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April 5th Akiyama v Ishikawa - The Pitching Follies

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April 5th Akiyama v Ishikawa - The Pitching Follies

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Akiyama didn't prosper but what really puzzled was the desire to keep Fujii in for the entire game. Given that his calling was really bargain basement one would have thought another catcher might have worked. However, the real folly came in Tigers ninth with the failure to use a pinch hitter for Fujii with runners on first and third. Let's face it if the fat one is going to hit in this situation its going to signify a miracle. Using Fukudome (the last available option) would have been a better idea. He has a big game temperament and even though it was a long shot it was much better than the certain defeat that resulted. Shimizu was still available and could have called the ninth though this would go against Wada's prejudices ("experienced" catchers should call the ninth). Scores

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Tigers 3 0 3 0 4 0 0 0 1 11 11 1
Swallows 4 2 0 1 2 1 0 2 X 12 19 2

Starting Lineups

1. Uemoto (Second)
2. Yamato (Centre)
3. Toritani (Short)
4. Gomez (First)
5. Murton (Left)
6. Ryota Arai (Third)
7. Shunsuke (Right)
8. Fujii (Catcher)
9. Akiyama (Pitcher)

1. Yamada (Second)
2. Yuhei (Centre)
3. Milledge (Left)
4. Balentien (Right)
5. Kawabata (Third)
6. Hatakeyama (First)
7. Aikawa (Catcher)
8. Morioka (Short)
9. Ishikawa (Pitcher)

And it all started so well for Tigers. Uemoto led off with a single and was stupid bunted to second by Yamato. Toritani flew out to left but then Ishikawa lost the script and gave up a single to Gomez. This allowed Uemoto to race home 1-0 Tigers, runner on first. Next was Murton who got hold of a loose Ishikawa pitch and blasted it into the left stand 3-0 Tigers. Ryota grounded out to third though and the innings was over. Still it had been a highly satisfactory start. Things though suddenly got very rough for Tigers. If they had had a good start then Swallows had a better one. Akiyama was abysmal from the first at bat and Fujii was as usual totally useless, unable to deal with or adapt to the situation. Yamada singled right and then Yuhei slammed the ball into the Tigers oendan for a two run home run 3-2 Tigers. This with no outs but Milledge struck out. Then Balentien walked. Things went downhill after this with Kawabata doubling to right off his first pitch - runners on second and third. Hatakeyama grounded out to third and Ryota could only throw to first for the out. It didn't come off and Balentien was home 3-3 scores tied, runner on third. Next was Aikawa who going with Akiyama's drift hit right to bring the runner home 4-3 Swallows, runner on first. Finally, Morioka lined out to first ending the innings. Ishikawa took heart from this rally and dealt efficiently with the Tigers bottom of the order in the second. No one reached base. Akiyama didn't take heart from anything and the Swallows second was marginally less torrid. He wasn't aggressive enough with Ishikawa and the Swallows pitcher singled to short. With one out down Yuhei walked - runners on first and second. Milledge did nothing but then Balentien hit over Shunsuke deep enough to bring both runners in 6-3 Swallows, runner on second. Kawabata flew out to centre though and ended the innings. Ishikawa's moment of grace was over - the top of Tigers order was back at the plate. Uemoto singled left and then Yamato had a stroke of luck. He hit into a double play but Morioka made an awful mess of it and both runners were safe. Toritani loaded the bases with no outs however, Ishikawa bounced back and struck out Gomez looking but couldn't hold. Murton hit left for a bases clearing double 6-6 scores tied, runner on second. Ryota hit to third but Murton stayed on second with Ryota on first. Shunsuke managed to fly out to centre and then Fujii popped up to second to end the innings. Kaneda took over for Swallows third and managed to retire the batters in order. Wada obviously had no faith in Akiyama continuing a feeling which he was correct to hold. Akiyama was dispatched to ni-gun after the game for further training.

