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Yomiuri Giants vs Hanshin Tigers Game 3 (Tokyo Dome)

17th September 2009

That’s the question on everyone’s lips going into this third and final confrontation with the Evil Tokyo Giants. After two heroic, outstanding performances and victories- yesterday’s being quite possibly the best offensive and relief performances of the season- our hopes are high. Today’s starter is Kubo, who is 7-7 with an EPA of 3.56. I hope to see Asai again, after his brilliant play yesterday. Kanoh is clearly our number one catcher now too, though I expect Yanoh will return. The Hanshin flag flies high in this picture- but can we do the unthinkable and win a three game series in Tokyo, replacing all the doubts., confusion and insecurity of the past season with confidence going into the post-season? Let’s find out…

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

Battery: Kubo -> Tsutsui ->    / Kanoh

Preview: Interesting- Kanoh stays in. Apart from that, the team is as expected. Kubo is 3.56, 7-7 while the Giants starter is Obispo, 3-1 and 2.45.

Match Report: Things didn’t start well- Ogasawara, Kamei and Tani getting hits in the first. With Sakamoto dead balled and Abe walked in the first also, this gave the Giants a 2-0 lead. Hanshin’s first saw only Toritani get a hit. The second passed without event. In the third, Kubo- yes Kubo- got a hit, before an Asai single got runners on first and second. A wild pitch meant the runners were advanced to second and third- and then Hirano was walked! Manrui– full bases- and one out. Que star hitter Toritani…the count gets to 2-3…and he’s walked! 2-1. After a mound conference, Obispo stays, for now. Next- Kanemoto…who whacks it deep into centre field, but is caught out. The gisei furai gets the runner home though, and it’s 2-2. Back in the game, although I’m a bit dissapointed Kanemoto couldn’t make more of that open pitch- he’s having a really hard time recently. Anyway, next up is Arai- grounded out. Well, we’re back in it, but we really should’ve made more of that chance- 2-1, bases loaded and one out. In the Giants third there was an immediate response- Ramirez whacked a homer to right field for 3-2. The fourth saw no action, and the Tigers fifth also passed disappointingly quickly- although so did the Giants. We’re racing through this game. Next up – Tori, Aniki, Arai. Wow- Toritani and Aniki are both struck out, and my thoughts turn to lunch. At least Arai makes base (albeit on a passed ball)- Lin is up. Up and out. Giants sixth- and oh no, while I was cooking myself some spinach and ricotta pasta, Giants have hit another home run- this time Tani- to make it 4-2. Things really aren’t going well. Still, despite the home run and Abe on base, the next two outs are got fairly quickly, before Sakamoto is walked. Hmm. Looks like this is the end of Kubo’s day- he’s not been on form, while despite Obispo’s poor third, the Giants pitcher has got 6 strikouts and allowed only 3 hits in six. The replacement is Tsutsui- and a fly out ends the innings.

So to the seventh– the Tigers with a two run deficit. First up- Sekimoto- and a hit to centre! Kanoh though hits a centre fly. Sekimoto’s pinch runner replacement tries to steal- and is out! Oh dear. Katsuragi is walked, and Asai is up- yesterdays hero. Obispo isn’t afraid of throwing a breakback pitch, and cleverly gets the strikeout. Three out. Giants seventh- Ogasawara, out- Ramirez, out- Kamei- out! Right, this is our chance- our best batters, and Obispo’s been changed for relief pitcher Yamaguichi. Tigers eighth…and pinch hitter Sakurai- aaah, short catch, one out! Next- Toritani- short ground out! Dear oh dear. Third- Kanemoto- and a hit for left field. Right- if Arai gets a home run…oh no! Terrible hit to first, and its three out. It’s really not our day. Giants eighth sees no action. Tigers ninth and…neighhh! Who’s that on the horizon? Yes, its horse face Kroon. Tigers batter is rookie Nohara- he clips one along the first base line, and dives to make it to first safe! Next- Hiyama- out, but Nohara is at second. Now- Yano! He got the homer against Kroon the other day, and is being used in the unusual position of pinch hitter here! But he is caught on a foul ball by Ogasawara, diving almost into the crowd by first base to catch it. Two out, with Nohara on third. Next- Katsuragi- who’s in a slump. The count goes to 3-2…and Katsuragi swings at a foul ball!! Aaaah, so dissapointing. Three out, and the Giants win.

Can we sweep the Giants? Answer- no. Today’s offensive performance was disappointing, with few hits all around. Defensively we were also poor- Kubo left a lot to be desired, and was the inferior starter, allowing the Giants too many hits, and two home runs. Obispo, on the other hand, played well- despite a shaky third innings, yet even then the Tigers could only get two runs off a situation which really should have yielded more. One positive was Tsutsui- yet again solid in relief. The Kyojin relief did its job- yet failure to get runs in the eighth was more down to ineffectual Tigers batting. Poor offense and poor defense combined to lose us this third game- a shame, particularly as the Swallows won today. Still, that’s baseball.