Game 4, April 7th 2009 (Koshien)
Hanshin Tigers vs. Hiroshima Carp
The Greatest Game of The Season?
CARP 0 0 0 1 2 0 7 0 0 10
TIGERS 1 0 2 0 0 1 1 2 4 11
This was the greatest game of baseball in terms of excitement that I have seen. I was all… ready to write about how Hanshin’s day was ruined by a disastrous seventh innings, where Kubo and then Williams conceded an unbelievable 7 runs, and Hanshin trailed by 7 with three innings to play. Yet Hanshin’s spirit is unbreakable- after chipping away in the seventh and eighth, and with 4 runs needed to win, a succession of batting heroes hit runs to win the game for the Hanshin Tigers. It began at the start of the ninth with a great hit by Mench– who had a great day. Katsuragi also hit to get runners on 1st and 2nd. Hiyama hit out, but Akahoshi came through as usual to send Mench home and make it 10-8. Then Toritani hit– another home, 10-9! Finally Tomoaki “Aniki” Kanemoto stepped up- hit a beautiful hit into right field to send me bonkers and bring home 2 more runners, a sayonara hit to win the game 11-10!! There’s only so many adjectives to describe Tomoaki Kanemoto- after a while you run out of praise. Yet once again, he came through tonight. The tension was unbelievable- bottom of the ninth innings, 2 out, and with the count at 2-3- he’s amazing!!
All of this excitement was set up by a disastrous seventh innings, where Hanshin conceded 7 runs. With bases loaded, and the count at 2-2, Jeff Williams was outfoxed by Hiroshima star hitter Kurihara, who hit to get two home and reverse a 4-3 lead to Hanshin and make it 5-4. Williams then pitched poorly again, and- combined with crap fielding from Mench- another two were home. 7-4. After that Hanshin collapsed- Williams was retired, Fujita came on, but run after run was given away to give the Carp a 10-4 lead by the end of the innings.
The game had actually began well for the Tigers, with a two base hit by Toritani in the first earning Hanshin a one run advantage. This was expanded in the third- Toritani again batting well, with this time Kanemoto getting the two base hit to put Hanshin three up. The Carp pulled one back in the 4th, then pulled level in the next innings. With a runner of 1st, star hitter Kurihara smacked a homer into the stands to make it 3-3. Hanshin were handed a piece of fortune at the bottom of the 6th, although it was well prepared for. With Akahoshi successfully hitting to first, and being sacrifice-bunted to 2nd, Hiroshima pitcher Dooman threw a wide ball with Kanemoto at bat that was missed by the catcher, and Akahoshi-kun ran home to score.
Game Highs- Kanemoto “sayonara” hit and general performance, Toritani general performance, Mench 3 hits, Akahoshi performance, Okazaki 3 hits.
Game Lows- 7th Innings Pitching Disaster, Arai’s continued lull in form- the only player with no hits tonight.
Man of the Match- Tomoaki “Aniki” Kanemoto
1. Akahoshi (C)
2. Hirano (2)
3. Toritani (SS)
4. Kanemoto (L)
5. Arai (3)
6. Sekimoto (1)
7. Mench (R)
8. Okazaki (Ca)
9. Kubo (P)
Going Into The Game: We need a performance tonight, both in respect to batting and pitching. After two poor performances by Hanshin starters- Nohmi and Fukuhara- tonight sees the introduction of Kubo, a new signing from Bobby V’s Lotte. He’s apparently performed well in pre-season, so look for a strong performance tonight. Despite poor pitching contributing to sunday’s second defeat against the Swallows, that result was also down to a failure to score runs off bad pitches (something the Swallows managed). Thus tonight we need more in attack- more from Toritani, a strong showing from Arai, and evidence of something from the colossally underperforming Mench– the clock is ticking on his place in the team, and he needs to get over his nerves and perform. Finally, and curiously, Okazaki replaces Kanoh with the catchers gloves, presumably to spread some experience around before the return of Yano.
Tonights Opposition- The Carp
In the second of a five part series, lets preview the Opposition. The Hiroshima Carp…
Hiroshima have a solid team, including 1st up Akamatsu, 2nd batter Higashide, and number 4 star Kurihara (0.332, 23 home runs last season). They performed excellently in their first 3 games, beating the Giants twice and drawing the last game in a 12-inning marathon away at Tokyo Dome. They are serious and in-form opposition at the moment.