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Yomiuri Giants 2 Hanshin Tigers 8

03 July 2010, Tokyo Dome

Yesterday was a day of sport – Hanshin beat the Giants 10-8 in an absolute thriller, Holland beat Brazil 2-1 in a World Cup upset, (Andy Murray was thrashed by Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon) and Ghana were unjustly robbed by a Uruguayan hand in the evening World Cup match. Today has almost as many sporting events – another round of Kyojin-Hanshin, Argentina-Germany, more Wimbledon and Paraguay-Spain. I will enjoy them while they last.

Today, youngster Tsuru starts (1-1, 2.78) against the Giants’ Fujii (6-1, 2.90). Tsuru has looked good in patches and I’m glad he’s getting today’s start.

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

There was a cagey start to this one, with Hanshin and Kyojin trading a couple of hits each in the first two innings. This seemed good to me- Tsuru, as a young pitcher, needs to ease himself into the game, and not make any big mistakes early on. In the Giants third, Edgar hit a home run for a 1-0 Giants lead. Following this, Giant’s pitcher Fujii hit an unlikely two-base hit. Still no outs, but Tsuru showed calm and composure to dispose of the three outs with no further damage. Hanshin immediately responded in their fourth. Arai hit to centre field, before Brazell hit a huuuuge home run into the right stand for a 2-1 Tigers lead! The home run competition is adding extra spice to the Kyojin-Hanshin derby – Brazell is now on 28, with Abe on 27 and Ramirez on 26. Johjima grounded out, but Asai hit to second and Sakurai was hit by pitch. Fujii tried a bunt, but the runner was out at third. Finally Toritani – he doesn’t look happy (he rarely does)…but he hits a sweet three-run homerun into the right stand!! Wow!! Hanshin leading 5-1!! Perhaps at satisfying as the 5 run innings was the subsequent Kyojin fourth- Tsuru dealt with the batters with ease. Tigers fifth – Murton was hit out again (3-0) – will his massive run of games with consecutive hits come to an end? Arai and Brazell both out too. Kyojin fifth – and again, while Edgar gets on base, the other batters pose no problem to the ascendant Tsuru. Hanshin sixth, and a new Giants pitcher – Toyoda. Johjima out, but Asai gets his third hit of the game! Excellent play from him. Sakurai follows- and hits!! Asai gets to third, with Tsuru up next…he receives some instruction on the sidelines…and wow! What a bunt! Tsuru gets to first, and in that time Asai runs home for a 6-1 lead!! Very well executed play. Toritani out, but Sakurai steals to third, and Hirano is up…and out. Hmm. Anyway, Kyojin sixth- and a quick trip to make myself a sandwich results in a bases loaded situation with only one out! Oh no- can Tsuru get us out of this? Whaaa! A deep fly looks like it might be a home run, but its caught, and only one runner gets home for 6-2. That’s it for Tsuru- pitcher change- but he’s played very well. Watanabe up – and Edgar out!

Tigers seventh – Murton up! Can he get his hit? No! Out at first. 0/4. Arai – deep fly out. Brazell – swing and miss. Giants seventh – and Watanabe is looking good, he gets the three outs! Tigers eighth – and another home run!! Johjima to the left field, and its 7-2!! The next batters- including Anki and Sekimoto as pinch hitters, fail to make an impact. Giants eighth – and its Kubota pitching. He too gets three outs with comparative ease, with little resistance from the main run of Gaints batters- Ogasawara, Ramirez and Abe! Too easy for the Tigers. So, to the Tigers ninth – Hirano is caught out. Murton- his last chance to get a hit today…and he does!! 😀 18 games in a row with a hit! Congratulations Matt. Arai next- and he walks. Brazell is caught out. Johjima- and an excellent hit to left field gets Murton home! 8-2!! Asai out, and its the Giants ninth. Fujikawa is no longer needed, so its Nishimura who takes to the plate. One out, two out…and that’s it! Another Tigers win!!

Match Analysis

This was the Tigers sixth win in a row against the Yomiuri Giants, a truly impressive achievement. Even more impressive was the manner of the victory- while yesterday’s game was the better spectacle, we simply overwhelmed the Giants today, who had no answer to our offensive capabilities. Home run’s from Toritani, Brazell and Johjima all lead the line, but there were other contributors too- Hirano contributed two hits, and Asai got 3 from 5, an impressive performance. Murton also continued his hitting streak. Tsuru pitched very well for almost 6 innings, with 5 strike outs and 6 hits given away. Watanabe, Kubota and Nishimura all followed well. A thoroughly professional performance from all.

Today’s hero was Tsuru- he said in the post-match interview he doesn’t matter who his wins come against (up until now Nippon Ham and the Giants), and that he has confidence in his own ability. Good lad! The final game of the series- tomorrow- is on early, so I might just catch the end, but there will be no long match report. Ganbare Hanshin!