9/25/11 – Chunichi (Away)

September 25th, 2011

Tokyo Swallows 6

Chunichi Dragons 1

Streak: Won 1  Last 5: LLLLW

(Nagoya Dome)

After losing four straight, and three in a row to the second place Chunichi Dragons, the birds saw their lead at the top of the Central shrink to a paltry one-and-a-half games. The big question, of course, was whether or not they could score more than two runs–a feat they had only accomplished once since the 17th of this month.

W: Akagawa (5-1) L: Chen (7-8)

 Tokyo Chunichi
1Aoki CF1Araki SS
2Tanaka 2B2Ibata 2B
3Kawabata SS3Morino 3B
4Hatakeyama 1B4Blanco 1B
5Balentien RF5Tanishige C
6Miyamoto 3B6Hirata RF
7Iihara LF7Matsui LF
8Aikawa C8Oshima CF
9Akagawa P9Chen P

The Swallows got on the board first, and they had some help in the process (thank you, Mr. Morino).

Aoki singled and then was Tak-bunted over to second to start the game off. Kawabata then grounded one to Chen on the mound who was in turn able to catch Aoki being a little bit too aggressive. But Morino threw the ball into shallow center field during the ensuing rundown, and both Kawabata and Aoki were safe on second and third, respectively.

With two on and one out, Hatakeyama fouled off the first fastball he saw, but then watched four straight balls which loaded the bases for Tokyo.

Batting coach, Isei (81), and manager, Ogawa (80), give some love.

Balentien then swung at and missed three straight pitches for the second out, but luckily veteran Miyamoto was coming to the plate. He may have sensed that Chen had regained some confidence in his control and would try again with his heater after having so much success with it against Balentien. He guessed correctly, and knocked the first pitch he saw down the line in right to plate two unearned runs for the Swallows. And Iihara followed with a double of his own down the left field line for another two RBIs. 4-0 Tokyo.

And that was basically the whole game right there.

Akagawa continued his winning ways with another surprisingly good effort. He had a perfect game going through four and a third, and a no-hitter through just over five full innings.

The Swallows, meanwhile, got two more runs in the sixth to put the game completely out of reach. Miyamoto again doubled, and Aikawa reached on a one-out single which put Miyamoto on third. Akagawa bunted Aikawa over over, and then they both came home thanks to a little bit of good luck when Aoki grounded one sharply just to Araki’s side of second. To be fair, Araki did excellently to even get near the ball, and he almost gloved it. He couldn’t hold onto it, however, and the ball squirted into no-man’s-land in shallow center which allowed enough time for both Miyamoto and Aikawa to score. 6-0 Tokyo.

With Akagawa looking to secure his first career complete game shutout, the Dragons finally got one back. And it was the recently-fire-hot Tanishige that drove in the run with two outs and a man on in the bottom of the ninth. 6-1 Final.

At any rate, Akagawa got the complete game win, and the Swallows salvaged a modicum of pride with the relatively easy win. Akagawa threw 131 pitches, gave up five hits, struck out three and walked three. His ERA improved to 1.83 after giving up the solo earned run over nine innings of work, and his record now stands at 5-1.

Akagawa gets some love of his own for not requiring the assistance of the bullpen.

Aoki, Iihara and Miyamoto all had two hits and two RBIs each today, and Hatakeyama deserves credit for drawing two walks and scoring once.

The Tokyo Swallows have Monday off to prepare for a three game series against the fourth place Hanshin Tigers who are currently eight games behind Tokyo in the Central League standings and two games adrift of the third and final playoff spot which is currently occupied by Yomiuri.

Tokyo now has a 2.5 game lead over the second place Chunichi Dragons. They next head to Hiroshima for a three game set against the Carp.

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

  • A night off, just what the ailing bullpen needed.

    But who’d have thought Akagawa would be the one to give it to them? Shame he couldn’t get the complete game shutout though.

    Despite the 3-1 series loss, it was a pretty closely contested affair, and I think the two teams are evenly matched. And Tanishige can’t possibly be as red-hot the next time we face them in Nagoya (Oct.10-14) so there is cause for optimism, as his form was pretty much the difference between the teams this time.

  • A terrific job by “Gian” Akagawa! 

    A day of rest for the bullpen and throwing practice for outfielders are needed today. 

    • “……..and throwing practice for outfielders are needed today.”

      Absolutely this.