4/29/12 – Hiroshima (Away)

April 29th, 2012

  

Tokyo Swallows 0

 Hiroshima Carp 3

Streak: Lost 1       Last 5: WDWWL

(Mazda Stadium, Hiroshima)

After yesterday afternoon’s come-from-behind win, the Swallows looked to make it four wins in a row against the fourth-placed Carp.

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Roman (1-3, 3.57 ERA) took the mound for the birds against Hiroshima’s Nomura (1-1, 1.00 ERA). Roman was coming off of his first win in Japan, a game in which he pitched 5.1 innings and gave up two earned runs off of three hits (one homer).

Nomura started against Chunichi last Sunday at Mazda Stadium, but he didn’t factor in the decision as Sarfate was unable to keep the lid on a tie 2-2 game and ended up getting tagged with the loss. So far this season, Nomura has only lost one game, his previous start against the Swallows.

 Tokyo Hiroshima
1Tanaka (2B)1Soyogi (SS)
2Ueda (CF)2Higashide (2B)
3Milledge (LF)3Hirose (RF)
4Balentien (RF)4Stavinoha (LF)
5Kawabata (SS)5Maru (CF)
6Miyamoto (3B)6Iwamoto (1B)
7Hatakeyama (1B)7Dohbayashi (3B)
8Nakamura (C)8Shirahama (C)
9Roman (P)9Nomura (P)

While Tokyo stranded a number of runners last night, they’ve had more success getting runners across home plate so far this season. The birds have a run differential of +12 while the fish have been struggling at -19.

In four games so far this season, Tokyo has outscored Hiroshima 17-5, and the 1.67 ERA to 5.04 ERA matchup is also solidly in the good guys’ favor.

Today’s game was an important one for Tokyo’s Orlando Roman. With Milledge and Balentien responsible for 42% of the team’s RBI (25-60) and nine of its league-leading 11 homers, it would be hard to argue that either of them needs some extra work on the farm.

And Barnette has been lights-out in the ninth, so he’s not going anywhere.

So Roman needed to do everything in his power to keep his name in the mix.

He got off to a bit of an unlucky start in the bottom of the first as Hirose’s bloop single landed in the one spot between Kawabata and Ueda that neither of them could get to. Soyogi scored from second.

Hiroshima 1-0 Tokyo.

And unfortunately for Tokyo’s offense, Nomura looked very effective early on. Armed with good control and a baffling changeup, he induced 10 groundouts in the first 6 innings (four fly-outs). The Swallows only had one walk to speak of through those first six frames. Nomura had a neat little no-hitter going on only 66 pitches.

And Hiroshima added a couple of insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth after Roman made it through the second, third, fourth, and fifth allowing only two base runners.

After a Higashide groundout, Roman was perhaps guilty of creating some of his own misery when he tried to block a slow come-backer but booted it into an unplayable area in front of short for an infield single.

Next man up, Stavinoha, now batting cleanup for the Carp because of Kurihara’s absence, skied a 1-0 fastball into the left field bleachers to score two for the home side.

3-0 Hiroshima.

Unfortunately, Stavinoha was the clean-up hitter celebrating today.

The birds finally got a second runner on base in the top of the seventh when Tanaka drew a walk after an 11-pitch encounter (five foul balls). After Ueda struck out looking, Milledge check swang and bundled a grounder into right field to break up the no-no bid.

That also put runners on the corners for Coco with one out.

But Balentien’s bat broke (again) and he ended up grounding into a 1-6-3 inning-ending double play.

Abe took the mound for Tokyo to start the bottom of the seventh. In just his third appearance of the season, he got the first two outs pretty easily, and then watched as Ueda misjudged an easy pop-up in center and Soyogi was safe on second.

But he was bailed out by Balentien who made a running basket catch at the warning track in right to bring Nomura out again for the top of the eighth.

Abe’s presence on the mound continued to influence anomalies in the outfield. He very nearly started things off with a man on third thanks to an errant Balentien rocket from the corner in right. Despite doing well to get to the corner in a hurry, and fielding the ball cleanly off the wall, his hurried throw easily cleared Kawabata on the left field side of second, and drew Miyamoto well off third into shallow left to reel it in.

That left third base exposed, and Hirose went for it. With Kawabata unlikely to get there any sooner than Hirose, Abe stepped in to field the bullet from Miyamoto and tag a sliding Carp for the first out.

Stavinoha struck out swinging, but Maru sliced a difficult ball into left that Milledge overran and saw drop behind him. But the fleet-footed Maru decided to try for third, and he was thrown out to end the inning and bring Sarfate to the mound. (Nice throw by Milledge, by the way.)

Takeuchi led off with a single to center before Iihara flied out to shallow right, and Tanaka grounded into a 1-6-3 double play to end the game and Tokyo’s win streak.

So, apparently the Phillie Phanatic has a Japanese cousin. Terrific.

Pitching:

Roman took the loss while pitching six innings of six hit, three run baseball. He struck out one and walked one, and was unlucky to be facing an absolutely locked-in Nomura. Roman is now 1-4 with a 3.77 ERA.

Abe pitched two innings in his third appearance and looked decent. He has a couple of good pitches although his heater appears to be pretty easy for batters to read out of his hand. He faced seven batters and gave up two hits while also striking out two. His perfect ERA is still intact despite the outfield shenanigans.

Hitting:

No comment other than to say that Nomura pitched a hell of a game.

Notes:

Tokyo grounded into three inning-ending double plays.

Nomura was so efficient that this game was over in just two hours and 17 minutes.

31,819 tickets were sold to this game.

Tomorrow’s game is again scheduled for a 1:30PM start. Tateyama (2-0, 2.00 ERA) will take the mound for the Swallows while the Carp will counter with Maeda (3-1, 0.97 ERA).

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