5.13.2011

Yakult Swallows-6 Yokohama BayStars-4

                another goofy interview by our favorite Dutchman.
 Nothing like looking at the schedule and seeing the BayStars as your next opponent...especially if your name is Wladimir Balentien. He went yard three times today to raise his league leading total to 12. He outscored the Baystars by one run just with his bat.

Yokohama took an early lead but Balentien got it right back with his first homerun. In the next inning, the Swallows added three more runs off of Kazuhiro Hatakeyama's sac fly and another Balentien homer (broken bat homer).

The Baystars made things interesting and cut the deficit to one in the sixth, but Balentien put the game out of reach with his final homerun in the eighth.

Yoshinori did not have his best stuff today but still worked through seven innings and gave up just three runs. He struggled with location for much of the day but was able to work out of several jams. Tony Barnette has a thing for bases loaded with no one out because he juiced the bases for the second straight game with zero of the OUT lights lit up. He gave up one run, but still got credit for the hold. Lim Chang-Yong came in to grab another easy save to break the Swallows winless streak. They go back at it with the Baystars at 1 a.m. EST.

**The Carp lost so the Swallows maintain possession of first place.

© 2011, copyright Julian Jowise

5.12.2011

Series Preview: Yokohama BayStars 5/13-5/15

                  After having the Dragons' series rained out, the Swallows head to Yokohama, eager to break a three game win-less streak. They actually are back in sole possession of first place in the CL after Hiroshima's loss to the Tigers last night. They will look to extend that lead in the last series before interleague play begins.

The BayStars have been playing some great baseball, winning 5 of their last 6. Their whole lineup has been getting the job done and they have been finding ways to pull out a victory; only one of their wins was a blowout. Termel Sledge took a knee to the face in their last game and it is unclear whether he will be ready for tonight's game.

The Swallows are well rested after a couple of rain-outs and off days. Ishikawa is still slated to make the start; he was originally supposed to pitch on Tuesday. Refer to this for more Swallows analysis because nothing has changed since it was written.

Prediction: The Swallows, with their ever reliable top of the rotation, stop the Baystars' hot streak and finish league play with a sweep.

© 2011, copyright Julian Jowise

Masanori Ishikawa x Yoshinori Sato Feature



Cool feature on the 31 year old Ishikawa and the 21 year old Yoshinori. It's in Japanese, it's just a interview with both players discussing the differences in age and how that has influenced them to be baseball players.

© 2011, copyright Julian Jowise

5.11.2011

Yakult Swallows vs. Chunichi Dragons - RAINOUT

The recent rain in Japan has made it impossible for any baseball to be played in outdoor stadiums, with six games getting rained out the last two nights. It sucks too, because I was in a huge baseball mood, waking up at five o clock with no problem, ready to watch my first baseball game in a while. I ended up watching my PL team, the Buffaloes, blow a two run lead to the Hawks. I also caught a bit of our next opponent's win versus the Giants. The BayStars' Bryce Harper saved the day with a two run blast late in that one. The Baystars have won the last two against the Giants and go for the sweep tonight, before facing our Swallows.

The Swallows/Dragons game will be made up in October.


© 2011, copyright Julian Jowise

5.10.2011

Around the NPB - 5/10/11 - Darvish vs. Iwakuma

Two of the best pitchers in Japan squared off with predictable results. Darvish went 9 innings for the complete game shutout, fanning 15. Iwakuma left in the ninth with an apparent injury. He only allowed two runs but was tagged with the loss because of a Sho Nakata two run homer.
 
© 2011, copyright Julian Jowise

Yakult Swallows vs. Chunichi Dragons -RAINOUT

The game will likely be made up in October. More rain in the forecast, but the Swallows and Dragons will try to play their last game of the series with Ishikawa still the probable starter.


© 2011, copyright Julian Jowise

5.09.2011

Series Preview: Chunichi Dragons 5/10-5/11

featuring the Chunichi Dragons.
The Swallows are back at it, AGAIN, with the Dragons. As sick as I am of seeing these guys, I'd be even sicker of them if we weren't 5-1 against them. Let's hope we can keep up our success versus our friends from Nagoya.

