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Giants confident despite slump

by Jim Allen (Sep 8, 2010)

Although the Yomiuri Giants were the target of some pointed comments from their owner this week, they remain confident a fourth-straight Central League pennant is within their grasp.

"The other teams are playing good baseball right now," cleanup hitter Alex Ramirez said on Tuesday at Yokohama Stadium ahead of the opener of a three-game series against the BayStars.

"We're trying to put everything together, pitching and hitting at the same time. But right now, we're not able to do those things, but we're trying, we're doing our best."

The Giants entered the series in third place, trailing the Hanshin Tigers by three games and the second-place Chunichi Dragons by 2-1/2.

On Monday, owner Takuo Takihana let fly with some rare criticism, saying second place was no better than last.

"We have 22 games remaining. We should treat these 22 games with proper importance and fight hard," Takihana said according to the Hochi Shimbun's online edition on Tuesday.

"In 2007 and 2008, we didn't clinch the pennant until after the 140th game. I'm not optimistic, but there's no need for pessimism. Looking at the playoffs is no good. If we can't win the pennant, it's the same as finishing sixth."

The Giants are 0-4-1 in their last five games, including a three-game sweep in Nagoya at the hands of the Dragons.

"Our pitchers pitched well in Nagoya, but we didn't hit," Takihana said. "I hope someone can spark our offense. We can't permit mistakes. If we make some nice plays, this headwind we are facing will become a tailwind."

Battery coach Shuji Nishiyama said errors were not a critical issue.

"When you lose, the errors stand out," he said. "We're losing because our timing has been lousy. We'll score a lot and not pitch, or pitch and not score, so we're losing games 8-7 or 3-1."

The numbers back Nishiyama's assertion. Although the Giants are 21-29-1 since July 1, they have been outscored in those 51 games by just seven runs: 257-264.

Ramirez echoed the coach's analysis and said staying relaxed and in control was the key.

"This is the time where experience counts," Ramirez said. "We can still take first place, we just have to relax a little bit more. We're trying, we're doing our best. We're good. We're good to go."


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