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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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