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Evil Yomiuri vs Hanshin, Game 1 (Tokyo Dome)

15th September 2009

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Kyojin are the only Japanese team I hate, and my feelings for them were only confirmed by reading Whitings’ You Gotta Have Wa, exposing them as it did in all their establishment, conservative, machine-like “glory”. Anyway, today we take them on at Tokyo Dome, having been moved up to 3rd place in the league as much (if not more) by successive Swallows’ failures than by our own successes (although we did manage to beat Yokohama 2-1 on sunday).

Line Up: Nohara, Hirano, Toritani, Kanemoto, Arai, Lin, Sekimoto, Yanoh, Andoh

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

Preview: Nohara replaces the injured Akahoshi, with Lin getting a starters place too. Yanoh has the gloves, and Andoh is on the pitchers mound. Andoh is 3.49 with an 8-9 win-loss record.

Match Report: In cautious early stages, Kyojin got the first run, the scoring hit coming from Ogasawara in the third. At the top of the forth though Hanshin were back on level terms- Toritani hit a two-baser, before Aniki was walked. Arai then hit to second, and Toritani bombed round, just making it home before Abe could tag him (although Kyojin fans might argue differently) for 1-1. The bottom of the forth saw Kyojin go back into the lead though- 2-1. Hanshin then took the lead for the first time in this yo-yo game in the sixth- first a magnificent left field homer from Toritani, then Kanemoto and Arai getting hits and on base, before Sekimoto drove in the runner for a 3-2 lead. It didn’t take Kyojin long to get back on level terms though- Abe of all people (I don’t like Abe at all) getting a left field homer off Andoh for 3-3. in the bottom of the sixth.

The seventh started with Yano getting a hit to first. Asai then sacrifice bunted to get him to second, a particuarly Japanese play that I don’t really like. Anyway, next up was pinch hitter Hiyama- Nohara had been hitless in three innings at bat, so this made sense. Hiyama struck out though, followed by Hirano grounding out for a scoreless seventh. For the Giants seventh Atchison appeared, and dealt with the enemy with relative ease. Que Tigers eighth! With Toritani, Kanemoto and Arai up, my hopes were high. First up Toritani- he’s been on form recently, but sadly this time grounded out to second. Next, Kanemoto, and a hit to right field! With Arai struck out, Aniki stole to second, and pinch hitter Sakurai (in for Lin) was up. However he harmlessly flew out. Giants eighth passed without incident, and we were into the Tigers ninth! First up, Sekimoto- out. Next, Yano- out. And then, Asai- out. And so to the Giants ninth- and the pitcher is…Egusa! Mayumi obviously thinking about the encho-sen. At one out, pinch hitter Kimura got a hit, and a sayonara rannaa was on first base. Next up- scary Sakamoto, batting at 0.307. But….a double play!! Three out, and we are into extra time a.k.a The Encho-Sen

So, to the Tiger’s tenth– horseface Kroon the pitcher. Katsuragi, first at plate, struck out. Next Hiyama- and out again! *Frown* Next up today’s homerun hitter, Takashi Toritani- and a hit to get on base! Still, with two out surely nothing can come of this. And no, sadly it can’t- Aniki flies out, to end the innings. So- Kyojin’s tenth– and Fujikawa is pitching. By the way, over in Yokohama the Baystars have got a tying run against the Swallows! 5-5 in that one, 3-3 here and 3-3 between the Dragons and the Carp- all Ce-League games poised on a knife edge today. Anyway, back to Tokyo Dome- with two out, Fujikawa is now facing Ramirez, who has a good record against our Kyuji. Its turning into an epic contest- Ramirez parrying the lightning fast balls of Kyuji, with two strikes on the board. But a right fly ball is caught- and its three out!

The war of attrition continues- Tiger’s eleventh. Arai is up first- he hits to Sakamoto, but he fumbles picking up the ball, and Arai is on base! Next- Yamato, who hits a very nice bunt against Kroon’s pitch to get Arai to second. Now Sekimoto- and he’s out, but Arai is on third! One more hit and we have the lead…next is Yano…and he hits a beautiful fly into the right stand for a two run HOME RUN!!! Tigers have the lead 5-3!! Tigers get another hit, and suddenly Fujikawa is in the batters box! He’s struck out, and the Tigers have the chance to close out a great victory in Kyojin’s eleventh. And word is filtering through from Yokohama- the Baystars have won it in the ninth, 6-5, against the Swallows! Brilliant news for the Tigers, strengthening their grip on third. Here in Tokyo though its not over yet- Kyojin have a runner on first, no outs. Oh no!!! And another! No out, runners on 1st and 2nd. Abe is up…a home run would win it for Kyojin…and a great hit by Abe, but its caught in the air by Yano, and thrown to second for two out!!! Lucky/brilliant there from the Tigers. 2 out runner on first…ball…foul…and another foul…two strikes then…ball….2-2….and strike out!! TIGERS WIN IT 5-3 IN THE ELEVENTH!!!

A brilliantly entertaining game, with hits, home runs, and quality pitching on both sides. Tigers shaded it on hits, and ultimately deserved the victory- Fujikawa besting Kroon in a battle of the closers. With the Carp on the verge of defeat, and the Swallows definitely losing, we’re really entrenching ourselves in that third place playoff spot, meaning there’ll be some excellent post-season fun to look forward to. Still, the regular seasons not over yet- and we have two more games against the Giants to go. I’ll be back tomorrow!

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