The Dragons certainly fared better than us in the 2 game break after our last game with them. They lost 2-1 to the Giants before rebounding for a 6-0 win. It seems the Dragons employ a strategy of lulling the opponents to sleep by losing games until exploding offensively in the last game of the series. Since the upcoming series is another quick two-gamer, the Swallows will hope for a sweep, rather than a split. The Swallows blew the CL lead in their last series against the Carp, and there are several causes for concern:
     
      1. Wladimir Balentien is no longer synonymous with Hank Aaron - He has struggled of late, not homering every single time at the plate. Seriously though, he has been striking out more frequently and does not look quite the same as he did a week or two ago.
      2. Bullpen - With Kenichi Matsuoka's demotion, there is a domino effect in the bullpen. Tony Barnette moves into the ace setup role quite nicely, but that leaves a pretty important role with no name attached. Likely, Oshimoto will hold the position down with Kyuko replacing Oshimoto in his old role.
      3. Murderer's row moniker no longer applicable - With everyone coming back down to Earth, the lineup is not the same as a week or two ago when the CL was in fear of the Swallows hitters. They must now find new ways to win, or hope that everyone goes on a hot streak again.

Masanori Ishikawa and Yoshinori Sato are the probable starters in this series. This is the third time the Dragons see both of these guys so I wouldn't be surprised if they get a few runs off of them. On the other hand, they've combined to give up just 5 earned runs in the four starts against the Dragons, so they could just have their number.

Prediction: Swallows take two...hopefully. Even if we don't, the Baystars are our next opponent so there's no need to worry.

© 2011, copyright Julian Jowise

5.08.2011

Yakult Swallows-3 Hiroshima Carp-3

           The result isn't bad, nor is it good. What it means is that we leave Matsuyama tied for the CL lead. It's not the worst thing that could have happened, especially after being down early to Carp ace Kenta Maeda. The Swallows clawed back in this one after being down 3-0 early. They even had a chance to steal a win in the ninth, but pinch hitter Kawamoto didn't get a chance to come through in the clutch because Kazuki Fukuchi was PICKED OFF of second base. That's how the game's gonna end? A PICK OFF?! Come on! Fukuchi's been a great pinch runner so far this year but to end the game by being picked off (of second no less) is inexcusable for anyone, let alone a man who prides himself on baserunning. It was only the end of the ninth inning but because of the 3 and a half hour rule, the game was ruled a tie.

Masubuchi was pretty average, going 6 2/3 and giving up three runs. He had a wild spell early when he walked home a run. He had five walks overall, and that is unacceptable if he wants to be successful in this league.

The Swallows got 10 hits but only produced three runs. They'll need to string more hits together and make the runners on base have an impact on the game in order to score more. The pitchers must do better in limiting early damage so the hitters aren't forced to continuously battle back.

The Swallows get a day off before another series with the Dragons, who just shut out the Giants 6-0.

© 2011, copyright Julian Jowise

5.07.2011

Hiroshima Carp-9 Yakult Swallows-6

**I want to apologize for the late recap and warn the readers (if there are any) that recaps may not be as detailed as usual until May 13th, when I get done with exams and start my summer. I missed the game yesterday and will miss the one tonight. Some recaps, like today, will be a few words. Hopefully I can get some highlight videos for future games, but couldn't find one today. Again, sorry to those who depend on this for recaps and game links, just cut me a little slack til the thirteenth.


The Swallows saw their CL lead disappear with a poor performance by Nakazawa. They send Masubuchi to the hill tonight to hopefully leave Matsuyama with the CL lead. If the Swallows lose tonight, it will be their third straight, and as well as they have played to this point, they would be looking up to the Carp in the standings.


