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September 5th Shimoyanagi v Shinoda - The disintergration continues

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Featuring Christopher Amano-Langtree (a.k.a. Christopher)

This blog will attempt to report on as many Hanshin Tigers games as possible. Games will be, if possible, reported the day after and on rare occasions the same day.

September 5th Shimoyanagi v Shinoda - The disintergration continues

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Tigers fans are very, very angry. They cannot understand the sub-standard performances the team is putting in and practically everyone is being criticised. Okada seems to be helpless to change things and really Tigers are reduced to hoping that things just click and they start winning again (a 12 game winning streak would be nice). Only Toritani is taking any kind of responsibility and is obviously happier with the move to lower down the order. I mentioned in an earlier post that the key to winning the pennant is beating the B class teams and this is what the Tigers seem to have difficulty in grasping. The Giants don't - they beat the Swallows easily and the Dragons swept aside the BayStars (who gave the Tigers so much trouble).

This game saw the victory magic number switched off the difference between the Tigers and Giants fall to 3.5 games. What was so galling is that the Carp were not very good. The Tigers were worse, with the fielding being particularly abysmal. The Carp scorer was over generous to his own side though and two errors by Tigers fielders were ruled hits. Baldris needs to return to ni-gun. He is not an effective third base yet and his positioning is poor. Imaoka was the same but in 2005 that didn't matter as he was knocking in RBIs at an amazing rate. Baldris isn't even doing that and is more like the later Imaoka. Line scores

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Tigers 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 3 8 1
Carp 4 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 X 6 11 0

Starting lineups

1. Akahoshi (Centre)
2. Sekimoto (Second)
3. Sakurai (Right)
4. Kanemoto (Left)
5. Toritani (Short)
6. Takahashi (First)
7. Yano (Catcher)
8. Baldris (Third)
9. Shimoyanagi (Pitcher)

1. Higashide (Second)
2. Akamatsu (Centre)
3. Alex (Right)
4. Kurihara (First)
5. Shima (Left)
6. Seabol (Third)
7. Ishihara (Catcher)
8. Kokubo (Short)
9. Shinoda (Pitcher)

Shinoda pitches in sunglasses and bats without. He was poor and in fact a friend remarked that he was just like an average koko yakyu pitcher. He started poorly and gave up a hit to Akahoshi who beat the throw to first. Then Akahoshi half tried to steal second. He set off as the ball arrived at first and was then tagged out trying to return to first - an incompetent display but good work by the Carp. Sekimoto then hit to left and immediatley afterwards Sakurai hit. Runners on first and second with one out. Kanemoto was next and he hit to first and once again beat the fielder to first to load the bases - both with this hit and Akahoshi's Carp's first base play was abysmal. A mound conference followed to talk to Shinoda but it didn't help. Toritani was next and slammed his first pitch into the right field for a timely hit 2-0 Tigers. Kanemoto though stopped on second when he should have gone for third - the brief glimmers of improvement in the base running died. Takahashi grounded to short and the runners moved round to second and third but Yano also grounded out and the innings was over. Shimoyanagi's first innings was just as bad - but helped by some terrible fielding. Higashide led off with a hit to left. He looks rather like a smaller version of Imaoka which is diconcerting as you thought Imaoka was one of a kind. Akamatsu bunted to third and Baldris messed up the pick up allowing him to reach first (this should have been ruled an error but was called a hit). It became bases loaded with no outs with Alex's hit and Tigers were in trouble. Kurihara hit along the third baseline and Baldris who was standing too far in couldn't reach the ball which landed fair. A better third base would have covered the sack more effectively. Kurihara's hit drove in two runners 2-2 scores level with runners on second and third and no outs. Shima drove the ball straight at Sekimoto who totally messed the take up allowing the ball to balloon up behind him (in fact it went right through him). The two runners were home and the score was 4-2 Carp. Tigers had immediatley blown the lead and you knew that the way they were playing all chances of winning had gone. Sekimoto's mistake was so elementary that one is lost for words. Seabol hit into a double play and then Ishihara struck out - why hadn't Shimoyanagi done this at the start of the innings?

