April 23rd 2009 (Nagoya Dome)
Chunichi Dragons 1 Hanshin Tigers 4
Now That’s A Logo
The third game of the series against Chunichi, of which Hanshin Tigers had lost the first two, was won by a Toritani three-run homer in overtime. This four hour and 35 minute marathon made good viewing, despite the low scoring throughout.
Problems aplenty continue to plague Mayumi and the Hanshin Tigers, but at least they can breath a sigh of relief from having secured a victory here. In a game where the Dragons edged the Tigers on hits, Hanshin rode their luck and emerged victorious after a calamitous display by Chuichi closer Payano. In the early stages Hanshin looked dispirited- the first to fifth innings saw nothing offensively, while Ando did a good job keeping the Tigers in it. In the sixth Hanshin had a good chance- Akahoshi hit and Sekimoto was walked to leave runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs. Yet following that, Toritani and Kanemoto flew out, and Arai was grounded- it looked like it really wasn’t going to be our day. Hanshin were rescued in the eigth when pinch hitter Hiyama hit a solo home run to tie the scores. Enter overtime, and both Hanshin and Chunichi had chances to win the game. The eleventh saw Fujikawa in an epic battle to strike out Morino- compelling viewing. Then to the twelth- Kano hit and was bunted to second, and Akahoshi was walked. With Morino throwing 1 strike and 5 balls in his opening salvos, Sekimoto still chose to strike at a pitch and was grounded out at third- bad decision making. Then came Toritani though, and with the count at 1-1 and two out he hit a sweet 3 run homer into right field to effectively win the game for the Tigers.
This was an important victory in a game that could have gone either way, yet the problems still persist. I’ll save a thorough round up till the end of the month, but to highlight some issues:
1. Mench – has now been moved down to the farm team, “due to fatigue and kidney problems” according to Chistopher at JapaneseBaseball.com, but I’m sure equally because 0.167 and his fielding have been nowhere near good enough.
2. Pitchers and Catchers- as Christopher at JB.com also pointed out, Mayumi is showing poor decision making in his handling of the defense, particularly in when to bring in the relief, who to start (Fukuhara needs to be dropped) and who to pair together (Okazaki was disastrous in the second game of the Chunichi series apparently, and Mayumi insists on pairing him with Kubo).
3. Arai- what the hell has happened to Arai? He’s at 0.203 and got no hits in this game despite 5 at-bats. I really don’t know whats going on there.
4. Other Offensive Problems- having said that,a few players aren’t looking right. Akahoshi is only at 0.237, albeit with his healthy number of steals. Kanemoto and Toritani both look strong, and I think the decision to move Sekimoto back to second was good- he was moved down to 6th after his home run in the first series against Yakult, yet really he does a good job at 2nd. Personally I’m not too sure about Hirano. With Mench we need to find something for the end of the batting order- bring in Lin?
I wanted to add, for the record, that while the overall hits count was 10-9 Chunichi, the hit count in overtime was 6-3 Tigers. That is, while Tigers put in a poor offensive performance in the first 9, they did “step up” in overtime- it wasn’t just poor pitching from Payano.