4.22.2011

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



Offensively, it was a rerun of the last game against Chunichi. There were plenty of ducks on the pond, but the weak-hitting pitched Yamamoto always ended up being the batter with two outs. This is a testament to the fine hitting displayed by the bottom of the order, however, it wasn't producing any runs for us. Shingo Kawabata was 3-5 with a double and Ryohei Kawamoto was 2-4 with a walk. In the 6th inning, Kazuhiro Hatakeyama had seen enough of the lack of timely hitting and hit a bomb in an identical spot to the Wladimir Balentien hit last game.

1-0 Swallows
In the ninth inning, after scoring once and getting the bases loaded, Shinya Miyamoto ended any uncertainty about the outcome by getting a timely hit to right field, scoring two runs. Another run followed and the Swallows are flying high, winning their last 5 games.

Heroes:
       Pitching-Hitoshi Yamamoto. If he can continue this performance then this rotation will be fun to watch later in the year (as if it isn't already). Honorable mention goes to Lim for a dominating 9th inning.
       Hitting-Kazuhiro Hatakeyama. Without a defensive meltdown in the ninth, this would have been the only run that the Swallows scored. He also singled and walked in addition to his homer. Honorable mention goes to Miyamoto for his 9th inning 2-out 2-run single. The captain constantly comes up with big hits.

Goats:
       Wladimir Balentien's base-running blunder was enough to make you shake your head and his "attempt" to get back to the base added to the comedy routine on display by our slugging gaijin. After getting caught halfway between second and third on a failed bunt, he momentarily lost his whereabouts and thought he was on his way to the plate scoring the winning run as he proceeded to truck the covering second basemen.
 
The Swallows face the Carp again tonight at 2:00 p.m. JPT (1:00 a.m. EST).


 Notes: Norichika Aoki went 0-5 today and is hit-less in his last few games. He has seen his average drop from .450 to the mid .200s. I think this is officially a slump. To win five games in a row with Aoki struggling is certainly good news, but he must pick his production up. Kazuki Fukuchi stole another base today giving him two in two games. That man is FAST! Not many 35 year olds can run like him.


© 2011, copyright Julian Jowise

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