Rakuten Eagles 2 Hanshin Tigers 3
Rakuten Have Lovely Ladies
Along with Yu Darvish of the Ham Fighters, “Ma-Kun”, or Tanaka Masahiro, is at the top of the pitching tables this season with an unbelievable 0.92 average, seven wins and zero defeats. Going into tonight’s game I was thus understandably pessimistic about Hanshin’s chances, especially given our weak offense recently. Yesterday we’d lost to Rakuten’s poorest pitcher in their rotation, Razner, but today we triumped- and with it inflicted Tanaka’s first defeat of the season.
I didn’t get to watch most of the game, partly due to my internet connection being infuriatingly slow, and partly due to being hooked on The Wire, which I’ve only recently discovered. Anyway, what I did see was Fujikawa’s excellent save in the ninth- a confidence booster him and the team needed. The Eagles took a one-run lead in the third, and held it throughout the first seven- it looked to all like another potential shutout for Tanaka, or at least a dominant win. Then, in the eighth, something happened. First Hiyama got a three-base hit- next, at 2-2, Katsuragi got a hit to get Hiyama round and even the scores. Then Kanoh got a three-baser, putting Hanshin into the lead. Ma-Kun’s fall from grace was complete with a hit from Hiyama- another runner round, Hanshin leading 3-1 and Tanaka substituted. We held out in the eighth but things became hairy in the ninth.
Fujikawa allowed two hits, and with runners on second and third intentionally walked Nakamura (Norihiro). This left bases loaded, with no outs and a two run lead! Fujikawa kept his nerve though in classic style, delivering a line drive out, and a deep fly catch from centre (great fielding from Akahoshi). The runner on third was home, and it was 3-2 Hanshin with one out remaining. With the count at 2-1, the batter grounded out, and Hanshin had victory!
From what I saw great credit to the pitchers- Andoh, Williams and Fujikawa- and to the tail end of our batting order, who were shut-out until the 8th (only one, yes ONE hit in the first seven innings for Hanshin!), but hit home when it counted. Still worrying signs from the front though- it seems Toritani was moved to first, where he got a hit, but still a strange choice. If Mayumi wants to shake things up a bit why not move Toritani back to, say, sixth, as Okada used him, and shift Hirano forward? Anyway, an overdue win, and an unexpected one!