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September 11th Resop v Ishikawa - Imaoka is back

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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 11th Resop v Ishikawa - Imaoka is back

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There were a couple of surprises in this game. Firstly Resop started - it had been broached earlier but when it happened it was a surprise. The big surprise which hadn't been talked about was the return of Imaoka. His return was magnificent and he celebrated his birthday in style. Full credit to Okada for bringing him back. If he can maintain this form he will be a great addition to the side. Tigers picked up their third sayonara win in row getting to Lim - the Swallows closer who previously has owned the Tigers. The last time they won this way was against the Dragons and Giants in 2002 (24th, 25th, 26th July). This was their first time to win three sayonara games against a single team. Sekimoto's arm is swollen from his third dead ball on the 9th and he will rest for 12 days. Line scores. The Magic Number is now 17 as the Giants also won with the CM at 9.The lead is still 6 games.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Swallows 2 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 4 8 0
Tigers 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3x 5 12 0

Starting lineups

1. Akahoshi (Centre)
2. Hirano (Second)
3. Imaoka (Third)
4. Kanemoto (Left)
5. Toritani (Short)
6. Andoh (First)
7. Katsuragi (Right)
8. Yano (Catcher)
9. Resop (Pitcher)

1. Fukuchi (Right)
2. Miyamoto (Third)
3. Aoki (Centre)
4. Hatakeyama (First)
5. Iihara (Left)
6. Kajimoto (Second)
7. Kawashima (Short)
8. Fukukawa (Catcher)
9. Ishikawa (Pitcher)

Andoh was replaced by Takahashi at first just before the start of the game. Resop was nervous in his first start and didn't pitch too well in the first innings. With one out he gave up a hit to Miyamoto. This was followed by an Aoki two base hit and Miyamoto showed good speed to motor home 1-0 Swallows. Hatakeyama flew out but Iihara hit and Aoki made home 2-0 Swallows. Iihara tried to go to far and was caught and tagged out to end the innings but the Swallows were off to a good start and had a nice lead. Ishikawa started by getting Akahoshi to ground out but then walked Hirano. This brought up Imaoka - he worked the count full and then took a 131 kph slider deep into the left stand for a home run 2-2 scores level and what a way to announce your return. Both Kanemoto and Toritani flew out and the innings was over - the Swallows lead had disappeared in smoke. Resop's second was much better, the Swallows batters were retired in order. Ishikawa gave up a hit to Takahashi and one out later another hit to Yano but then got the final two outs to escape without damage. Swallows third was a bit more eventful. Resop started by walking Ishikawa. Fukuchi then grounded into a double play but Resop walked Miyamoto. Aoki hit again but this time a single to set up runners on first and second. However, Hatakeyama failed to do anything and the innings was over. Tigers third saw Kanemoto hit a two out two base but Toritani struck out and the innings was over.

The Swallows fourth was quiet with the side being retired in order. In Tigers fourth Katsuragi hit but nothing came of this. In Swallows fifth, Ishikawa added a hit to his walk. He advanced to second on a wild pitch and third on a ground out but the final batter, Miyamoto, struck out to end the innings. Resop would retire after this innings having thrown 99 pitches for 2 runs on 2 walks and 5 hits. A creditable first game in Japan. Tigers fifth was quiet with the batters being retired in order. The Swallows sixth was where Tigers ran into trouble. Watanabe was at the mound and walked Aoki. One out later Iihara hit to put him on second and then Kajimoto hit to load the bases. Watanabe was in trouble and messed up further by giving up a sacrifice fly to Kawashima 3-2 Swallows. Fukukawa grounded out to end the innings and keep the lead slender. Toritani responded with a hit in the bottom but Ishikawa was in control and the innings was scoreless. If Watanabe was not good, Nohmi (the pitcher for Swallows seventh was worse). He started well enough by striking out Ishikawa but then Fukuchi hit. Perhaps mindful of his mistake earlier, he did not try to steal but waited. He didn't have to wait long. Nohmi walked Miyamoto, then Aoki, then Hatakeyama - a walk in run 4-2 Swallows and the lead looked a bit more comfortable. Egusa was summoned to the mound and induced a double play to end the innings. Yano led off the Tigers seventh with a hit but a Lin (replacement right) double play got him out. Akahoshi hit but Hirano flew out and the innings was over. Egusa continued into the Swallows eighth and walked Kawashima with one out. He was bunted to second by Fukukawa but Shida flew out and the innings was over.

Igarashi pitched the Tigers eighth and was in control - retiring the side in order. It was beginning to look like the Swallows would win this one. The Swallows ninth saw the return of Williams who was excellent - all three batters falling and Aoki striking out to end the innings. Of course, for the Tigers ninth the Swallows star closer Lim, took the mound. He has owned the Tigers and no doubt expected the same this game but it was not to be. Okada in another of his brilliant pinch hit moves sent Hiyama to the mound. The volume at Koshien increased significantly and Hiyama responded with a two base hit. Next batter Katsuragi hit a three base hit to right and Hiyama was home 4-3 Swallows. The significance of this hit was that Tigers were almost certain to score the tying run. Yano was next and he hammered out a two base off the by now totally beaten Lim 4-4 scores level. Lin followed but struck out which brought up Akahoshi who hit - runners on first and third with one out and now the Swallows had a chance to escape the innings with a tie if they could engineer a double play. This was obviously on their mind as Lim walked Hirano. He would have just blasted the ball deep for a sacrifice fly but now the bases were loaded. Next batter was Imaoka who often hits into double plays. Not this time - by now Lim had no control and pitched four straight balls at Imaoka who cooly waited walk in run. 5-4 Tigers and sayonara victory.

An excellent series sweep for the Tigers. They had had to work hard for each victory but had shown greater mental strength than the Swallows. Imaoka's return worked like a dream and in fact he said he felt he was in a dream during his hero interview. Katsuragi has rediscovered his form and is hitting and scoring in clutch situations. Tigers are beginning to build up a nice momentum and are still the only side this year in Japan to have won 70 games (though Seibu will join them soon I believe).
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