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Evil Yomiuri vs Hanshin, Game 2 (Tokyo Dome)

16th September 2009

A fantastic victory yesterday, with everything working as it should. The match really got my spirits up about a Tigers side that are actually looking pretty sharp for the first time this season, despite missing two of our starters (Akahoshi and Brazell). Today is game two, and our SP is Iwata. Let’s have a look at some SP stats for our lead off guys this season:

Shimoyanagi is 8-8 with a 3.44 EPA

Andoh is 8-9 with 3.53

Nohmi is 10-8 with 2.61

Kubo is 7-7 with a 3.56

Iwata is 5-3 with 2.37

As can be seen, Iwata is really our best performing starter, despite coming back into the team late in the season (he’s played 11 games, pitching 79 innings), and he’s won his last three starts. The Giants are using Tohno, who is 2.94 with a 7-7 record. It promises to be another tight game…

Line Up: Asai, Hirano, Toritani, Kanemoto, Arai, Lin, Sekimoto, Kanoh, Iwata

Battery: Iwata -> Tsutsui -> Egusa -> Atchison -> Fujikawa / Kanoh

Preview: As already discussed, Iwata takes the mound with an impressive 2.37 EPA from his 11 starts, and the alternating catcher position goes to Kanoh.

Match Report: Things started fast in this one, despite my thinking that it might be a bit of a pitchers duel. With the count at 1-3, first batter for the Tigers Asai hit a home run into the right stand! This was followed by a hit from Hirano, who, through a ground out and a sacrifice fly from Toritani and Kanemoto respectively, got round to make it 2-0. The Giants came right back in the bottom of the first, with three hits (Sakamoto, Ramirez, Abe) and two walks giving them three runs and a 3-2 lead. The second passed without incident after this high paced start. In the third, Hanshin had a chance- with runners on 1st and 2nd, Arai hit to centre, but Asai on second couldn’t make it round to home, and was out at home plate. Interestingly Kyojin had already changed pitchers- Tohno had thrown three dead balls! Que Kimura’s entrance. In Kyojin’s third a deep hit to left field from Nakai put them two more ahead- a 5-2 lead from a faltering Iwata (my fault for building him up in the preview). Tigers third was a weak, toothless reply to this, and all did not look good. The fourth saw no action. In the fifth, a chance developed- with one out, there were runners on 1st and 2nd and Toritani was up to bat. Giants changed pitcher to Fujita. Fujita pitched…and Toritani hit a three-run home run to left field!!! Yes!!! The game was tied at 5-5. Wow, these Hanshin-Kyojin encounters always have a way of turning into the most exciting games. Toritani really is on a streak at the moment- he’s got hits in the last four games, and home runs in two games in a row now! The camera zooms in on Kyojin kantoku Hara’s face, a picture of irritation- brilliant. The next outs are got, and its Kyojin’s fifth. And…oh no! Yet again Kyojin reply immediately- a home-run from Tani into the right stand for 6-5. Bugger. Iwata is not having a good day, despite my promo for him (yes, I’m to blame, I know). At this stage, by the way, Hiroshima and Yakult are both winning. Anyway, enter the sixth– and Kyojin move onto their fourth pitcher, Nomaguchi! Straight away, Sekimoto hits a beautiful hit that just falls short of a home run, and ends up being a single. Kanoh sacrifice bunts to get Sekimoto to second. Hiyama up- note, Iwata has pitched 100 balls in the first five innings, and Mayumi has decided to change him- a wise move. Anyway, Hiyama strikes out. Now, Asai…and he hits to deep centre!! Sekimoto is round, for 6-6, and Asai gets to third base. Wow!! What a game this is turning out to be! Hirano up, with runner on third- but he flies out. So now to the Giants sixth, with the score at 6 all. Maymi has opted for Tsutsui, a middling relief pitcher. He does his job very well, getting the outs with ease.

So now to the seventh! Toritani is up….he’s been on form recently and…wow!! Shinjirarenai!! Toritani gets ANOTHER home run! This time to right field- his hot streak continues! 7-6 to the Tigers. The remaining batters go without event, and its the Kyojin seventh- and Egusa is here! He deals with them with aplomb- Egusa rocks! Tigers eighth- nothing much there, and onto Kyojin’s, where Atchison takes the mound. Tani grounds out…Abe strikes out…and the pinch hitter does too, three out!! So we’re into the final innings, with the Tigers clinging onto a 1 run lead…Hirano grounds out…Toritani flies out…but Kanemoto gets on base! Sadly, Arai is struck out…and so we’re into the bottom of the ninth, the Tiger’s holding a one run lead! The tension is unbearable…this would be a fantastic victory, and I fully expect Fujikawa to appear…and he does, for the final act in this enthralling game. First, a pinch hitter- and san shin, one out! Next- Sakamoto- strike…strike…ball…and a strike!! Two out!! Ogasawara…ball…strike…ball… ball…foul…and san shin!!! Hanshin win!!!!

What a great game- for the last innings I was listening on MBS 1179 Radio Osaka, a very stressful experience- I prefer the live TV streams by far! Hanshin had 12 hits to 7 in the game, with the men of the match being Asai and Toritani– the former with two singles, a three baser and a home run, the latter with two home runs. Hirano and Arai also managed two hits apiece, and even Kanemoto got in on the act in the ninth. Defensively, we were great- despite Iwata’s shakey start, our four innings relief got 9 strike outs out of 12 plate appearances- simply excellent form. So all credit to Tsutsui, Egusa, Atchison and Fujikawa as well for their brilliant play. Tune in tomorrow for the third- and final- act!

Scoring Pattern (T-G): 2-0, 2-3, 2-5, 5-5, 5-6, 6-6, 7-6