Tokyo Swallows Snapshot: June 25th, 2012

Welcome back, Swallowers!

Here’s something for you to read while searching for an opponent.

Swallows of the Week

Week 11

Here is a recap of the top performers from Week 11 (copied from this post):

Kazuhiro Hatakeyama (1B) – notched the most hits on the team last week, going 6-21 at the plate. He was also the only Swallow to reach base safely in all five games. He had one homer and one RBI.

Jun Matsui (OF) – the youngster spins himself into the ground with his Ogasawara-esque cuts at the plate, but he made some solid contact last week while helping the team win a couple of games. He was 5-13 at the plate with three RBI, a walk, and an HBP. He also hit the first home run of his career on Sunday with a shot that cleared the center field wall.

Itsuki Shoda (P) – the former rookie of the year made two relief appearances this week and pitched a total of three innings. He allowed three hits and no runs while striking out four.

Hiroyasu Tanaka (2B) – reached base in all but one of last week’s games. He was 3-14 for the week with a double and a triple while driving in three runs and drawing three walks.

16 people took the time to make a selection, and here’s what they had to say:

Jun Matsui (OF)1063
Kazuhiro Hatakeyama (1B)425
Itsuki Shoda (P)213
Hiroyasu Tanaka (2B)00

Congratulations to Jun Matsui, the first ever rookie of the year-eligible player to win SOW honors! The third year outfielder will turn 25 later this year and will hopefully make many more appearances in the Tsubamegun polls.

Week 12

The Snapshot took an unexpected and unannounced week off, so we have a backlog of polls for you. But that’s good because there’s more things for you to click. Here are the top performers from two weeks ago when interleague was finally winding down. These stats are taken from the four games played between June 13th and 17th.

Wladimir Balentien (RF) — Coco only had two hits in week 12, but they were both bombs that decided games in Tokyo’s favor.  He won the game with a three run bomb in the 9th inning against Tohoku on the 13th, and then he did the same thing on the 17th up in Sapporo against the Fighters. Both games were decided by a single run. Coco was 2-13 at the plate with two homers, six RBI, and five walks.

Tony Barnette (P) — Barnette pitched in all four games that week, and he came away with three saves for his efforts. He pitched a total of three innings, gave up just one hit, struck out three, walked one, and didn’t allow a run to cross home plate. Those three saves kept him in second place in the Central with 16.

Shingo Kawabata (SS) — Shingo had a solid week on offense with a 6-17 performance (.353 average) including a triple on Saturday.

Shinya Miyamoto (3B) — Shinya was on fire during the first half of week 12’s northern tour. He was 5-5 with an RBI on the 13th, and he followed that up with a 2-3 day at the plate the following evening. He didn’t get on base when the team was up in Hokkaido, but he still let the team in average (.438) with a 7-16 week at the plate. All seven of those hits were singles.

Just missing the ballot:

Katsuki Akagawa (P) — Got the win on June 14th (7.2 IP; 99 NP; 4 H; 3 K; 2 HBP; 1 R; 1 ER).
Jun Matsui (OF) — 5-14 at the plate with a solo homer, a double, and a walk.
Lastings Milledge (OF) — 5-17 at the plate with an RBI and two walks.

Week 13

Tokyo saw a couple of games at Tokyo Dome get away from them, and they finished the week 1-2-1. I’ve included that twice cancelled game against Chiba, the last game of Tokyo’s forgettable interleague performance, in the calculations for this week’s numbers. The top performers from last week were:

Katsuki Akagawa (P) — Akagawa put together another quality start on Friday. He threw 121 pitches over seven innings of five hit, two run baseball. He struck out five while walking just one batter.

Wladimir Balentien (RF) — Balentien gets another nomination thanks to his 3-15 performance at the plate. All three hits were homers which accounted for  six RBI. He deserves a large chunk of the credit for Tokyo’s win on Friday up in Nagano, and he added two walks and an HBP for good measure. Coco has five hits over the past eight games, and all five of them have been home runs.

Masanori Ishikawa (P) — He scattered six hits over eight innings on Sunday afternoon while striking out six and walking two (one intentional). Unfortunately, two of those hits were solo homers, but two earned runs over eight innings and 125 pitches is not too shabby at all.