Tigers second was ineffective with no one reaching base. Likewise Carp's second - no one reached base. Tigers third though continued in this vane. Not that Shinoda had improved - he hadn't. He was still as poor as the first innings and Brown didn't look happy. In Carp's third Akamatsu slammed his first pitch for a two base hit. Alex grounded out but this was enough to move Akamatsu to third. Kurihara walked and once again Carp had runners on in a dangerous situation. Shima hit to right and Akamatsu was home 5-2 Carp. Seabol messed up a sacrifice fly which flew out to centre but Sekimoto coming round from second dropped the ball (it also was ruled a hit despite being a clear error) and Carp had bases loaded again. This time Ishihara hit into a double play and the innings was over. Tigers fourth was quiet again. Kokubo led off the Carp fourth with a hit. He was bunted to second by Shinoda but the next two batters were easily out and the innings was over. Tigers fifth was quiet as well and really the failure of the Tigers batters to take advantage of Shinoda was incomprehensible. Noguchi made his appearance as a pinch hitter before replacing Yano as catcher suggesting that Okada was not happy with Yano's calling. Shimoyanagi was pulled at the end of the fourth and replaced by Watanabe for Carp's fifth. He had thrown 66 pitches and looked totally ineffective. Watanabe's first innings was interesting. Alex he got to ground out but then Kurihara had another two base hit. With a runner on second he faced Shima and unleashed a 'kodomo no pitchi' (basically it bounced about two metres ahead of him and trickled towards the plate rather like pitches little children throw in the warm up entertainments before matches). This moved Kurihara to third but Shima struck out. Finally Seabol grounded out and the innings was over.

In Tigers sixth Sekimoto walked and one out later Kanemoto also walked - runners on first and second. Toritani misjudged a pitch and was struck out looking and then Takahashi grounded out to Kokubo and the innnigs was over. Watanabe returned for the Carp sixth and gave up a two out two base hit to Kida. He then walked Higashide to set up runners on first and second but Akamatsu lined out and the innings was over. Shinoda was replaced by Umetsu who managed to dead ball Lin (pinch hitter). This didn't help as no one did anything else and Fujimoto (who replaced Lin as a pinch runner) stayed locked on first. Kubota pitched the Carp seventh and surprise, surprise gave up a run - a solo home run to Kurihara who had had a very nice game (3 from 3 and a walk) 6-2 Carp. For Tigers eighth Brown turned to Brower which almost proved to be a deadly mistake. Sekimoto hit a two base. Brower then released a wild pitch, Sekimoto to third. Brower unleased another wild pitch Sekimoto home 6-3 Carp. Sakurai and Kanemoto were both out and then Toritani hit a two base. Hiyama was brought in to pinch hit and dispatched his first pitch to right for a hit. Incredibly Toritani was held up on third. Alex might have a strong throw but it is not always accurate and at 6-3 down you need to take your chances. Toritani should have gone for home. Sure enough Brown switched pitchers to Nagakawa and he got Katsuragi (replacement first) to ground out and end the innings. The last chance wasted. Nohmi pitched the Carp eighth and retired the batters in order. Nagakawa returned for the Tigers ninth and with the Tigers playing as they were and 29 saves the result was never in doubt - Carp victory.

The losing streak is now five games. The Tigers still have a lead over the Giants but for how long. Certain players need to be moved to the second team and others brought up, Takahashi, Katsuragi and Baldris do need to go. The lineup also needs to be solidified - Okada needs to end his obsession with switching the team to suit the type of pitcher and focus on consistency. Kanemoto needs to stop playing around and assume responsibility. The team is built around him and his attitude is not appropriate. Winning the pennant is still on but not the way the Tigers are playing at the moment.
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