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April 4th Nohmi v Yamauchi - Another pitcher, another meltdown

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April 4th Nohmi v Yamauchi - Another pitcher, another meltdown

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Dragons pitcher Yamauchi didn't so much meltdown as never solidify. He bled runs from the first innings to the fourth when he was removed. Dragons tightened up after that and Tigers didn't score any more runs but what they had was enough. Nohmi struggled towards the end of his session and clearly pitching to Fujii is difficult. However, he wasn't over-pitched and here credit must be given to the management for actually recognising this situation. It was a nice series to win for Tigers though. Disturbingly though, attendance fell from a high of 30,000 on opening day to 23,000 for this game. This was not encouraging and one hopes it is not a trend that is continued throughout the season.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Dragons 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 1 4 10 2
Tigers 1 3 1 2 0 0 0 0 X 7 11 0

Starting Lineups

1. Ohshima (Centre)
2. Araki (Second)
3. Luna (Third)
4. Hirata (Right)
5. Wada (Left)
6. Fukuda (First)
7. Hernandez (Short)
8. Tanaka (Catcher)
9. Yamauchi (Pitcher)

1. Uemoto (Second)
2. Yamato (Centre)
3. Toritani (Short)
4. Gomez (First)
5. Murton (Left)
6. Fukudome (Right)
7. Imanari (Third)
8. Fujii (Catcher)
9. Nohmi (Pitcher)

Nohmi's start was just what Tigers needed. Efficient, focused and controlled. All three batters in Dragons first grounded out. Yamauchi managed to get the first out in Tigers first but that was the end of the good news. He walked Yamato and then walked Toritani - runners on first and second. Gomez struck out swinging but then Yamauchi walked Murton to load the bases. Then Yamauchi let go a wild pitch which Tanaka couldn't take and Yamato raced home 1-0 Tigers, runners on second and third. A run scored without a single hit. Fukudome walked to load the bases but then Imanari perhaps showing his inexperience tried to hit his first pitch and grounded out to first ending the innings. Tigers though had the lead. Dragons couldn't really respond in their second. Two outs went down before Fukuda doubled. Hernandez hit deep to right but Fukudome took the fly comfortably to end the innings. Yamauchi was even flakier in the Tigers second. Fujii and Nohmi presented no problem but then Uemoto singled right. He stole second successfully. Yamato singled to third where Luna fielded but threw wildly. Uemoto used the chance to make home 2-0 Tigers, runner on first. Toritani hit his first pitch left to put runners on first and third and then Gomez walked in four to load the bases. Yamauchi was really all over the place and Dragons should have replaced him around now. However, he stayed on. Murton was next and hit nicely over Ohshima for a double bringing in two runs 4-0 Tigers, runners on second and third. Finally, Yamauchi got something right and surprised Fukudome striking him out looking to end what was turning into a debacle for the Dragons. Once again Dragons struggled to get any momentum in their third. With two out Ohshima singled but Araki flew out to centre. Imanari led off Tigers third with a hit to short which should have been an easy ground out. Instead Hernandez fumbled the ball and Imanari was safe on first. He stole second but Fujii grounded out and Imanari didn't advance. Next was Nohmi who surprisingly singled to left bringing home Imanari 5-0 Tigers, runner on first. It was all a huge nightmare for Yamauchi. Uemoto singled right to set up runners on first and second but Yamato hit to third forcing out Uemoto. Tigers still had runners on first and second though. Finally, Toritani grounded out to first to end the innings.

With the situation deteriorating Dragons were finally able to string some hits together. Luna led off their fourth with a single to centre. Hirata hit right - runners on first and second. Wada grounded out to Toritani but the double play didn't come off with Luna reaching third and Wada on first. The first real threat from the Dragons. Fukuda was next and was lured into hitting his first pitch into a double play which ended the innings. Gomez led off Tigers fourth with a single to centre. Both Murton and Fukudome went for their first pitches from the hapless Yamauchi who amazingly was still on the mound. Murton flew out to left but Fukudome hit the ball into the stands for a two run home run 7-0 Tigers. Imanari flew out and then Fujii grounded out to third. In Dragons fifth Tanaka managed a one out single. Naomichi Donue (pinch hitter and replacement short) grounded out to Nohmi who threw to second for the force out but the runner was safe on first. Ohshima mistimed and popped up to third for the final out. Wakamatsu took over for Tigers fifth and started by Nohmi to strike out looking. Uemoto singled to right but Yamato hit into an innings ending 6-4-3 double play. Dragons bats came alive in the top of the sixth. It wasn't that Nohmi was tired it was just poor calling and option selection. Araki started the innings with a single to centre. Luna doubled along the left baseline to put runners on second and third. Hirata walked and suddenly the bases were loaded with no out. Nohmi and Fujii had no answer and were completely nonplussed. This state continued with Wada singling left off his first pitch to bring in two runs 7-2 Tigers, runners on first and second. During Fukuda's at bat Fujii took his eye of the ball. This flew past him and Hirata was able to score from second with Wada taking second 7-3 Tigers. Fukuda eventually flew out to right. Next was Ogasawara (pinch hitter) who walked - runners on first and second. Tanaka and Naomichi Donue both attempted to hit right but both flew out and the innings was over. Whilst it had been damaging it wasn't anything to worry about as Tigers still had a comfortable margin. Fukutani took over for Tigers sixth and walked Gomez with Toritani out. Murton singled right to set up runners on first and second but this time Tigers didn't exploit the situation as Fukudome hit into an innings ending double play. Tigers were still comfortable and in control.

Katoh took over for Dragons seventh and gave up a lead off hit to Ohshima. Araki grounded out to second which took Ohshima round to second base and here Wada panicked and changed his pitcher. The new pitcher was Andoh who, at least, did the job retiring the next two batters without Ohshima getting off second. Takahashi took the mound for Tigers seventh. He retired the Tigers batters in order in what was a rather comfortable innings. The real killer for the Dragons was their eighth which was pitched by Fukuhara. He pitched a superb innings keeping the Dragons off base. Dragons still had a small chance but it was rapidly disappearing. Tajima pitched Tigers eighth and gave up a lead off walk to Uemoto. Then we had a pointless stupid bunt - Yamato bunting Uemoto to second. Really there was no rationale for this move and it just served to illustrate the poverty of Wada's tactical management style. Toritani struck out and Gomez grounded out to end the innings. Tigers new closer made his second appearance for his new team. Dragons made a final effort. Nomoto (pinch hitter) singled right to start the innings. Naomichi Donue flew out to centre. Next was Ohshima who hit far and nicely into right centre between right and centre. This was a triple and Nomoto raced home to score 7-4 Tigers, runner on third. Araki was next but the run had galvanised Oh who struck him out looking. Luna was the final batter and he grounded out to end the innings and the game. Tigers victory.

Tigers took the series with Nohmi picking up his first win of the season. The game had been over since the fourth with Tigers having a commanding lead. Even though the Dragons did try hard they didn't have the firepower this series and were never able to overturn the margin. This was indeed a nice change as longtime Tigers fans will remember the game at Koshien several years ago when Dragons did overturn a seven run margin. Dragons do seem to be a rather lightweight team adrift without their genius of a manager (Ochiai). However, it is early season and there is plenty of time for them to pick up the pace. Tigers could be happy coming back to win the series after such a huge defeat in the first game.
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