Lastings Milledge (OF) — Milledge was 5-16 at the plate while splitting time in left and center. He drew two walks and put together his best offensive game on Sunday at Tokyo Dome when he was 3-5 with a solo homer.

Make your choice below.

Just missing the ballot last week:

Ryo Hidaka (P) — Hidaka pitched in all four games last week. He gave up three hits, struck out one, and surrendered one earned run over 2.2 innings of work.
Itsuki Shoda (P) — Shoda made appearances in three of the four games last week and is quickly inching toward the later innings. He pitched two complete innings and gave up one earned run while striking out three and allowing just one hit.

Dishonorable mention:

Kazuhiro Hatakeyama (1B) — Fludge was 1-18 at the plate last week and also had an egregious unforced throwing mishap when he misfired to second base on Sunday. Fortunately the runner didn’t score.

Roster Updates

Hirai (P) was brought back up on the 13th, and Masubuchi (P) was dropped two days later. Hiyane (OF) was promoted on the 16th, and Fernandes (P) followed suit on the 23rd. Lim was shut down on the 23rd after complaining of elbow pain in his throwing arm.

Muranaka, Ishikawa, Yamamoto, Tateyama, Barnette, Hidaka, Akagawa, Shoda, Oshimoto, Fernandes, Hirai

Aikawa, Kawamoto, Nakamura

Kawabata, Miyamoto, Tanaka, Fujimoto, Hatakeyama, Noguchi, Miwa, Morioka

Hiyane, Fukuchi, Balentien, Miyade, Jun Matsui, Milledge

*28 of 28 spots filled.

From the Farm

The mini birds started out by dropping two straight to the visiting Tohoku Eagles. On Tuesday (June 12th), Nakazawa only last two innings while

Tokyo settles for a tie on Sunday.

surrendering seven runs (six earned), and both Kiya and Kinoshita followed with three innings apiece of three run baseball. Only Watanabe was able to keep the visitors off the board (he pitched the ninth). Hiyane was 3-5 while starting in right field as Tohoku whupped us, 13-4.

The fun times continued the following day as Roman, making his second farm team appearance, was tagged with eight runs over five innings of work. Kyuko gave up four in just two-thirds of an inning of relief duty. Aso, Tokyo’s second baseman, was 3-5 with an RBI. Tohoku won this contest 13-8.

The farm team finally got a win with Rafael Fernandes on the mound. He improved his record to 4-1 with an ERA of just 1.70 after throwing 108 pitches and scattering five hits over 7.2 innings of work. He struck out four and walked four while allowing two runs (both earned). Matsuoka also made his second farm team appearance. He pitched a scoreless two-thirds of an inning in relief. 6-2 Final.

After a bit of a rest which included a Futures game that the Swallows won 2-1, regular farm league games continued in neighboring Chiba Prefecture. Masubuchi started for the mini birds on Tuesday (June 19th), and he gave up six hits and two runs over five innings of work. Unfortunately, the offense wasn’t able to hit Chiba’s Karakawa very much, and only Yuichi was able to record a multi-hit game. Former Tokyo Swallow, Josh Whitesell, was 2-3 with two RBI while DHing for the Chiba Marines. Chiba won 4-2.

Tokyo dropped another close game the following day when Yuki Mizuno, one of our backup catchers, was slotted in at third base for the bottom of the ninth after his pinch-hit sac fly to center tied the game at six in the top of that frame. His fielding error allowed the winning run to score in walk-off fashion. Five of Tokyo’s starters had multi-hit games, and Yagi pitched six innings of five-hit, one-run baseball, but it wasn’t enough. Chiba won 7-6.

Much like in their series against the Eagles, Tokyo finally put things together in the last game of the series. Roman scattered four hits and didn’t give up a run in six innings of work, and Tokyo’s 4-5-6 of Yuichi, Sato, and Nishida all had two-hit games. Tokyo won 3-0.