Tigers fourth saw Ishikawa still on the mound which was surprising given how bad he had been. He dealt better with Uemoto and Yamato than the previous two at bats and no one reached base this innings. Kaneda got into all sorts of trouble in Swallows fourth though. With one out Yamada singled to centre. Yuhei hit left putting runners on the corner and then Milledge hit back to Kaneda who deflected it away from his teammates allowing Yamada to score 7-6 Swallows, runners on first and second. A wild pitch which Fujii missed badly took the runners to second and third but Kaneda struck out Balentien and then got Kawabata to ground out and end the innings. Tigers fifth and with one out Gomez singled to centre. Ishikawa couldn't handle this and Murton hit his second home run of the night going right this time 8-7 Tigers. It was back and forth stuff. Ryota grounded out but Shunsuke walked and Fujii hit his first pitch from a tiring Ishikawa to left - runners on first and second. This finally brought a pitching change Oshimoto taking over on the mound. It also brought a pinch hitter for Tigers Imanari who tripled to centre to bring in two more runs 10-7 Tigers and one would have thought the decisive moment of the game. The final batter of the innings was Uemoto who struck out swinging to end the innings. However, the game was not over yet and with Andoh on the mound Swallows set about fighting their way back into the game. Hatakeyama led off with a single to centre and with one out Morioka also singled putting runners on second. Yuichi (pinch hitter) singled to third which loaded the bases but didn't allow a run to score. A double play was possible but Fujii's calls were not good and what happened was that Yamada hit deep to right for a sacrifice fly 10-8 Tigers, runners on first and second. Yuhei hit left and even though the fielding was good another runner made home 10-9 Tigers with the runner from first being caught and run down by the fielders for the final out. Yamamoto pitched Tigers sixth and vitally kept them off base and the innings was scoreless. Given how poorly Andoh and Fujii had worked together you would have thought that Wada and Nakanishi would have had the sense to replace him for Swallows sixth. Not a bit of it - Andoh was put in for another innings and was a disaster. Milledge led off hitting short and beating Toritani to first. Then Balentien walked - runners on first and second. Two outs followed but Aikawa singled into centre which brought home another runner 10-10 scores tied, runners on first and second. Wada should be given a modicum of credit by reacting then and bringing on Katoh but only a modicum - he should have never put Andoh in for another innings given his pitching in the fifth. Katoh got Morioka to fly out and end the innings.

Tigers seventh saw Yamamoto still at the plate and he threw another vital innings once again allowing no base runners. Katoh had to fight Fujii as well as the Swallows in the bottom of the seventh. The calling was truely inept and it was only by luck that the Tigers got out of the innings undamaged. With one out the ever active Yamada took a dead ball. Yuhei struck out but Milledge hit left for a double - runners on first and second. With the threat of Balentien looming the next at bat Tigers took the easy way out and walked him to load the bases. This worked and Kawabata struck out swinging to end the innings but Tigers were running out of lives. Ishiyama pitched Tigers eighth and with two out walked Uemoto but got the next out to ensure no change in the score. Fukuhara took over for the Swallows eighth and with him and Fujii not exactly the best of pals there was an opening for the Swallows. They took it very effectively. Hatakeyama doubled left over Murton to lead off the innings. Aikawa flew out to right and Miwa (pinch runner) tagged up and took third. Then Morioka doubled right along the line bringing in Hatakeyama 11-10 Swallows, runner on second. Tanaka (pinch hitter) grounded out to Fukuhara but moved Morioka round to third. Yamada singled right and the runner was home 12-10 Swallows, runner on first. Yamada stole second always a good proposition on Fujii's arm and Yuhei walked. Finally Milledge popped up to second ending the innings. Tigers still had a chance and with the general low standard of both catchers it was a reasonable chance. Carpenter was Swallows pitcher and started the innings by walking Toritani - a good start. Gomez mistimed his hit and flew out in foul ground to first. Murton walked - runners on first and second. Here Wada started inserting pinch hitters. First was Arai who struck out swinging. Next was Sekimoto who dug one out and hit into centre. Toritani, always fast round the bases raced home 12-11 Swallows and Tagami (pinch running for Murton) took third. Tigers had a chance to level the game or even with a home run take the lead. However, the final batter was Fujii who was totally out of his depth. Given how badly Fujii had done this game it wasn't beyond the bounds of hope to expect him to be pinch hit for as well. It wasn't to be and he struck out swinging to end the game. Swallows victory.

It had been a wild and very exciting game with neither pitching lineup nor catcher being up to scratch. Murton had driven in 7 RBIs but despite his huge effort his teammates had thrown the game away. Tigers pitching really had been abysmal and despite the batters fighting hard Swallows had just had the edge on the night especially in the area of pitching with the slightly stronger relief. Wada had once again shown himself to be a poor manager especially with the retention of Andoh for Swallows sixth. Tigers have lost both their away series so far and do need to tighten up their relief. Whatever happened to Matsuda?
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