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Hanshin Tigers 4 Saitama Seibu Lions 6

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Misfiring Mench is history- enter Gaijin Hitter Number Two- Craig  Brazelle.  Brazelle’s history can be found on Wikipedia- in short, he’s had two brief spells in the MLB, with the New York Mets and the Kansas City Royals. Importantly he’s played in Japan before- for tonight’s opponents, the Saitama Seibu Lions where he hit a very impressive 87 RBI’s and 27 home runs in 2008. This is what really matters- proven ability to succeed in the Japanese leagues, where Mench was an unknown quantity. Hopefully he’ll prove to be a useful acquisition.

Anyway, onto today’s game against the Saitama Seibu Lions, last seasons Pacific League winners, and the winners of the Nippon Series, which pitted them against the Yomiuri Giants (they won 4 games to 3 in a best of 7).

Yesterday we beat them 4-1- they outhit us, but we profitted from a pitching meltdown in the seventh, where we gained all four of our runs. Atchison and Fujikawa closed- Shimoyanagi pitched.

Tonight it’s Andoh pitching, but no Brazelle yet. Katsuragi is in, Sakurai is out.

The two teams traded home runs at the start of the game- Hanshin leading 2-0 after the first after a Kanemoto homer, and Seibu going into the lead in the second with a 3-run HR of their own. In the third Hanshin wasted a great chance to go into the lead- Akahoshi hit a two-baser, and Sekimoto, Kanemoto and Katsuragi were all walked! But Toritani, Arai and Hirano all failed to make the best of their chances- Toritani in particular needs a good clip around the ear, his performances are not up to scratch. Still, we got a run from a  wild pitch, and it was 3-3. In the sixth Egusa pitched poorly, and Seibu took the lead once again- 5-3.  Hanshin’s sixth saw runners on 1st and 3rd with one out. A Kanoh ground out brought the runner on third home, and it was 5-4. Seibu’s seventh saw Atchison in for Egusa- three outs with no problems. Hanshin’s seventh saw nothing, and Seibu’s eighth was easily seen off by Williams. Then came Hanshin’s eighth- the big chance.

The eighth was incredibly frustrating- Kanemoto and Arai were BOTH walked, Katsuragi flew out, then Hirano hit to set up a manrui- bases loaded- chance. Then came Kanoh- who hit short and Hanshin were double-played, failing to take an incredibly good chance to draw the game. Watanabe came in to pitch the ninth, as there was no need for Fujikawa- or so I though. Kuriyama ended up getting a three-base hit, and extended the Lions’ lead to 6-4! Everything was going pear-shaped. Lin came in for the Tigers’ ninth as a pinch hitter- and grounded out. Akahoshi next up- and out.Then, finally, Sekimoto- three out, game over.

A night of missed opportunities, of wasted chances, from an offense and a defense that both weren’t quite up to the job in a game that we could have easily won. The batting simply wasn’t good enough- when gifted three walks in the third, three of our top batters couldn’t even muster a hit. Then again in the eighth- two walks and a hit, but Kanoh was double-played! In defense Andoh was ok, but Egusa’s poor innings put us up against it. Still, unlike the game two days ago, this was a failure of the offence not the defence.

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