Hiroshima Carp 3 Tigers 6 (Game 1)
(Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium)
Preview: Since the last report we’ve had the final 2 games of the Yokohama series. The first game was a 3-2 victory for the Tigers, courtesy of a Johjima sayonara home run. Uezono started, which was a surprise. The second game- a chance to clean sweep the series- was lost 3-2. Here Shimoyanagi started, lasting 5 innings and giving up 8 hits, and it looks like the relief may be used for significantly longer than last season. Pluses are the play of Sakurai, and new foreigner Murton, as well as, obviously, Johjima. Minuses are the worrying lack of hits from Kanemoto and Toritani, although I will reign in those horses as it’s still early days. Pitching wise- the relief looks good, which may be very necessary to get us out of scrapes due to our obvious deficiency in starting pitchers.
Team Lineup (in batting order):
1. Murton (C)
2. Hirano (2)
3. Toritani (SS)
4. Kanemoto (L)
5. Arai (3)
6. Johjima (Ca)
7. Brazell (1)
8. Sakurai (R)
9. Nohmi (P)
Battery: Nohmi-> Messenger -> Fujikawa / Johjima
The Game: In the first Murton hits to right field, and then a fumble from a high bunt attempt by Hirano gets him to first base. Next up Toritani and Kanemoto- who both annoyingly fly out. Arai hits to deep centre next however to get Murton home- 1-0. Johjima is caught in the infield to end the innings. Carp first saw some bad fielding by Tigers to get Carp runners into good positions. Eventually a runner was driven home to make it 1-1, but Nohmi saw off any further run scoring. Tigers second exposed the flaws in Carp pitcher Aoki- a home run from Brazell was followed by outfield hits by Murton, Hirano and Toritani to make it 3-1. Next Kanemoto – out again. Zero from two appearances for him. The Carp’s second- starts as badly as their first. But Nohmi holds it together, and at a crucial juncture Higashide grounds out. Next Hanshin’s third- and another home run from Brazell! 4-1 Hanshin! Hanshin’s fourth finally sees a hit by Kanemoto! Deep to centre field, it gets Toritani home for 5-1!! Well done Aniki- he looks very pleased, and we could be seeing a pitcher change here for the Carp. In the Carp’s fourth more mixed Nohmi pitching allows the Carp to get two back on the board- its now 5-3, and it seems this game has plenty of twists and turns left. Tigers fifth- and some good Carp pitching secures them the first scoreless Tigers innings of the game. Back to scoring in the sixth though- a Murton home run for 6-3!! No action in the Carp sixth, nor the Tigers seventh. By the way, the Carp are now on their fourth pitcher- while the Tigers are still on Nohmi. Nohmi retires the Carp batters- he has stabilised over the last few innings, getting a few strikeouts. Right, Tigers eighth…first up, Asai, pinch hitter for Nohmi- a hit to first! Next up- Murton- and another hit! He’s looking really good so far. Hirano and Toritani come next, and are both out to leave runners on second and third with 2 outs- Toritani was close there running to first, but just not quite fast enough. Kanemoto up…and sadly out, to end the innings. Once again, an Aniki hit was needed to score- this time he couldn’t do it. Still, the win should be secured now by our relief. Messenger is up. A fly out, a fly out, a walk…and a great catch at left field to end the innings! Messenger did ok there. Tigers ninth…Arai…out…Johjima…a hit to left field! Brazell is out, as is Shunsuke Fujikawa, our rookie, who gets a look in as a pinch hitter. So, the final innings, and its our other, more famous Fujikawa, to finish. One out, two outs, and the game is ours!
Analysis: Murton is today’s hero. A fantastic offensive performance with 16 hits in the game, four hits and three home runs of which came from our foreign players Brazell and Murton. Clearly this is going to be a high scoring- and high conceding- season. Nohmi got better as the match went on, and our relief did the job, but this game was ultimately won by superior firepower and similarly weak pitching from the Carp early on.