A quick start paid off for the Yomiuri Giants on Friday night at Tokyo Dome as Yoshinobu Takahashi and Yoshiyuki Kamei led off the game with back-to-back home runs, giving former Swallows ace Seth Greisinger all the run support he would need in a 2-1 win over Yakult.
Right-hander Greisinger (1-1) got his first win in a Giants' uniform, allowing just one run on eight hits in seven innings. Greisinger, who won 16 games for the Swallows last season, struck out seven and walked one batter.
"It feels great," said Greisinger. "I'm very happy to get my first win with the Giants. Hopefully this is a good start to the series for us and we'll take all three (from the Swallows), since they took all three last time. Hopefully this will carry over."
Reliever Kiyoshi Toyoda worked a hitless eighth inning for Yomiuri before manager Tatsunori Hara called on closer Marc Kroon in the ninth. He set down the side in Kroonological order--1-2-3--for his third save of the season. He threw just six pitches, getting Adam Riggs to fly out to second, striking out Aaron Guiel and getting Shinya Miyamoto to ground out to end it.
"Toyoda was great tonight and Greisinger pitched a heck of a game and I was just fortunate enough to close it out for our team," said an emotional Kroon, who also thanked the fans for their support after the recent death of his grandmother.
"This was a great win for us because the Swallows are pretty hot right now," Kroon added. "I'm just happy to be a part of it."
Yakult starter Kyohei Muranaka (1-1) took the loss. The lefty worked six innings of four-hit ball, allowing the two runs on solo homers while striking out six. Four relievers limited the Giants to just two more hits the rest of the way and the Swallows out-hit Yomiuri 8-6 on the evening.
Giants leadoff hitter Takahashi started the game off with a bang when he deposited a Muranaka delivery into the seats in right for his Central League-leading fifth home run of the season.
Kamei followed that with a tater of his own, blasting a solo job over the wall in right-center. Michihiro Ogasawara then singled but the next hit off Muranaka would not come until Kamei singled in the sixth. Kamei had three hits with a home run, a single and a double.
After Yakult's Hiroyasu Tanaka and Norichika Aoki hit consecutive singles in the top of the third, Riggs singled to score Tanaka to make it 2-1.
Tanaka was 3-for-4 on the night with a run scored, boosting his batting average to .442. He also got picked off at first base by Greisinger after singling in the fifth.
Swallows center fielder Aoki robbed Takahashi of an extra-base hit in the bottom of the third, making a diving catch on a ball lined into the gap in right-center.
The result boosted Yomiuri's record to 4-7-1, while the Swallows fell to 6-5.
"I'd rate Greisinger's pitching tonight about seven on a scale of 10," said Hara. "It was good enough to win and get his first victory for us, so I'm very satisfied with his performance tonight."
Elsewhere, Tomoaki Kanemoto saw his hitless streak stretch to 10 at bats with an 0-for-4 performance in the Hanshin Tigers' 2-1 loss to the Yokohama BayStars.
Kanemoto remains one hit shy of the 2,000 mark.
In the other Central League encounter, the Chunichi Dragons defeated the Hiroshima Carp 7-3.
(IHT/Asahi: April 12,2008)