Tuesday turned out to be unexpectedly cool in Japan’s capital city, but the Tokyo Yakult Swallows may have finally started to heat up.
Kazuhiro Hatakeyama homered for the third time in two games and starter Masanori Ishikawa did just enough as the Swallows beat the Chunichi Dragons 4-2 on a cloudy afternoon at Jingu Stadium.
After going winless in their first four games to start the year, the Swallows have now won two straight.
“We’re happy to win,” Ishikawa said. “We didn’t want to drop this game today.”
Ishikawa is a native of Akita Prefecture, while Hatakeyama hails from Iwate Prefecture, giving both special incentive to do well this year.
“We’re both from Tohoku,” Hatakeyama said. “So we really want to do our best for the people back there.”
Hatakeyama hit a deep solo homer off Chunichi’s Kenichi Nakata in the second inning and added an RBI single in the fifth in a 3-for-4 performance at the plate. The homer was his third of the year after his two-home run performance on Sunday against the Yokohama BayStars in Yakult’s first win of the season.
“He’s a good pitcher,” Hatakeyama said of Nakata. “I just put a good swing on it, that’s all. My timing was good.”
Hiroyasu Tanaka and Shinichi Takeuchi also drove in runs for Yakult.
Ishikawa (1-1) won for the first time this year, scattering five hits over six innings and allowing a pair of runs. Ishikawa struck out seven and walked four.
“I was able to use my fastball effectively,” Ishikawa said.
“I was just following Aikawa-san’s lead,” he added, referring to catcher Ryoji Aikawa.
Lim Chang Yong worked the ninth for his first save of the year.
Pregame speculation had Dragons hurler Kazuki Yoshimi, who was injured during the spring, making his first start of the year against the Swallows in the series opener. Instead, it was Nakata taking the mound for manager Hiromitsu Ochiai.
Nakata (1-1) took the loss after allowing four runs — three earned — on eight hits with a pair of strikeouts and a walk in five innings.
Second-year player Yohei Oshima was among the few bright spots at the plate for the Dragons, finishing 2-for-4 with an RBI. Chunichi hitters Masahiro Araki and Joel Guzman, on the other hand, had a horrible day that saw Araki finish 0-for-5 with four strikeouts and Guzman go 0-for-4 and strike out three times.
Carp 5, BayStars 3
Tigers 3, Tigers 2 (10)
Marines 2, Lions 0
Eagles 2, Hawks 1 (10)
Fighters 8, Buffaloes 2