A promising sign was seeing the Swallows fight back and make it close even after being down big early. This is not the first game they've done it in and is certainly a promising sign. The young Masubuchi has been inconsistent. After throwing 8 shutout innings against the Baystars (I know, I know, but still impressive), he pitched poorly against the Carp and Tigers, allowing 8 total runs in two starts. If he can find his form and cement a bottom of the rotation spot, he will be a valuable asset to the team.

© 2011, copyright Julian Jowise

5.06.2011

Series Preview: Hiroshima Carp 5/7-5/8

That's one big carp!
The Swallows meet up with the Carp for a quick two game series in Matsuyama with the Swallows as the "home" team, even though Matsuyama is much closer to Hiroshima than Tokyo. The Carp sit just one game back of the Swallows, so this is an important series in terms of deciding who will be the CL leader when interleague play rolls around.

The Carp will have the benefit of facing the bottom half of our rotation. The bullpen is in a little bit of disarray with the demoting of Kenichi Matsuoka, our struggling setup man. He was removed from the active roster and will have to wait 10 days before he is eligible to return. He had the one bad outing versus the Dragons, but he hasn't been as sharp overall this season. Tony Barnette is the likely candidate to replace Matusoka as top setup man. He has been very reliable this year with a miniscule 0.93 ERA.

5.05.2011

Chunichi Dragons-6 Yakult Swallows-2

It was a matter of time before the Dragons' bats woke up, and we're lucky it happened in the final game of the series and not the first. The top 6 hitters in the lineup went a combined 13 of 27 with 3 homeruns and 8 RBIs. Some of it had to do with a poor performance by Kenichi Matsuoka, but they were already smacking the ball around before the eighth inning.

5.04.2011

Yakult Swallows-4 Chunichi Dragons-3



Another game, another win. Recaps are fun when we're winning! Lim Chang-Yong pitched up his 100th save in Japan with a shaky performance in the ninth but that's what insurance runs are for. Congratulations to everyone's favorite Korean pitcher.

5.03.2011

Yakult Swallows-5 Chunichi Dragons-3

Fukuchi and Miyamoto pose with Pink Lady, as they are the only two players old enough to remember the duo.
The first pitch was thrown out by 70's pop group Pink Lady. Yea, I had no idea who they were either, but enjoy their big hit, "Kiss in the Dark" (took some research):

 It actually works better if you let the music play while you read the recap, really adds some flavor. Ok, ok...now to the good stuff. Masanori Ishikawa took the hill looking for his 100th victory. He didn't have his best stuff today. He started shakily, giving up a hit in the first before Morino grounded into a double play to end the inning. In the second his penchant for letting runners on base hurt him, as he gave up the first run of the game. 1-0 Dragons.

5.02.2011

Series Preview: Chunichi Dragons 5/3-5/5

The Dragons opt for a supportive approach, high-fiving Joel Guzman after another strikeout.
After a week of highs and lows, the Swallows regrouped for a day before heading home to Jingu for a series with the reinvigorated Chunichi Dragons. The Dragons were a sorry looking squad when we swept them two weeks ago. Their lineup would have had trouble scoring a run in my dad's slow pitch softball league. As it was, they managed just two runs in three games, tallying a whopping total of 13 hits in three games. Since then they have gone 5-1, sweeping the Baystars, and taking two of three from the Carp. Let's take a closer look at the numbers though:

Average runs for the six games: 3. Not a huge total. Certainly surmountable for the Swallows who have averaged a whole run more during their last six.

5.01.2011

Yakult Swallows-6 Hanshin Tigers-2

Even after an ominous start, the Swallows were able to salvage a game in their series against the Tigers, and move back into sole possession of first place in the CL. Kyohei Muranaka left the game after facing just three batters due to an apparent right flank injury. He had just been activated so it's a shame to see him miss any more time. He iced it, and the team will decide what to do after they see his progress.

Kosuke Matsui came in to relieve Muranaka and promptly gave up a two-run home run to Takahiro Arai, who absolutely killed us this series. 2-0 Tigers.

