Tokyo Swallows Snapshot: April 23rd, 2012

Something to read while remembering to keep your hands in your pockets.

Swallows of the Week

Week 3

Last week’s vote saw the strong performances by Hiroyasu Tanaka (2B), Lastings Milledge (LF), Katsuki Akagawa (P), and Kyohei Muranaka (P).

28 people cast their vote this week, and here’s what they decided:

Hiroyasu Tanaka1968
Lastings Milledge621
Katsuki Akagawa27
Kyohei Muranaka14

Congratulations to Beavis, a very well-liked player in these parts. We’re excited to see him having a chance to swing the bat more often this season (now that he’s not on perpetual bunt duty), and we hope to see him lead a threatening top of the order for Tokyo.

Week 4

HR number four (2nd this weekend).

Tokyo played six games this week: one in Kobe, two at Koshien, and a three-game home stand at Jingu against Yomiuri.

The birds were outscored 6-10 in their series against Hanshin, but played decent baseball throughout most of those games. They then returned home for the Tokyo derby and took the series against Yomiuri.

In case you missed them, here are game reports:

April 17th vs Hanshin (Away)
April 18th vs Hanshin (Away)
April 19th vs Hanshin (Away)
April 20th vs Yomiuri (Home)
April 21st vs Yomiuri (Home)
April 22nd vs Yomiuri (Home)

Overall, the birds won four and lost two last week.

And here are the contestants for your week 4 vote:

Katsuki Akagawa (P) – The 21-year-old lefty pitched Tokyo’s first complete game shutout of 2012. In fact, it was the first time that any starter went the full nine, period. In the process, he faced 32 batters and threw 127 pitches (5 H, 6 K, 1 BB). He’s now 2-1 after four starts and leads all Swallows starters with a 0.95 ERA and .210 opposing team batting average.

Wladimir Balentien (P) – Suddenly more focused both in the field and on the basepaths, Coco got on base in all six games last week. He had six hits (two homers), three RBI, and two walks last week. When the Swallows returned to defend Tokyo against the Giants, he was switched up to cleanup in place of the ineffective Hatakeyama, and that’s when both home runs appeared.

Tony Barnette (P) – The week 2 Swallow of the Week was back at it again in week 4. He took the mound in the ninth three times last week, each time to protect a one-run lead. He allowed just one runner last week and converted all three save opportunities. His three strikeout performance on Friday was a clear indication of how well he’s throwing at the moment. His ERA remains at zero, and he has a NPB career-high seven saves which is good enough for second for second in the Central League. He was also ready to go Saturday night when Akagawa was attempting to get through the ninth on his own.

Shingo Kawabata (SS) – Tokyo’s shortstop continues to display some of the gap power that he displayed last season which was highlighted by his bases clearing triple on Saturday. Like Balentien, he had six hits and three RBI last week while mixing in a pair of walks as well. His defense at short was also solid, and he has teamed nicely with Tanaka in turning a number of clutch double plays. He currently leads the team in hits (20) and has done a good job of protecting the cleanup hitter.

Orlando Roman (P) – With a five-man rotation, someone has to pitch twice in the same week. Although the team had been able to avoid doubling any of its starters up earlier in the month, Roman became the workhorse of the week. He pitched six full innings on Tuesday and 5.1 on Sunday. During those eleven and one-third innings he allowed nine hits (two homers) and four earned runs. He worked hard in the rain on Sunday and was awarded with his first NPB win.

OK, Tsubamegun, cast your vote. Click the button for your Swallow of the Week. Please vote only once.

Roster Updates

There were no major roster updates announced by the team last week.

From the Farm

It sounds like Yoshinori’s rehab had another setback and he may not be ready to rejoin the top team until Golden Week or later. Instead, there are rumblings that Shichijo may get promoted to relieve some pressure on the starting rotation. (HT Yakyu Baka)

As for minor league performances, it seems like outfielder Jun Matsui is playing alright. He has appeared in 22 games so far and has a slash line of .345/.371/.452 with a team-leading 29 hits.

None of Tokyo’s minor league starters are exactly tearing it up at the moment, but Chikara Onodera seems to be posting serviceable numbers. Through 12 innings of middle relief, he’s posted a 0.75 ERA.

Tanaka has been clutch protecting the middle of the infield.

Around the Central

Chunichi finished the week with five wins and one loss. They took two of three from Yomiuri at Nagoya Dome and then swept Hiroshima at Mazda Stadium to make it five wins in a row. Chunichi is still in first place.

Yomiuri finished the week 1-5. Sugiuchi helped earn a series-opening win on Tuesday in Nagoya, but the Giants haven’t won since. They wrapped up their week by being swept by the Tokyo Swallows at Jingu. They remain in last place in the CL, half a game behind Yokohama.

Hanshin finished the week 3-3. They took two of three from Tokyo on their home soil but then only won a single game in Yokohama this past weekend. They remain in third place, half a game behind the second place Tokyo Swallows.

Hiroshima finished the week 3-3. With all six games played at home, they swept the Baystars to start the week and then dropped three in a row to the visiting Dragons. They are fourth in the Central, 1.5 games behind third place Hanshin.

Yokohama finished the week 2-4. After getting swept by Hiroshima away, they returned home and took two games from the visiting Tigers. They’re doing just enough to stay out of sixth place at the moment.

The Week Ahead

The birds will host current CL front-runners, Chunichi, on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. All games are scheduled for a 6PM start. Both teams swept their most recent opponents and hope to take advantage of that momentum during the upcoming matchup.

Tokyo has Friday off and will travel to Hiroshima for a three-game set with a 1:30PM first pitch scheduled for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

Former Swallows

Norichika Aoki finally got his first major league start and collected his first home run in the process, an inside-the-park round tripper.

He batted second and finished the game 2-4 with six total bases (HR, 2B), two runs scored, and one RBI.

Seth Greisinger has been pitching well for the Chiba Marines. He’s 2-0 through two starts and 15 innings of work. He’s averaging a strikeout per inning, and he has yet to give up an earned run.

Former Tokyo third baseman, Akinori Iwamura, played in his first minor league game on Saturday. It was his first day back in competitive action after hurting his right hamstring more than a month ago.



That’s it for this week’s snapshot. Please excuse me while I start peeling.

Drink up!

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