But the celebrations were short-lived as the Swallows then dropped a pair of games to the visiting Baystars. The first game was on Saturday (June 23rd), and the birds allowed nine runs, but only three of them were actually earned. Katoh started and got tagged with the loss despite the fact that all three of his runs were unearned. Matsuoka later allowed three, but all of them were earned. Anyway, Tokyo’s offense scattered a few hits, but weren’t able to get anything going against Yokohama’s Yamamoto, Kobayashi, or Ejiri. Tokyo didn’t draw a single walk in this game. 9-0 Yokohama.

Nakazawa looked a little better on the mound yesterday. He allowed just one run (homer) over seven innings and 104 pitches. He struck out one and walked three. And despite Kusuki’s 2-3 performance at the plate, the birds weren’t able to put up much of a fight against Wan’s eight inning gem. Yokohama won 2-1.

Around the Central League

The first place Dragons were 3-3 over the last two weeks. They dropped both of their games and were held scoreless in Fukuoka before taking both games that they played against Orix at Kyocera Dome. They then split their short series against Hiroshima. Hirose added three saves to his tally during those six games. Their 33-21-10 record puts them one game ahead of second place Yomiuri with a .611 winning percentage and a +15 run differential.

The second place Giants were 3-3-1 over the last two weeks. They split both of their interleague series with the Fighters and Eagles before losing one, winning one, and drawing one against your Tokyo Swallows this past weekend. Their 33-23-6 record keeps them five games ahead of the third place Tokyo Swallows, and they currently have a +59 run differential thanks to their imposing rotation and league-leading team ERA of just 2.26.

The third place Swallows were 4-3-1 over the last two weeks. They swept the Eagles up in Tohoku before splitting a pair of games with the Fighters in Sapporo. After getting whupped by Watanabe (Chiba) last Wednesday, the birds beat the Giants in Nagano before losing the second game and drawing the third at Tokyo Dome. Their 29-29-4 record has them tied for third with Hanshin with a .500 winning percentage and -16 run differential. Their team ERA of 3.14 is second worst in the CL (guess which team is last) while the runs scored tally (190) is third best.

Tied for third with the Swallows is Hanshin. They were 4-2-1 over the last two weeks. The Tigers split a short interleague series at Seibu Dome before winning one and drawing the second in Chiba against the Marines. They resumed their CL schedule against the Baystars, and after Messenger lost the first game, the Tigers went on to take the next two with Murton hitting just his second homer of the season on Sunday. Their 28-28-6 record has them tied with Tokyo for third place, and they have a +8 run differential. Along with the Swallows, the Tigers are 3.5 games ahead of the Hiroshima Carp.

The fifth place Carp were 3-2-1 over the last two weeks. They tied one and won one in Chiba, and then the Carp split a pair of two-game series against both the Lions and Dragons. Their 25-32-6 record is good enough for a .439 winning percentage and a -24 run differential. The Carp are currently 4.5 games ahead of Yokohama in the CL standings.

The sixth place Baystars were 4-5 over the past two weeks. They split a pair of series against both the Buffaloes and Hawks before dropping a rained-out game last Monday against the Fighters. They then won their typhoon-delayed rematch up in Sendai against the Eagles on Wednesday night before winning one and dropping both weekend games at Koshien. Their 20-36-5 record and .357 winning percentage has them sitting firmly in last place with the worst record in NPB. Their -62 run differential and CL worst 3.63 team ERA are part of the problem.

The Week Ahead

The Swallows will be in Okinawa on Tuesday and Wednesday as they take on the Yokohama Baystars in a pair of games that start at 7PM. Thursday is a travel day, and the Swallows will host the Hanshin Tigers this weekend in a three-game series.

6/26 at Yokohama (in Okinawa) – 7PM
6/27 at Yokohama (in Okinawa) – 7PM
6/29 vs Hanshin (at Jingu) – 6PM
6/30 vs Hanshin (at Jingu) – 2PM
7/1 vs Hanshin (at Jingu) – 2PM

Former Swallows

Alex Ramirez (Yokohama) started the month with a big bagel in the walks column. He has since drawn three.

Norichika Aoki (Milwaukee) won his first Brewer of the Week honors over at Brew Crew Ball, and it seems like the fans over there are really starting to take a liking to him. 82% of respondents to a recent fan tracking poll on the same website said that Aoki should be an everyday starter in the outfield.

OK, thanks for joining us again.

If you’ll excuse me, I have to go do something important.

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