4.30.2011

Swallows Lose Two Straight, Widespread Panic in Tokyo

Hatakeyama didn't have his best game.
I'm gonna go ahead and use a mulligan. I earlier called for Kazuhiro Hatakeyama to be the left fielder. Junji Ogawa heard my cry and obliged. Boy did I mess that one up. Hatakeyama blew the game in the first inning, by allowing what should have been a routine flyout to fall next to his pathetic body, which had clumsily tried to dive for a ball which he had over pursued (video after the jump). This allowed the Tigers to command an early lead, and they never looked back.

4.29.2011

What is the Best Lineup?

Someone want to send this lineup to Ogawa-san?
So we finally lost a game. Now it's time to panic and decide how we can go undefeated for the rest of the year. Let's start with the lineup. Hopefully Junji Ogawa has caught wind of my verbal attack on Iihara and decides to sit him, at least for the time being. If he is going to continue to play him, why not move him down in the order to relieve some of the pressure. Hitting 7th will have a positive impact on everybody. He has less pressure on him, and the Swallows don't have a black hole in the middle of the order. I like Iihara, he just shouldn't be sniffing the third position in the batting order. Who should then? Here's what I would like the lineup to be:

1. Norichika Aoki, CF- Great table setter. I'd like to see him run more, maybe when his hamstring is 100% we will see that. He's also been taking a lot of meaty pitches, don't know if that is a result of batting leadoff or whether he's just not seeing the ball.

2. Hiroyasu Tanaka, 2B - He's been amazing in this position. His bunting has been flawless and he's hitting .340.

 Hit the jump for the rest.

Hanshin Tigers-4 Yakult Swallows-1

This guy...sucks.
Well the unbeaten run is over. And I'm going to blame it on this ^ guy. Does he deserve it? Probably not. But there is very little he could have done worse, save crashing into Aoki in center and sending him to the hospital. Another hitless day, another double play that ended a potential rally, there's nothing that this guy can't do, as long as it hurts the team. I had to lead the recap somehow, and venting about Yasushi Iihara seemed appropriate enough.

4.28.2011

Series Preview: Hanshin Tigers 4/29-5/1

Koshien legend Yoshinori Sato...too bad he's not pitching this series.
Three times we took the field against the Yomiuri Giants. Three times we walked off as the victors. Three times at roughly 8am (when the games end here on the east coast) I was too excited to go back to sleep. Don't ask me if we're actually this good, because I'm not prepared to answer. I can say it's been pretty damn fun.

The fun continues at 5am EST against another high profile NPB team, the Hanshin Tigers. I marked these two series as a big test for us, and halfway through, we've passed with flying colors. Hanshin has not played particularly well this year, but they are always dangerous. Their bats are going to wake up at some point, and with the bottom of our rotation set to take the hill in the series, it could very well happen in the next few games. Takahiro Arai and Shunsuke are carrying their offense with amazing batting averages, but every other player is having a miserable time at the plate. Their pitching, while nothing to write home about, has not been atrocious. The Tigers as a team, have been very average to this point in the season. They are ranked 3rd in pitching and 4th in the CL in pitching and hitting, respectively.

The importance of playing in Koshien cannot be overestimated. It will be the first hostile environment that the Swallows play in this year, and it will be interesting to see how they react.

3 Players to watch:

Shunsuke Fujikawa, CF: The 24 year old who goes by "Shunsuke" is hitting .381 so far. He is also known for being caught stealing while the ancient artifact Tomoaki Kanemoto was at the plate. Since Kanemoto wasn't credited with an at-bat and he didn't take the field, his consecutive games streak was broken. I was never a fan of Kanemoto so I like Shunsuke by default.

Arai, 3B: Hitting .353 and having a さよなら hit to boot, Arai has been a bright spot on a mostly anemic offense.

Kyuji Fujikawa, CP: He only has three saves, but everyone knows and fears this man for good reason. Behind his intimidating intro music is an even more intimidating face. No but really, his fastball is actually really, really intimidating. If they get a lead late, it will be tough to come back.

