The Monday Review #7

Welcome to the Monday Review, in which we’ll look back at the week that was and look ahead to the week that will be. We hope a recurring weekly review column will help readers identify some trends that can’t be covered in a single game report. We’re still trying to work out the format, so let us know what you’d like to see in the comments.

What a difference a week makes! The Swallows finished off the first half of Interleague play by visiting the Marines in Chiba, and kicked off the second half with a rematch against the Fighters. The Birds came away with a 5-1 record, and the bats slowly came alive as the week went on. It wasn’t always pretty, but the Swallows managed to hold off the Dragons to retain the CL crown.

The Week That Was

Offensive Resurgence: After spending the last two weeks worrying about our offense, the Swallows’ bats finally came alive this week. The Marines series was still a relatively tight affair, and Game 1 of the Fighters series was a nightmare. Things finally clicked in game 2, the team got its first multi-homerun game in the Interleague, and scored more than 2 runs in an inning for the first time in the Interleague. Then the Eagles came into town and the fireworks came early to Jingu this year. The Swallows absolutely abused the Eagles to the tune of 13 runs off 18 hits including 3 homeruns in Game 1. A 2 homer performance by Hatakeyama in Game 2 helped carry the team to another victory. After hitting only 1 homerun in 13 previous games, the Swallows got 7 in 3 games. Now let’s look at some individual numbers.


Looking at the individual numbers, it’s pretty clear that the trio of Hatakeyama, Whitesell, and Balentien were keys to the offensive resurgence. Hiroyasu wasn’t having a great week but still managed to get batted in 6 times. While Aoki continues to do just enough to keep his numbers from tanking, but wasn’t really doing much to spark the offense. Miyamoto got a lot of singles, but didn’t have much to show for it in terms of runs or RBIs. The shortstop numbers makes us long for the return of Kawabata, but his return is probably still a few weeks away.




Hatakeyama gets molested by Tsubakuro's ladel.



Triple Crown Race: Swallows now occupy 4 out of top 5 batting averages in the CL, with Balentien on top with a .345, followed by Hatakeyama with a .328, Chunichi’s Araki is third with a .319 average, and Aoki and Miyamoto come in at fourth and fifth with averages of .313. The homerun race is still topped by Balentien with 14 dingers, while Hatakeyama is tied with Sledge and Ramirez for second place with 9. Hatakeyama’s big week vaulted him to the top of the RBI leaderboard with 30, and Balentien is close behind in third with 27.

Lucky Arches: Here’s a random fact culled from the Japanese sports dailies. The Swallows are 7-0 when Hatakeyama homers.

Pitching Issues: While the bats came alive this week, the pitching this week became somewhat suspect as the week went on. Tateyama started two games and was his awesome self, Ishikawa put in his usual solid performance and Yamamoto managed to survive another start with his bend but don’t break pitching style. On the other hand, Yoshinori imploded against the Fighters, the Akagama/Masubuchi pair both cast doubt on their ability to throw multiple innings effectively, and our bullpen hasn’t been the model of consistency as every member gave up at least 1 earned run this week. The numbers, once you get past Tateyama and Ishikawa are not pretty.


Obviously this is only one week, and we shouldn’t read too much into any of these numbers, but it’s something to keep in mind.

Roster Moves: The team shook things up after the Chiba series, sending down Guiel, Takeuchi, Ueda, and Araki, and calling up Barnette, Fujimoto, Noguchi, and Yuichi in their stead. It was a little surprising to see Takeuchi get sent down, but nothing terribly unexpected. Earlier today the Swallows recalled Matsuoka and sent down Akagawa. According to a Masubuchi tweet, Matsuken returns to the top team 4 kilograms lighter. Matsuoka had 1 nightmare appearance in Toda, which was reminiscent of his top team meltdown that sent him down in the first place, but has since been pitching well numbers-wise.

Quo Vadimus

Our Opponents: The Swallows play a short week away against the Buffaloes and the Hawks. The Buffaloes have had a successful Interleague campaign so far, going 11-5. The Swallows split the series at Jingu, and will probably get another crack at Alfredo Figaro who held the Birds in check the first time around. Shinya Nakayama, who didn’t start but pitched the most innings in the second game against us, will probably get the second start in Osaka.

The Hawks have absolutely destroying the Central League going a ridiculous 13-1-2, behind their Interleague leading batting and pitching. The Swallows did not look good when the teams met at Jingu but did manage to eke out a tie thanks to the rain. The Swallows will probably hit Hawks ace Sugiuchi, and will get another crack at Settsu.

Potential Moves: With some uncertainty at the back end of our rotation it’s quite possible that our 2010 second round draft pick Shichijo may be called up. Shichijo was drafted with expectations to start but injuries had kept him out for a little while. He recently returned to action starting a game for our farm team. It may not happen this week, but I expect it to happen sooner rather than later.

Upcoming Cheering Article: Once the Interleague schedule ends, the Swallows will have a couple of days off before the Central League schedule resumes. In order to fill the void left by not doing game reports, we hope to kick off a series on how cheering for the Swallows works. If you have any questions you want answered, please leave a comment.

About Kozo Ota

Kozo Ota is a third-generation Swallows fan that grew up on Montreal Expos baseball. (You can read more about that here.) When he's not at Jingu, he works as a freelance translator/interpreter to make enough money to go to Jingu. You can find random posts by Kozo on Google+ and Twitter.