Mar 30th 2016, vs. Hanshin

March 30th, 2016

Hanshin Tigers 4TS Logo 150x transparent

Tokyo Swallows 8

Streak: Won 1     Last 5: LLLLW

(Meiji Jingu Stadium)

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W: Naruse (1-0)
L: Iwata (0-1)

Well, it took five attempts, but the Swallows finally registered their first win of the 2016 campaign, dispatching the underling Tigers in a manner fitting of their reigning Champions status.

 Tigers Swallows
1Takayama (LF)1Sakaguchi (CF)
2Yokota (CF)2Kawabata (3B)
3Hague (3B)3Yamada (2B)
4Fukudome (RF)4Hatakeyama (1B)
5Gomez (1B)5Yuhei (RF)
6Toritani (SS)6Ugumori (LF)
7Nishioka (2B)7Ohbiki (SS)
8Umeno (C)8Nakamura (C)
9Iwata (P)9Naruse (P)

Ugumori makes an impact

Ugumori makes an impact

And it took a true team performance to get the Swallows’ engines humming once more, with contributions from every corner of the team, from old faces as well as new.

First up for special mention is Naruse, who pitched a quality six innings in his first start of 2016. He allowed just two hits and two walks over his 84 pitch shift, striking out three in the process.

Tokyo took the lead for just the second time this season in the 2nd inning against Hanshin starter Iwata though an unlikely source. Yuhei got things rolling with a chopper to second which allowed him to beat the throw to first. And one out later, Ohbiki hit a double to left, with Yuhei racing from first to beat the Takayama-Toritani relay home, 1-0 Tokyo.

A Hague solo shot just over the fence in left tied things up in the top of the 4th at 1-1, but the lead would be re-taken in the bottom of the inning, again through an unexpected source. New face for 2016 Atsushi Ugumori, who was making his first start as a Swallow, blasted his first long ball in four years into the gurning yellow sea in the left field stands and order was restored, 2-1 Tokyo.

The wheels would finally fall off the shitty Hanshin train in the 6th. Ugumori hit for the second time in the evening, a one-out single to short that Gomez couldn’t come up with at first (a problem that affected him more than once), and was replaced by pinch-runner Ueda who promptly stole second. Nishiura then hit for Ohbiki, and was somewhat fortuitous to see his broken-bat bloop sail just out of reach of Gomez at first, and he had himself a double, and Tokyo a 3-1 lead. Up next was catcher Nakamura, who had managed just a solitary hit over the previous four games. But that mattered not as he clubbed one over the fence in left, and things were looked even more rosy at 5-1.

The Swallows weren’t done yet however. After Hiroyasu Tanaka (in for Naruse) grounded out for out number two, Sakaguchi worked a walk, and Kawabata singled up the middle to put men on the corners and end Iwata’s evening. In came Tsuru but it mattered little as Yamada walked to load the bases for Hatakeyama. The King of Pudding did not disappoint, hitting one to the gap in right to bring home two more runs for 7-1 which wrapped up the scoring at five for the inning.

Tsuru would also allow the eighth Tokyo run in the 7th, with Nakamura again delivering, bringing home Ueda from second to make it 8-1.

After Naruse’s six innings, the new look Tokyo bullpen sprang into action, with Josh Lueke and Sugiura putting up a zero each in the 7th and 8th innings respectively, before Tokuyama wet the bed somewhat trying to shut things down in the 9th. A double-walk-Gomez 3RHR combo pulled the Tigers closer, but Kyuko (K) and Akiyoshi (BB, ground out to second) forced the door shut for a 8-4 Tokyo Final.

Game Notage

  • Naruse was good. If the Swallows are going to get anywhere near the heights they reached in 2015, then more nights like this from Yoshihisa will go a long way to helping out that cause.
  • After 5 games Sakaguchi is hitting a solid .300 in the lead-off spot. He looks good, both with the bat and the glove. Welcome to Tokyo Tomotaka! Same goes for Ugumori on tonight’s (albeit limited) evidence.
  • As well as being the catalyst for the offence early, Ohbiki also made some great plays in the field. His range and poise were on full display fielding a couple of grounders in the 3rd, both for outs.
  • Sugiura is a reliever (so far) this year huh? Okay, think I’m fine with that.
  • Tokyo racked up a whopping 14 hits this evening, Kawabata with 3 of them. Every (non-Naruse) starter got on base at least once.
  • Tomorrow’s rubber game looks pretty exciting, with Kyle Davies making his Swallows debut on the mound against the Tigers’ Randy “run support” Messenger.
About David Watkins

David is a baseball bothering Brummie who spends a fair portion of his life fretting over the Tokyo Swallows and the WORLD’S GREATEST FOOTBALL TEAM, Aston Villa. He completes the quartet of abusive sporting relationships by being a die hard New York Knicks and Mets fan. You can find him on twitter: @yakulto