, , , , , , ,

Yomiuri Giants 8 Hanshin Tigers 10

02 July 2010, Tokyo Dome

A true classic at Tokyo Dome. This post was written as the drama unfolded, with some analysis at the end…

If it feels like it’s been a while since I posted about Hanshin, then that’s because it has been. If it feels like it’s been a while since Hanshin played the Yomiuri Giants, then that’s also true. But starting today, we have a crucial 3 game series away to the old enemy in Tokyo Dome. Lying 4 games behind the Giants in the league, the onus is on us to at least secure a 2-1 series victory. The first game, today, comes off the back of a 5-1 win over the Chunichi Dragons, in which Andoh returned to ichi-gun and put in a good performance. Our offense, once it finds its feet, is very hard to stop, and we’ll need that power today against the Giants.

Our number 1 pitcher Kubo starts (7-4, 3.10) against the Giants’ Gonzalez (3-7, 5.33)- their respective stats are certainly encouraging.

Starting Line-up: Toritani (SS), Hirano (2), Murton (C), Arai (3), Brazell (1), Johjima (Ca), Lin (L), Sakurai (R), Kubo (C)

In the first Hirano got a hit, but nothing else happened. In the Giants first, they got a runner to third with one out, but the other two batters were dealt with. Tigers chance in the second- Brazell hit deep, and the catch was dropped by Ramirez! With a runner on second and no outs,  Johjima was walked, but the Giants got out of the pinch. In the Giants second, Abe hit a solo homerun, edging ahead of Brazell in the homerun charts. Another run was added, for 2-0. In the fourth, two more runs were added to the Kyojin lead off a Sakamoto 2-run homer. How does he get them? It looked like he had a fly hit to left-field, with nowhere near the power for a homerun, but somehow the ball carried into the stands for a 4-0 lead. The fifth and sixth were quiet.

Then came the Tigers’ magnificent seventh. Toritani hit to right field, and advanced to 3rd base due to a wild pitch. Hirano was walked, and at this point Hara changed pitchers from Gonzalez to Kubo. Off the second pitch (the first was declared a strike but looked wide to me), Murton hit a sweet hit to right field, which was fumbled, allowing Toritani and Hirano home and getting Murton to third base. An Arai hit to centre field narrowly evaded Sakamoto, and got Murton home for 4-3!! Brazell was next. He wavered on 3-2, before showing uncharacteristic restraint in leaving the 4th ball for a walk. Runners on 1st and 2nd, still no outs! Johjima next- at 2-0 he swung twice with poor timing and it was 2-2. Then another ball brought up the full count. On the next pitch he hit a low shot to left field, and Arai bombed it home for 4-4!!! Wow!! Mayumi then decided to change things up- Asai was up as pinch hitter for Lin, looking to use a tactical bunt, but in the end hitting to left field! Next up- Aniki pinch hitting for Sakurai, full bases, no outs!! Hilarious Hara moved in to change pitcher- Yamaguchi for Kubo. So- Yamaguchi versus Kanemoto. Aniki’s timing didn’t look great for the first few balls, and he swung at a very low ball for the third strike. 1 out. Next up- Sekimoto pinch hitting for Kubo. Some wild balls, and it was 3-1!! A ball, a walk, and a 5-4 lead!! Toritani up next- and a strike out! Two out. Hirano up next- he hits to centre field, a runner gets home, he is safe on first, but the ball is thrown to home plate before the second runner gets there, and Tigers’ magnificent seven finally ends, 6-4. Given we had 4-4 full base no outs, 6-4 is a bit annoying. But given we started the innings 4-0 down, 6-4 is fantastic! Asai was out at home plate and it was very close- I think it was a harsh call to be honest, although Asai is quite slow.

And so, finally, to another innings ^^ – Giants’ seventh. Uezono pitching for the Tigers. The first hitter is walked. The second hits to centre field, and all of a sudden this game could swing back. Uezono is looking nervy, with Ramirez at bat. But he holds it together for the three strikes- one out! Abe up, and Mayumi is changing pitcher, to rookie Fujihara! A risk? Maybe. Two fouls are followed by two balls, and then a hit- and a bizarre error by Brazell at first! He didn’t even touch first base, let alone attempt the throw to second. What a freak error.  High drama at the Dome. Full bases, one out. Mayumi changes pitcher again! That’s harsh on Fujihara, it wasn’t his fault Brazell made a mistake. Anyway, Nishimura is up. And two out! Nice pitching. Pinch hitter for the Giants- Takahashi. Seems to be popular among the Dark Side crowd. Damn it- he hits to right field, and two runners are home for 6-6. I blame the umpire- Asai was safe in our seventh! Still, when in Tokyo we have to play by “Giants rules”. Edgar hits to deep left also- damn it, damn it, damn it. 7-6 Giants. Next…a dead ball! It’s all going horribly wrong. A fly out ends the innings however.

Tiger’s eighth. This match report is turning into an epic, but then again it matches the epic quality of this remarkable game. What turns are left? Hopefully some, as Tigers are a run behind. But first batter, Murton, is struck out. Next up, Arai, hits to left field! Brazell is next, but Giants’ catcher Abe knows what he’s like and directs Ochi well. You can see the next pitch will be a ball by miles- and you know Brazell will swing at it. But he shows restraint, and its 2-2. And a home run!!!!!!! Hahaha…I’m sorry for everything I said Brazell. 8-7 Tigers!! Brazell smashes the ball into the centre of the  back stand- take that Abe!! Johjima gets a hit, and Asai bunts to get Johjima to second, with two out. Hiyama flies out to end the innings. Brazell the hero- and redemption for the fielding error in the previous innings.

Giant’s eighth, and Kubota. One out! A deep deep hit….but its caught! Two out!! Another deep hit…and another catch!!!! Three out!! We’re on the cusp…

Tiger’s ninth. Fujikawa (Shunsuke) – a hit, close at first base, but an error means he gets to second in the end. Toritani – yay, another HOME RUN!!! 10-7 Tigers!! 😀 Next Hirano- a brilliant bunt towards third, and he dives to first base- what a great season Hirano’s having. Murton flies out. Arai- a fourth hit of the game! Brazell is struck out however, leaving runners on second and third with two outs. Johjima next- a clean hit, but straight to Kyojin gloves…

So to the Giant’s ninth. Finally, this game grinds to an end, with Fujikawa Kyuji taking to the pitchers mound in search of his 14th save of the season, with the Tigers holding a three run lead. First batter- hits deep, but it’s caught. One out. Second batter- a home run!!! 😦 10-8 Tigers. Drama is left in this game (thank god for Toritani’s home run in the Tiger’s ninth though). Next batter- a deep fly out, two out! Phew…one more out…and it’s there! Game to the Tigers!!

Match Analysis

A brilliant win thanks again to our impressive offence. Two players in particular stood out today- Hirano, who got 4 hits from 6, and Arai, who got 5 from 6. Credit also to our two home run hitters- Toritani, and Brazell, the latter who atoned for his previous fielding error. Kyojin are easily the strongest team in the league, and we more than matched them offensively. Our pitchers were just good enough in the end. It’s a familiar story- weak pitching, strong batting, but in this case the pitching just held up while the batters excelled. We deserved the win, beating the Giants on hits by 17 to 11. Two more games to go!