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Dragons 6 Tigers 5 (Game 1)

(Nagoya Dome)

Preview: What a shame we didn’t get the chance to clean sweep a series yesterday. Today is the last game I’ll be blogging for a few days- the Saturday and Sunday games start at way too early an hour in the UK for me to get up for them. Today is Andoh vs Yoshimi, a one win pitcher against a one defeat pitcher – although Andoh has an ERA of 5.4 to Yoshimi’s 3.0. It’s a tough game, but one we need to win- especially if we face Chen in the next two days (Chunichi’s star pitcher), which could be an easy victory for them.

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. Stern Faced Andoh (P)

Battery: Stern Faced Andoh-> Tsutsui-> Watanabe-> Egusa / Johjima

Game: Wow! I missed the start of this and a colossal five run innings! Murton, Hirano, Toritani, Arai, Johjima then Sakurai all getting hits to give us a 5-0 lead going into the bottom of the third- only Kanemoto and Brazell didn’t get hits. The Dragons immediately replied in the third, and got one on the board, 5-1. Andoh had a bases loaded two outs situation, but dealt with it- the batter grounded out in the infield. Our fourth goes without incident, their fourth sees a 1 out runners 2 & 3 situation develop. Come on Andoh! God damn it! Johjima makes a bad mistake- it wasn’t a particularly wild pitch I didn’t think, but Johjima failed to catch and the runner on third makes it home. Crikey. Damn!! Deep hit to left field, and its now 5-3!!! Ok, looks like Mayumi will have no more- Kubo pitching coach is out, Stern Faced Andoh is retired and Tsutsui is in, despite this only being the fourth! Could’ve kept faith a bit longer? Not sure. Undoubtedly we’ll now use our whole battery of relief- lets look out for Egusa, who I haven’t seen yet this season. Anyway, now its Tsutsui versus A Dragon, one out runner on second. Hit! God. damn. it. Now its three balls, one strike – and a hit to left field! 5-4. Pitcher meltdown. Oh no!! 😦 ANOTHER HIT!! 2 runners home, 6-5 to the Dragons! What a nightmare- we had a commanding lead and have completely let it go. Its still only the fourth though- what an amazing score- and we have time to come back. Ok- three outs. Right, let’s get back into this! Our comeback doesn’t start that well- Toritani flies out. Next up, Kanemoto – out. Johjima – out. Hmm.The fourth has become the fifth has become the bottom of the sixth – and Chunichi have another chance. Nothing comes of it. It’s now the seventh, and this game just feels like it’s getting away from us. Watanabe, and now Nishimura have pitched pretty well (the latter especially), but its up to our offence now. Eighth innings: Toritani- a hit!! Kanemoto- 2-2- and oh no! Kanemoto is struck out, and Toritani, who tries to steal second, doesn’t get there. Disaster.Kanemoto just isn’t looking like his old self, and Toritani shouldn’t have risked that. Arai is also out. Egusa- a small silver lining on an increasingly gloomy cloud. Nice pitching. Top of the ninth- trailing one run…last chance…can we do it? Johjima – strike, wow Asao’s pitching is fast- 151km/h. Fly out. Brazell- now facing Iwase (“Shinagami”)- out! 😦 Finally, Sakurai – ooh, a hit! Yano – why Yano? Should have brought in someone like Asai there- anyway, Yano- out! Game over 😦

Analysis: It would be too easy to stay batters good = 5-0, starting pitchers bad = 6-5; that wasn’t quite the story here. Sure, the batters started well, with an amazing 3rd innings. But after that, for the rest of the game, there were only 2 hits! Not enough to be honest, and Chunichi beat us on hits 14 to 10 overall. As for pitching, yes Andoh didn’t pitch well, but neither did Tsutsui who followed him and may get the loss I think. It was good to see Egusa at least, but a very disappointing result. I’ll be back on Tuesday for Hanshin vs Yomiuri.

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