Sunday, April 22, 2007

Strange Week for Tokyo Swallows

Yokohama Baystars Series

The first two games of the week (both versus the Yokohama Baystars) were rained out. It wasn't until Thursday that a pitch finally got thrown at Jingu stadium.

Ishii, Tokyo's veteran starter, only plunked one guy that evening, but that plunking was representative of his control during the less than four outs that he was allowed to stay in the game (he gave up eight earned runs and three walks during that time).

The game was virtually over by that point, but the fun didn't start until the top of the 7th inning (pitching his 14th season for Tokyo is Masataka Endou).

The clip below does a good job of showing what transpired with the score 10 - 0 in Yokohama's favor...

I don't know whether or not the two beanings were intentional. I will say that the second one probably was not intentional because Murata ducked into it. He's lucky it didn't hit him in the neck.

One at least slightly credible argument that the plunkings were on purpose is the fact that three Tokyo Swallows players (all of them foreign) were clocked prior to the fracas recorded above. Ramirez was drilled in the first inning, Guiel got plugged in the third, and Riggs took one for the team in the fourth. I'm not saying that Endou's back-to-back "dead-balls" were retaliatory in nature, but Furuta did seem kind of miffed that Yokohama's shortstop, Ishii, stole second base on the pitch immediately before the one that Uchikawa took square in the back.

It's also possible that player-manager Furuta (Tokyo's catcher), whose potty-mouth allegedly got him tossed, took a page out of Hiroshima manager Marty Brown's book by getting himself sent off ("inspire the troops" line of thinking). Play did improve during the just-concluded series against the Chunichi Dragons. However, Furuta has a long way to go before he is considered to be in the same company as Brown. Marty sure knows how to start some drama!

Chunichi Dragons Series

The Dragons are arguably the best team in the Central league this year, and even with ace Kawakami on the injured reserve list, they still have a bullpen full of reliable starters and closers.

The first game of the series on Friday night turned out to be a pitcher's duel between Tokyo's Seth Greisinger and Chunichi's Kenta Asakura (1-2). Greisinger (3-1), in his fourth start of the season, pitched a complete game shutout (9 strikeouts, no walks) while giving up only four hits.

During the second game on Saturday, well... let's just say that Fujii (2-2; 5.66 era) and Takai (0-1; 11.57 era) better get their acts together or they're going to be on the farm team again soon. Final score: Chunichi 16 - Tokyo 7.

Tonight's game looked a little bit better for the home team, although the start was a bit rocky. Rookie fireballer Tatsuyoshi Masubuchi got rocked early on, but settled down a bit after that in being gifted with the "no-decision". Endou (the same pitcher featured in the above clip) earned the win with only 16 pitches (he worked the sixth inning).

Guiel finally homered, and the lineup featured a couple of wise moves on Furuta's part. With Aoki's slugging percentage and batting average (not to mention his OBP) being what they are (stratospheric), it was kind of ridiculous to keep him in the leadoff slot. Riggs took the day off, and Aoki took the vacant number three position in the batting order.

Iihara filled in at leadoff, and Miyamoto, who is hitting .316 right now, got bumped up to the number two slot. The result was a two-out rally, seven hit, six run sixth inning that put the game out of reach.

Final score: Chunichi 6 - Tokyo 10.

Series: Chunichi 1 - Tokyo 2.

Strange, strange week.

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