6/28/11 – Yomiuri (Away)

June 28th, 2011

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 4

Yomiuri Giants 1

Streak: Won 1    Last 5: LWWLW

(Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture)


It was a fairytale start for 26 year old rookie Yuki Shichijo as he put on a sparkling performance to win his first game on his pro-debut. And just to make it all the sweeter, it came against the Giants. Cue satisfied smiles from Tokyo fans across the land.


  1. Aoki (CF)

    Shichijo strikes out Chono in the 1st

  2. Tanaka (2B)
  3. Whitesell (1B)
  4. Hatakeyama (LF)
  5. Balentien (RF)
  6. Miyamoto (3B)
  7. Kawabata (SS)
  8. Aikawa (C)
  9. Shichijo (P)


  1. Sakamoto (SS)
  2. Kamei (3B)
  3. Chono (CF)
  4. Ramirez (LF)
  5. Ogasawara (1B)
  6. Tani (RF)
  7. Abe (C)
  8. Wakiya (2B)
  9. Greisinger (P)

Shichijo was facing off against Swallows old-boy Seth Greisinger, and he got off to the best possible start in the 1st, striking out the first three men he faced.

And as a reward for such a sterling start, his team-mates got him a lead in the top of the 2nd. Hatakeyama got the ball rolling with a leadoff double before the slumping Balentien struck out for out number one. Miyamoto flew out to right, but Hatake just about managed to advance to third safely which brought up Kawabata. The shortstop then hit one over the infield to left for his first hit since returning from injury and it was 1-0 Tokyo. Next up was Aikawa, and he hit one deep to the fence in left, Kawabata raced around the bases from first, beating the throw home by a fraction for 2-0 Tokyo.

But some suspect fielding from the Swallows presented Yomiuri with a chance to get back into the game in the 3rd. Abe hit a flyball to just left of centre, a ball which looked eminently catchable, only it fell a couple of metres in front of Hatakeyama and Shichijo had surrendered his first hit of the game. Things didn’t improve as a Wakiya grounder to second turned from being a possible double play into two men on and no outs after Tanaka fluffed his throw to second (after he’d done well to reach the ball initially). A fluffed bunt attempt from Greisinger led to the out being made at third and left men still on first and second. Sakamoto flew out to second as it looked like Shichijo may escape unscathed, but Kamei poked one through the infield to right and it was 2-1. Chono would then ground out to end the inning with the Swallows lead halved.

In the 4th a one-out double from Ogasawara again threatened, but a groundout from Tani and a satisfying strikeout for Abe kept the rookie with the lead.

Tokyo tried and give their starter some more breathing room in the 5th, as back to back two-out singles from Aoki and Tanaka brought up Whitesell. He came close to adding three runs of said breathing room as he hit a monster foul to the right of the rightfield foul pole. But ultimately, he could only ground out to first and it was still squeaky bum time for Shichijo.

And he ended his superb debut shift with three consecutive 1-2-3 innings before Barnette was brought in to try and preserve his lead in the 8th. Tony allowed two singles to put two men on, but as is often the case, he stayed strong in the pinch, getting Kamei to hit into an inning ending double play.

And the feeling that this may just be Tokyo’s night was cemented in the top of the 9th. Facing reliever Ochi, two quick outs for Kawabata and Aikawa got the inning off to an inauspicious start. Pinch hitter Yuichi then worked a full count walk to occupy first. Aoki doubled to the corner in right and two men were in scoring positions for Tanaka. Cue Beavis who attoned for his earlier error by hitting to left to bring home the two men and make the score a much more comfortable 4-1 Tokyo.

Lim came in to face the meat of the Giants order in the 9th, and despite issuing consecutive two-out walks for Ogasawara and Takahashi, he got pig-boy Abe to ground out to first and Shichijo had himself the dream result on his debut, 4-1 Tokyo Final.

His winning pitching line read: 7 innings, 106 pitches, 3 hits, 7 strikeouts, 0 walks, 1 run, 0 earned runs. Spectacular stuff for the ex-industrial leaguer. Hopefully his first win of many as boy do we need another reliable arm in the rotation.

Barnette’s ERA is now down to 1.29 after his inning of relief while Lim earned his 16th save with his ERA now at 1.42.

Tokyo outhit their opposition 8-5 with Aoki (.313), Tanaka (.238) and Kawabata (.265) with two hits each.

Shichijo said afterwards that he was very nervous going into the game, but Aikawa’s guidance helped him pull thorough and get the job done. He was the first ever Swallows rookie starter to make their debut against the Giants.

With Chunichi getting thumped (14-5!) in Yokohama tonight, Tokyo are now 3.5 games clear atop of the CL. They will face the Giants in Fukushima again tomorrow, before heading back to the inflatable stain-dome in Tokyo on Thursday for the final game of the series.

Winning pitcher, ball, and manager


About David Watkins

David is a baseball bothering Brummie who spends a fair portion of his life fretting over the Tokyo Swallows and the WORLD'S GREATEST FOOTBALL TEAM, Aston Villa. He completes the quartet of abusive sporting relationships by being a die hard New York Knicks and Mets fan. You can find him on twitter: @yakulto

  • Fun stuff.  I posted some brief highlights (just snipped out the recap from the middle of the 9th) at http://sethswallowsmets.wordpress.com/2011/06/28/swallows-at-giants-62811/

  • Trivia question:
    Before Shichijo, when was the last time a rookie starter struck out the first three batters he faced in his pro debut?

    [Disclaimer: I don’t know the answer to the above question.]

  • Muratafan

    This is a tremendously informative site.  With that in mind, does anyone know if there is a Swallows fan who is posting NPB highlights on Youtube?  I’ve scoured pretty intensely, but no such luck as of yet.  Thanks in advance

    • Thank you for the kind words.

      There was a guy who basically posted each day’s Pro Yakyu News highlights chopped up into individual games, but I just checked his channel and it’s gone.

      That tends to be the problem, folks get shut down by the rights holders after a while.

      So short answer: no. 

      Anyone else know of any other channels for highlights on youtube?

    • Kozo

      While it’s not quite highlights every night, the YouTube user YS2011HR posts all the homerun footage of Swallows players.


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