Adjust Font Size: A A       Guest settings   Register

Rob Smaal

Rob Smaal's Homepage at JapaneseBaseball.com

Tani's twin taters edge Giants closer

by Rob Smaal (Sep 22, 2009)

For a guy who doesn't even pack the hardest punch in his family, outfielder Yoshitomo Tani showed he still has some "slug" left in his 36-year-old arms.

Tani belted a pair of home runs and drove in three runs at Tokyo Dome on Monday afternoon as the Central League-leading Yomiuri Giants topped the Chunichi Dragons 5-3.

With the win over the second-place Dragons, the Giants' reduced their magic number for clinching the league title to three. If they can sweep the series with victories today and Wednesday, they will sew up their third straight CL pennant, earning a first-round bye in the Climax Series.

Tani's two-tater effort helped make a winner of young right-hander Shun Tono, who improved to 8-7 with seven innings of four-hit, three-run baseball. Tono whiffed five and walked a pair in his 103-pitch outing.

Reliever Tetsuya Yamaguchi was credited with a hold after working a scoreless eighth inning before closer Marc Kroon picked up his 26th save this year with a 1-2-3 ninth.

"This was a big win for us and puts us in a great position," said Tani, whose wife Ryoko has won a combined nine gold medals in World Championship and Olympic judo competitions.

"I'm really glad I was able to contribute," continued Tani, who was 2-for-2 with a walk and a hit-by-pitch. "We're taking it one game at a time, but because we're playing the Dragons, a win reduced our magic number by two, so it makes it that much more exciting.

"We want to clinch the championship as soon as possible so we hope to win again tomorrow and then celebrate on Wednesday."

Chunichi's Lee Byung Kyu hit a solo homer off Tono to put the Dragons up 1-0 in the top of the second, but Tani's two-run shot in the bottom of the inning off 44-year-old Dragons left-hander Masahiro Yamamoto gave the Giants the lead.

Chunichi briefly tied it 2-2 in the top of the third when a slow roller to second by Masahiko Morino scored Yamamoto from third after the veteran pitcher had drawn a walk to lead off the inning. Yamamoto moved to second when Tono also walked Hirokazu Ibata and then advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt before scampering home on Morino's groundout.

In the bottom of the third, it was Alex Ramirez's turn to take Yamamoto deep with a towering two-run home run to right-center. It was Ramirez's 29th longball of the season and it gave the Giants a lead they would not relinquish.

Tani led off the bottom of the fourth with a solo homer off Yamamoto to pad the lead. His 10th home run of the season sailed over the fence in right, landing in the Giants' cheering section, just like his first one earlier in the day. While his first homer barely cleared the fence, No. 2 was a bit more convincing.

"That one I hit a little better,"Tani said. "I thought it was gone the moment I hit it."

The Dragons put one more run on the board in the seventh when a line drive by Ryosuke Hirata scooted under the glove of sliding left-fielder Ramirez and went in the scorebook as a triple. Veteran pinch-hitter Kazuyoshi Tatsunami then smacked a sacrifice fly to right off Tono to score Hirata.

Yamamoto (1-3) took the loss as the Dragons fell nine games behind the Giants. He gave up five runs on seven hits through four innings.

For a guy who doesn't even pack the hardest punch in his family, outfielder Yoshitomo Tani showed he still has some "slug" left in his 36-year-old arms.

Tani belted a pair of home runs and drove in three runs at Tokyo Dome on Monday afternoon as the Central League-leading Yomiuri Giants topped the Chunichi Dragons 5-3.

With the win over the second-place Dragons, the Giants' reduced their magic number for clinching the league title to three. If they can sweep the series with victories today and Wednesday, they will sew up their third straight CL pennant, earning a first-round bye in the Climax Series.

Tani's two-tater effort helped make a winner of young right-hander Shun Tono, who improved to 8-7 with seven innings of four-hit, three-run baseball. Tono whiffed five and walked a pair in his 103-pitch outing.

Reliever Tetsuya Yamaguchi was credited with a hold after working a scoreless eighth inning before closer Marc Kroon picked up his 26th save this year with a 1-2-3 ninth.

"This was a big win for us and puts us in a great position," said Tani, whose wife Ryoko has won a combined nine gold medals in World Championship and Olympic judo competitions.

"I'm really glad I was able to contribute," continued Tani, who was 2-for-2 with a walk and a hit-by-pitch. "We're taking it one game at a time, but because we're playing the Dragons, a win reduced our magic number by two, so it makes it that much more exciting.

"We want to clinch the championship as soon as possible so we hope to win again tomorrow and then celebrate on Wednesday."

Chunichi's Lee Byung Kyu hit a solo homer off Tono to put the Dragons up 1-0 in the top of the second, but Tani's two-run shot in the bottom of the inning off 44-year-old Dragons left-hander Masahiro Yamamoto gave the Giants the lead.

Chunichi briefly tied it 2-2 in the top of the third when a slow roller to second by Masahiko Morino scored Yamamoto from third after the veteran pitcher had drawn a walk to lead off the inning. Yamamoto moved to second when Tono also walked Hirokazu Ibata and then advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt before scampering home on Morino's groundout.

In the bottom of the third, it was Alex Ramirez's turn to take Yamamoto deep with a towering two-run home run to right-center. It was Ramirez's 29th longball of the season and it gave the Giants a lead they would not relinquish.

Tani led off the bottom of the fourth with a solo homer off Yamamoto to pad the lead. His 10th home run of the season sailed over the fence in right, landing in the Giants' cheering section, just like his first one earlier in the day. While his first homer barely cleared the fence, No. 2 was a bit more convincing.

"That one I hit a little better,"Tani said. "I thought it was gone the moment I hit it."

The Dragons put one more run on the board in the seventh when a line drive by Ryosuke Hirata scooted under the glove of sliding left-fielder Ramirez and went in the scorebook as a triple. Veteran pinch-hitter Kazuyoshi Tatsunami then smacked a sacrifice fly to right off Tono to score Hirata.

Yamamoto (1-3) took the loss as the Dragons fell nine games behind the Giants. He gave up five runs on seven hits through four innings.


Back to the works of Rob Smaal
Search for Pro Yakyu news and information
Copyright (c) 1995-2017 JapaneseBaseball.com.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Some rights reserved.