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.


The Giants have had an up-and-down season thus far. After two convincing wins versus our Swallows, they lost two and tied one in Hiroshima, who didn't really amaze me in our recent series. They then went down to Koshien against their rivals, and were able to win two out of three with the largest margin in all three games being two. Now we meet again to see how far we've come since that first series.


3 Players to Watch: 
Hisayoshi Chono, OF: He was actually drafted by two other teams but refused to play for anyone other than the Giants. Shows you what kind of a guy he is. Take away his characer flaws and he's actually a pretty decent player. This year he is batting .419 with 8 RBI through 8 games.

Alex Ramirez, OF: Our old friend Alex. He's having another Ramirez-esque year so far, hitting .308 with 3 homers and 9 RBI.

Hayato Sakamoto, SS: My bias towards young, top of the order shortstops has always made him the most tolerable player on the Giants for me. He's hitting .324 so far.

The way the Swallows started the season, we were all wondering where the "dark horse" team predictions came from. They lost two to the Giants and one to Yokohama before blowing a lead to settle for a tie in their second game. After this they rattled off 5 straight wins and have yet to be defeated. They had some close calls, notably being down to their final two outs before Wladimir Balentien bailed them out with a homer. Their streak can be attributed to their hitting. They lead the CL with a .280 team batting average. Of the top 10 batting average leaders in the CL, half are Swallows. Combined with some good, if inconsistent, starting pitching, the Swallows are deserving of their first place standing. My favorite games were the back-to-back complete game shutouts by Yoshinori Sato and Shohei Tateyama. They have a lot of momentum and it will be interesting to see what effect, if any, this one day break will have on their hot hitting.

3 Players to Watch:

1. Shinya Miyamoto, 3B: He leads the CL in hitting and has come up with clutch hit after clutch hit. He has also provided stellar defense at the hot corner.

2. Balentien, OF: Of his three homeruns, two have decided the outcome of the game. Expect him to move up in the order sooner than later.

3. Kazuhiro Hatakeyama, 1B: His presence at the plate is outstanding. He has played like a real middle of the lineup threat up to now. He swings hard but he also waits for his pitch and sports a great eye. His 5 homers are pretty good too.

Prediction: The Swallows can't be expected to play as well as they have all season. However, it looks like Norichika Aoki is starting to get going again and that is a huge boost to an already potent offense (never thought I'd say that adjective in relation to the offense). The fact that we have Masanori Ishikawa, Sato, and Tateyama taking the mound for us, I think we fare pretty well. The players will be plenty motivated as well, after being pretty awful in their first two games against their rivals. Swallows take 2 of 3.

Hopefully we see some of this to top it off. That slow charge to the mound is the definition of swag.

© 2011, copyright Julian Jowise

2 comments:

  1. Welcome to the yakyu blogosphere. It's great that people around the globe continue to write about NPB (and the Tokyo Swallows in particular). Best of luck to you moving forward!

    Just a quick heads up about the upcoming 'home' series versus Yomiuri--it's not going to be played at Jingu. It will take place in Shizuoka instead. The switch is part of the ongoing post-quake energy conservation efforts in the Kanto Region of Japan.

    I'm not entirely sure how having a night game in Shizuoka saves energy, but that's what was decided. The only advantage the birds will enjoy is batting in the bottom of every inning.

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  2. @Christopher Pellegrini Ah, thanks for the heads up, I fixed it in the post. I read your Tsubamegun blog and hopefully we can collaborate in the future through and interview on the team's affairs or something of the sort.

    Thanks again!

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