The Swallows didn't miss a beat, even after the day off earlier in the week. They continue to play great defense, pitch spectacularly, and get timely hit after timely hit. If they can keep this up, they will get out of Koshien holding their brooms. However, this is no place to get complacent. With a Tiger's offense that can blow up at any time, they must be especially careful. Playing on the road isn't fun either.

Prediction: Predicting 2 out of 3 last time seemed to work out pretty well so let's stick with that formula. Also, Yasushi Iihara gets a hit...? Uhh...right.


© 2011, copyright Julian Jowise

Around the NPB - 4/28/11

 Central League

Hiroshima Carp-5 Hanshin Tigers-1

-as good as the Swallows are playing, Hiroshima are still just one game back.

Chunichi Dragons-4 Yokohama Baystars-0

 Pacific League


Orix Buffaloes-2 Chiba Lotte Marines-1

 
-one of those once in a blue moon plays when Aaron Baldiris's ball is hit foul down the first base line and somehow rolls fair.

 -The Buffs finally pull out a victory on the bat of Hirotoshi Kitagawa.

 © 2011, copyright Julian Jowise

Yakult Swallows-4 Yomiuri Giants-0

His walk up music is TI's "Whatever You Like"...nuff said.
After yesterday's four and half hour marathon, today's two hour and forty minute contest seemed even shorter than it was. I have no one but Shohei Tateyama to thank. Tateyama cruised through the Giants lineup, mowing down 10.

4.27.2011

Yakult Swallows-4 Yomiuri Giants-1

It's a bomber plane, it's Timothy McVeigh, it's......Wladimir Balentien!!

Wladimir Balentien can drop bombs like a F-22 Fighter Jet. He dropped two today and the Swallows extended their unbeaten streak to 10 on the arms of some strong pitching.

Yoshinori Sato struggled early, allowing multiple runners in the first two innings. In the second, the Giants capitalized, using a squeeze play to get Hisayoshi Kamei in (give them credit for an exciting play). 1-0 Giants.

Their lead didn't last long. Kazuhiro Hatakeyama took the second pitch he saw from Tetsuya Utsumi deep to left-center for a no-doubt homer. Balentien, not to be outdone, hit an even more impressive homerun to left field. It was absolutely crushed and nearly left the park. Alex Ramirez watched it sail over his head and didn't move from his position, that's how far and fast the ball got out. 2-1 swallows.

4.26.2011

Why the NPB is Better Than the MLB vol. 2: Video Games

The blueprint of great a great baseball game.
No, I don't really think a better video game makes a league better...I do feel like reviewing the game and making it known to more American fans though! I think we can skip ahead to crowning The Show as the best MLB game. If you disagree with this presumption please make it through a season of the 2K Sports offering without having an absolutely bizarre glitch impede your progress. Moving on, Remember what you felt playing Grand Theft Auto in 3D after playing the original 2D versions? Not to say the original GTAs were bad; the new versions were just that much better. More of the same here. MLB 11 is a very good game. Enjoyable to play, presentation is unbelievably good, and it is the best baseball game with MLB players (probably a huge deal for some of you). Despite this, PYS is still the best baseball video game on the market.

You already have a PS3, and since it's region-free, you can play Japanese games on it. Before I go any further I'd like to thank Muka and Vern over at spiritstranslation.com. They translate the game so non-Japanese speakers can enjoy everything that the game has to offer. They also gave me permission to use screenshots from their site to enhance this post. More on that site later.

Around the NPB - 4/26/11

 Pacific League
 Chiba Lotte Marines-6 Orix Buffaloes-0 

       -No one on the Buffaloes is hitting above .300.

 Nippon Ham Fighters-3 Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks-2
      -Yu Darvish went 8 innings and got the win.

Rakuten Golden Eagles-2 Seibu Lions-0


-Hisashi Iwakuma with 13 K's and a complete game shutout.


