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Hanshin Tigers 6 Yakult Swallows 1 (Koshien)

1st September 2009

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Hanshin match reports are back! Read on to find out about our opening game in September 2009…

Line Up: Akahoshi, Hirano, Toritani, Kanemoto, Arai, Brazelle, Sakurai, Yanoh, Andoh

Battery: Andoh -> Kanemura -> Egusa -> Atchison -> Abe -> Fujikawa  / Yanoh

Preview: August was a winning month- 14 wins and 12 defeats in the 死の道, so-called as Tigers play away from Koshien while the summer High School Baseball tournament (the most popular amateur baseball tournament in the world) takes place. August was a month of upheaval for me as well as the Tigers, but now things are settling down, September has begun, and the occasional match report will return! I managed to see Tigers beat Kyojin 3-1 the other day- Tigers have now won the last four series against the Giants, and also won the last 5 mini-series since the middle of August. This series against the Swallows is crucial- we’re 5 games behind them, so have a very realistic chance of making the playoffs if we can get it together.

Match Report: Things began well for Hanshin- Toritani hitting a home run down the middle in the bottom of the first. In the fourth the lead was widened- Kanemoto, after hitting the eventual winner against Kyojin on sunday, continued his resurgence with a 2-run homer, before Yano drove in another with a base hit. In the sixth, with no outs and runners on 1st and 3rd, sharp fielding meant Hanshin got the double play with only one runner home, before the third out was eventually taken: 4-1. Nevermind- in the bottom of the sixth, Arai hit a thunderous drive down the centre, and 41-year old Aniki powered home from first base- good running, and 5-1. Katsuragi grounded out, but Yano walked, and before I knew it Hanshin had another run- with two outs, pinch hitter Hiyama got the base hit to send Arai home. 6-1! For the Swallows seventh, Mayumi brought in Kanemura, and the eighth saw Egusa take the mound. Egusa throws a lot of balls- despite this I’m  a big fan, thanks to his smiley face and cheerful disposition. It just wasn’t working though, so Kubo (pitching coach) came out to have a quiet word (I also liked the encouragement Brazelle gave Egusa on the mound- what a great guy, everything we were hoping Mench was going to be and more!). After the talk though he got the second out, then, at two-three- walked another! That was enough for Mayumi and Kubo- Egusa was pulled, to be replaced by stalwart Atchison, who’s really come into his own this season. With bases loaded and two outs, Atchison did the business. After an uneventful Tigers’ eighth, it was the Swallows ninth, and Abe. It started with a walk- and then another! Kubo was not a happy bunny, and Abe’s day was over- que a camera cut to Abe and Egusa sitting forlornly together in the dugout, while Fujikawa’s song “Every Little Thing Every Precious Thing” rang out in the background. If you want something done…ask Kyuji. With runners on 1st and 2nd and no outs, Japan’s number one closer did the business! One, two, three, and victory!

I’m not sure what to make on the pitching shenanigans at the end- we used six pitchers in a game where we were never really troubled, with both Atchison and Fujikawa being called on unnecessarily when the original relief should have done the business. Even the decision to bring on Egusa in the first place was a little strange, given our ascendency. Still, I don’t think Mayumi can be blamed entirely. Offensively it was a good performance- Aniki’s resurgence continues.

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