6/5/11 – Tohoku (Home)

June 5th, 2011

Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 5

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 13

Streak: Won 2   Last 5: WWLWW

(Meiji Jingu Baseball Stadium)


This was a wild game. Wild like one of those bird-like things in the Avatar movie except that the game today was real and nobody was wearing blue. Not even me. Don’t hate me.


1. Teppei (RF)
2. Hijirisawa (CF)
3.  Matsui (SS)
4. Yamasaki (1B)
5. Nakamura (LF)
6. Takasu (2B)
7. Kusano (3B)
8. Shima (C)
9. Katayama (P)


1. Aoki (CF)
2. Tanaka (2B)
3. Whitesell (1B)
4. Hatakeyama (LF)
5. Balentien (RF)
6. Miyamoto (3B)
7. Fujimoto (SS)
8. Kawamoto (C)
9. Akagawa (P)

What did I mean by ‘wild’?  Let me recount the ways.

First of all, Tokyo scored first. And that’s just odd.

Tanaka’s one out single to center was followed by a Whitesell double to left. 1-0 Tokyo.

And Tokyo starter Akagawa lasted only two innings despite giving up zero runs.

Both Akagawa and Masubuchi, the latter of which was widely reported as the likely starter for today’s game, were possibly on short tethers in this contest after some thoroughly unimpressive outings in May. Akagawa made it through the first two innings cleanly but was replaced by Masubuchi in the third, and it looked as if that was the plan from the start.

Masubuchi didn’t exactly impress, but he got the win. That’s mostly due to the fact that Tokyo erupted for 10 runs in the bottom of the fourth.

Yup, you read that right. 10 runs.

Part of the eruption was likely due to the fact that Tohoku manager, Hoshino, insisted that his starter, Katayama, work his way through the inning. 10 earned runs later, and despite it being his 18th appearance of the season, Katayama saw his ERA balloon to 7.32.

It’s a shame that one afternoon and an graying manager’s vindictiveness can combine to reduce a decent pitcher’s salary by 50% in the year ahead.

Pssst. Hoshino is evil. Pass it on.

The fourth went a bit like this:

Whitesell started things off by striking out. No worries though. Hatakeyama reached first by getting beaned.

Balentien then singled to center, and Miyamoto followed with an RBI single to center. 2-0 Tokyo.

Fujimoto then doubled to center which scored two. 4-0 Tokyo.

But it kept going. Kawamoto tripled, and then Aoki, Tanaka and Whitesell singled to make it 7-0 Tokyo.

Hatakeyama’s double and Balentien’s homer to center then made it 11-0 Tokyo.

Tohoku recovered a run each in the fifth and sixth innings, but Whitesell and Kawamoto homered in the seventh and eighth, respectively, to render any notion of a comeback or short game impossible. 13-5 Final.

Tohoku did grab four runs off of a very hittable Masubuchi (6 innings, 105 pitches, 13 hits, 4 Ks, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 4 earned runs, 5.48 ERA), and another off of reliever Onodera (1 inning, 16 pitches, 1 hit, 1 BB, 1 earned run, 5.40 ERA), but it was never nearly enough to keep the Eagles in contention.

The good news is that Tokyo was able to pull off an easy win despite offering three pitchers whose average ERA is 6.03, but the bad news is that Tokyo’s pitching was treacherous.

On offense? No complaints. But the wacky thing is that Tohoku matched the Swallows hitting-wise: 18 hits were recorded by both clubs.

The big difference was that nearly everything went Tokyo’s way in this contest. [It’s about ruddy time!]

For example, in the fourth inning with two outs and Aoki prancing around on first, a clever move to strand him between bases plus a bit of absent-minded base-running meant that the inning was surely over a bit prematurely.

But Aoki was somehow able to elude the pickle and sprawl back to first ahead of the tag, and Tokyo then went on to post five more runs.

And yes, Hoshino left Katayama in for the entire inning. Four innings, 92 pitches, 11 earned runs. The entire Japanese media is insistent that’s Hoshino is one of the best managers ever, but…um…wow. What point was he trying to prove?! That his pitcher wasn’t up to the task? To the tune of 10 hits and 10 earned runs?


Whitesell went 4-5 with two singles, a double and his sixth homer of the season (3 RBIs).

Miyamoto chipped in with three singles (1 RBI).

Aoki, Tanaka, Hatakeyama and Balentien all reached base twice with the man from Curacao clubbing his 14th homer and gunning two runners down from right field.

Masubuchi got the win even though he gave up four earned runs off of 13 hits in six innings of work. His record is now even at 3-3, but his ERA plumped out to 5.48.

Game two of the series is tomorrow at six o’clock at Jingu Stadium.

The Swallows are back in the lead in the Central League by a game over the second place Chunichi Dragons.


The Eagles hit safely in all nine innings.

Three Eagles players had three hits each. Three also recorded two-hit games.

Of the Tokyo starters (not including pitcher Akagawa), only Fujimoto failed to reach base at least twice.

Tokyo homered three times in a single game for the first time since 5/13 when Balentien had three against the Yokohama BayStars.

After hitting only one homer in their first 12 Interleague games (Whitesell vs Orix on 5/25), the Swallows have clubbed five in the last two games.

Whitesell was a triple away from the cycle although as far as total bases go he was only a double off of the milestone. Hatakeyama was a double away from the cycle in last night’s game.


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.  Will be there tonight.  Hoping for more of the same on the Bird’s offensive front.  And hopefully a bit tighter on the defense with Tateyama on the mound.  Come on you Birds…

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