4/20/11 – Chunichi (Home)

April 20th, 2011

Chunichi Dragons 0

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 1

Streak: Won 3   Last 5: LDWWW

(Meiji Jingu Stadium)

 

Tokyo pulled out its third win of the season in somewhat head-scratching fashion at home this afternoon.

Lineup:

Win number one. Will he beat last year's personal best of 12?

1. Aoki CF
2. Tanaka 2B
3. Takeuchi LF
4. Hatakeyama 1B
5. Aikawa C
6. Balentien RF
7. Miyamoto 3B
8. Kawabata SS
9. Yoshinori

Mostly a pitching game throughout, this one started with a whimper as Yoshinori issued walks to three consecutive batters with one out to give Blanco an opportunity to finally get his season started offensively (he finished today’s game with a .188 batting average). Fortunately, however, he slapped the 1-2 pitch straight to Tanaka which resulted in a 4-6-3 double play.

But Tokyo would go on to squander a few chances of its on when it was unable to create runs with two runners on base in the second, fifth and seventh innings. Chunichi starter, Yoshimi, pitched a very solid seven innings in his first appearance of the season.

Yoshinori managed to get things under control after that serious wobble in the first inning and ended up recording a complete game shutout. He was able to keep his pitches down and gave up only two more walks over the rest of the game. His strikeout tally only reached five this afternoon as he relied on his defense to back him up. It was the first time this season that Tokyo’s defense was not assessed with an error.

Yoshinori’s record now stands at 1-1, and his ERA at 1.20. He gave up only three hits today.

When the birds finally did score, they required a little assistance from the visiting Dragons and their reliever, Kawahara.  Back-to-back game hero, Hatakeyama, came up with his sole hit of the game by hitting a full count, low-and-away fastball into right field for a double. Fukuchi was of course brought in to pinch run for the somewhat pace-challenged first baseman.

Then Ochiai gambled by intentionally walking Aikawa in order to get to Balentien. Maybe he wanted to pile some psychological pressure on a guy that had already hit into an inning-ending double play earlier in the afternoon. Or maybe he wanted to force his less-experienced counterpart in the home dugout, Junji Ogawa, to try and ask Balentien to bunt as would be expected from most other players on the team in a similar situation.

 

Yoshinori gives Miwa some love for the bunt-enabled win.

Whatever the scheme was, it worked. With runners on first and second and nobody out, Ogawa chose to bunt.

But not with Balentien at the plate. He yanked hard-hitting righty in favor of Miwa in what was easily his biggest gamble of this very young season.

But the gamble paid off. Miwa bunted the first pitch, a high fastball, back at the pitcher who threw to an as-yet uncovered third base which allowed Fukuchi to scamper all the way home. 1-0 Final.

It’s not sexy, but we’ll take it. The win puts the birds at .500 for the first time this season and moves them into the middle of the central league table.

Miyamoto was the only Tokyo player that recorded a multi-hit game.

It was also the first time this season that the team won a series. Hopefully this is a sign of many more good things to come.

The final game of this series is tomorrow afternoon at 1:30 PM. The Swallows will likely start Tateyama while going for the sweep.

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

  • Anonymous

    Great stuff. We’ll take it….

  • Andy G

    I was on the yahoo baseball site and was wondering how a sac bunt with men on 1st and 2nd turned into a sayonara jobbie! Thanks for the explanation!

    • Rob

      Same here! How could a bad throw on a bunt get a runner home from second?
      I’d never seen that before. I’ve seen that kind of thing for an error, but never to end the game. Amazing….