Yakult Swallows-7 Yomiuri Giants-1

I do not like Shun Tohno. I didn't like his smug smile after striking out Wladimir Balentien, and I didn't like his smug smile after the ump called a ball on a borderline pitch. So when he imploded in the seventh inning, I could not help but smile. Smugly.

The game started out poorly enough. The baseball gods smote me after saying Hayato Sakamoto was a "tolerable" Giant. He smacked a 3-2 pitch into the left field seats and the Giants enjoyed a 1 run handicap from the get-go. 1-0 Giants.

4.25.2011

Why the NPB is Better Than the MLB vol. 1: The Fans/Atmosphere

courtesy of sethskim
courtesy of Boston.com

You tell me which picture makes you excited to go to a game...
Ah, the cliched controversial blog post. To quickly quell any confusion, I don't think a team of the best NPB players could beat the best players in the MLB on a consistent basis as verified by the Major League Baseball Japan All Star Series (a mouthful, I know). As evidenced by the World Baseball Classic, however, Japan is superior to every country when it comes to winning games as a nation. This is not necessarily a reflection of talent or skill, rather, it displays the importance that Japan places on the team game and the passion that they have for the sport. More on the team aspect in another post.

Fans are a special group of people. They put a great deal of effort into following their favorite team and cheering them to victory, or so goes the trite phrase. The fact is, many American fans spend half the game booing their own players. The other half is spent booing the opposing team. Unless you use the Yogi Berra method of mathematics this leaves little time to support the team and "will" them to victory. Don't get me started on other sports that display even less class within the fan base.


                                                                   You said it Wayne!

In this way aren't all fans fair weather fans? When the team wins or the player performs well, they cheer loudly and talk about how devoted they are to the team and how much it means to them that they are excelling. Observe that same fan at the game after a few losses and they are booing with all their might. I've heard all the arguments; the fans pay...

4.24.2011

Series Preview: Yomiuri Giants 4/26-4/28

You are a bad man, a very bad man. courtesy of ocregister
Tatsunori Hara and the Yomiuri Giants will meet the Yakult Swallows in Shizuoka for a three game series starting tomorrow. Hara has been quoted as saying that his favorite activities include "burning ants with magnifying glasses" and "bringing immense sadness to a large group of people." Starting tomorrow, he will try to enjoy the the latter of his favorite activites by trying to stop the Swallows 8 game unbeaten run. The Giants are fresh off of a four day break so they will be fresh and ready to go. The Swallows enjoyed a day off today before they start a series that will be a useful benchmark in determining how accurate their first place ranking is. The Giants are rested, the Swallows have momentum. Hit the jump for the analysis.


Around the NPB - 4/24/11

 Pacific League


Orix Buffaloes-5 Seibu Lions-3
 





 


  



Central League


Yokohama-3 Hanshin-1
Kanemoto popping out in the ninth. courtesy of Daily Sports Online





Yakult Swallows-8 Hiroshima Carp-3

Going....Going....Gone!!! courtesy of 47News.com
 This was the best kind of game. The Swallows took an early lead, gave it up, got it back, then pounded the Carp into submission. And for a game with 11 runs, it was over in 3 hours. Great stuff.

In the fourth, after two quick outs, the Swallows loaded the bases. Captain clutch, Shinya Miyamoto, came through with a line drive single to right field that drove in two. I have yet to see Miyamoto have  a bad at-bat this season. The 40 year old third basemen is a top notch leader and the best situational hitter I have seen in this young season. In a crucial at-bat he is the player I want at the plate. After him, my preferences lie with Kazuhiro Hatakeyama and Norichika Aoki.


4.23.2011

Yakult Swallows - 6 Hiroshima Carp - 6

Not pictured: Hiroshima player's devastated faces after blowing a five run lead.
Shun Takaichi made his first start of the season; hopefully it is his last until he learns to keep the ball down. His final line: 2 1/3 IP, 14 batters faced, 7 hits allowed, 6 ER. Flat out awful. 

