Hanshin Tigers 2 Yokohama Baystars 4 (Koshien)
12th September 2009
So- if we win today, we go up to third! Yakult lost to Chunichi in the early bat-off 4-2, meaning a win or a draw against the Baystars would get us up into the playoff places. On a side note, I’ve just finished reading Robert Whiting’s You Gotta Have Wa. Its an interesting read, fully exposing the craziness of Japanese ways (thats not a complete review, I know). I’m moving straight onto The Meaning of Ichiro, and I hope to have some more eloquent thoughts down on paper (or screen) in the near future.
Line Up: Akahoshi, Hirano, Toritani, Kanemoto, Arai, Sekimoto, Asai, Kanoh, Fukuhara
Battery: Fukuhara -> Tsutsui -> Egusa -> Kanemura -> Watanabe / Kanoh
Preview: Katsuragi is out for Asai- probably a good choice, as the former hasn’t been playing well recently. Kanoh takes the catcher’s gloves, but why oh why has Mayumi let Fukuhara start!? How many chances does that guy get- he’s currently 4.67 with a 3-9 win-loss record.
Match Report: After early optimism, the opening stages quickly turned into a nightmare. Useless Fukuhara threw ball after ball in the third, giving up three runs to the Baystars through his truly crap pitching. On the scoring hit, Akahoshi dived for the catch and ended up seriously injuring himself- he had to be piggy-backed off the field. No Akahoshi, and a 3-0 deficit, all thanks to Fukuhara and/or Mayumi. Hirano moved to centre, and Mizuta took over at second. The loss of Akahoshi is worrying- he looked seriously injured, in that he couldn’t walk at all. In the Tigers third, there was no reply. In the fourth, things got going- Sekimoto was dead balled, before Asai hit a 2 baser to left field to get runners on 2nd and 3rd. A ground out by Kanoh at least got the runner home, and it was now 3-1. Next up Fukuhara, who flew out. Still, a point on the board. For the fifth- Egusa! He did his job, and it was back to the Tigers. At exciting fifth was to ensue- first, Hirano bunted to first- he looked out, but was called safe. Then Toritani squeezed a grounder through the gap to the outfield- Hirano bombed round, and got all the way to third! Then it was Kanemoto- with 2 strikes, he hit deep to centre, almost almost getting the home run, but falling just a foot short. Hirano got home, but Toritani didn’t make it- out at home plate. Arai flew out to end the innings- now 3-2. In the sixth, Egusa was faltering- it got to 2 out manrui, and Mayumi pulled the plug- Kanemura was up. Was this a wise choice, putting a relatively inexperienced pitcher into a very sticky situation? The batter got the hit- one more home, but the second runner was out- 4-2. Now to the Tigers sixth- Yokohoma were still on their starting pitcher, while Hanshin had moved onto number four! It all went wrong- rubbish offense, and I was wondering how we were going to salvage a game we should never have had to salvage. Nothing happened in the seventh, and Watanabe- the Tigers fifth pitcher of the day, took care of the Baystars eighth. In our eighth once again we had chances- Kanemoto hit to base, Sekimoto drove one down the line to get runners on first and second, but the other hitters didn’t come through- Hiyama struck out, and Kanoh hit a short fly. Again the Baystars innings passed without major event, and we were down to our last chance. First up- Nohara? Who’s he? Hmm. Well, whoever he is, we smashed it to the outfield for a base hit! Next, Katsuragi, who struck out and looked very poor. Next, Hirano- and a double play, to end a frustratingly poor game.
All in all this was a painful game to watch. The choice of Fukuhara left us with work to do before the game even started- true to form, he left us with a three run deficit to chase. Subsequent pitching was shakey at best, which is why we used five pitchers to Yokohama’s three. Still, we could have got back into it- in almost every innings we had runners on base, and chances, but failed to get the runs we needed. Too many of our key players din’t perform- Arai and Kanoh in particular, and at key moments luck and skill both deserted us. We are obviously missing Brazell. Once again though, the Tigers’ management looks rather clueless- Mayumi needs to give the job to someone who knows baseball better than this. So we missed our chance to move into third- if the Swallows can recover their form, I’d bet on them hanging onto it.