide who plays rather than just playing whoever he thinks is cute, but that the decent performance of the team will cause people to overlook Takada's continued lack of interest in making decisions based on precedent and odds of success and his continued trouble with learning from his tactical and strategic mistakes on the field.

      With another Climax Series appearance, Takada's tenure will be extended and his shortcomings will continue to limit the team's success and potential more than they enhance it. I think the piece are in place to set up a streak of successes lasting at least a few years, but that the ship lacks the right captain.

      Now why, oh why, does Yakult not aggressively pursue a better TV deal? You know, one that would have Swallows games regularly televised.

      • Quality pessimism there, approached via an avenue of optimism.

        You've outdone yourself.

        • It's all about going the distance – if I ramble long enough, I can find something to complain about on any topic.

    • That was also Miwa's first pro-start.