The bullpen was key to the Swallows clawing back to steal a tie in this one, so not all the pitching was atrocious. While they allowed baserunners, Takehiko Oshimoto, Tony Barnette, Kenichi Matsuoka, and Chong-Yong Lim didn't let up a single run. This allowed the Swallows to stay within striking distance for the whole game.

4.22.2011

Around the NPB - 4/22/11

 Central League


Hanshin - 4  Yokohama - 3 
さよならツーベース  from Takahiro Arai.
 

Pacific League

Seibu - 0 Orix - 2
Chan Ho Park pitched 7 scoreless innings.


Nippon Ham - 4 Rakuten - 3
9th inning rally by the Fighters to move into first place in the Pacific League.






© 2011, copyright Julian Jowise

Japanese Baseball Terms Glossary

To better express the Japanese game, I will use basic Japanese baseball terms from time to time. 


Is this necessary? Absolutely.

Many of the terms I list here are used exclusively in the Japanese broadcasts and as you see from the translations, they make perfect sense. I will give a literal translation followed by a description. Here goes:

ゴロ - "roll on the ground" - Any ground ball.

ファインプレイ - "fine play" - Great play in the field.

かっ飛ばせ(かっとばせ) - "send it flying" - A phrase used in conjunction with a player's         name in almost every cheer.

タイムリ - "timely" - Any RBI hit is called a timely hit.

空振り(からぶり)- "empty swing" - Swing and a miss. Used in conjunction with 空振り三 (からぶりさんしん), which is to strike out swinging.

インコース - "in-course" - A pitch on the inside part of the plate.

アウトコース - "out-course" - A pitch on the outside part of the plate.

ゲットツー - "get two" - Double play. 

さよなら - "goodbye" - Any walk-off is described by saying さよなら followed by the event (さよならhomerun).

ピンチ - "pinch" - This is the Japanese version of a jam.

ストレート - "straight" - A fastball, the pitcher's most basic pitch.

more after the jump

Yakult Swallows-5 Hiroshima Carp-0

Don't look now but the Swallows are a half-game out of first and their pitchers have combined to throw 30 straight scoreless innings. In fact, the three straight shutouts that they have thrown is a franchise first.

The star of the game was clearly Hitoshi Yamamoto, the 22 year old pitcher who displayed some nasty pitches on his way to 7.0 innings pitched, 2 hits allowed, and 6 strikeouts, along with 2 walks. The eight and ninth inning were a breeze as Kenichi Matsuoka pitched a 1-2-3 eighth and Lim Chang-Yong needed only 10 pitches to strike out the side in a performance that made us forget his blown save against Yokohama 2 series ago.

Yamamoto is vying for a spot in the rotation. photo courtesy of Mainichijp

The Plan

 I have delusions of grandeur for this blog. I envision waking up and seeing thousands of hits on what started out as a modest student-run baseball blog. As far off the mark as my vision may be, I do hope that this blog can be a way for me to express my adulation of Japanese baseball and namely, the Swallows.

I intend to write:
1. post-game recaps for every game featuring video highlights.
2. series previews, and occasionally game previews.
3. "Around the League" segments which feature news and notes from around the NPB.
4. opinion pieces on the sport in general.
5. whatever else comes to my mind.

A little about myself:
Full disclosure, my reasons for creating this blog are not entirely altruistic. I am a student at the University of Miami and as the internship and job search proceeds, I find that writing samples are often advantageous.

I am half-Japanese; my mom is from Osaka (my favorite Pacific League team is the Orix Buffaloes for this reason). I have been to Japan twice, and have attended three baseball games during my time there. Immediately taken by the atmosphere and quality of play, I have continued my passion for the Japanese game stateside.

The games are generally from 1 a.m. or 5 a.m. depending on whether it's a day or night game. Staying up late, or waking up early, are not easy to fit into my busy class schedule, however, entirely necessary. Living in Japan time is no easy task, and I often find myself jet-lagged throughout the day, notably in the middle of long lecture classes. You are the benefactor of my tumbling grades.

© 2011, copyright Julian Jowise

Realtime Comments