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April 8th Fujinami v Kubo - A different way to lose

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April 8th Fujinami v Kubo - A different way to lose

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The return to Koshien wasn't really what it should have been. Worryingly the ground wasn't full but even so there were enough fans for a good performance. For a while the Tigers were good and tight in control of the game. Until the BayStars seventh. Fujinami's previous loss was because he was over-pitched. This one was more to pitching and calling deficiencies. Fujinami has quite a range of pitches so why in the seventh was only the straight ball and the cutball used? Fuji's calling behind the plate has to be classified as a joke. Then why did Fujinami throw so many pitches in the middle of the zone? This was just inviting the BayStars batters to hit and hit they did - Blanco's grand slam was off a cut ball in the middle of the zone. Kinjoh and Yamazaki's hits also came off pitches in the middle of the zone. There has to be more intelligent pitching instead of gifting the opposition a win and there has to be a more intelligent catcher than the current fool behind the plate. Scores

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
BayStars 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 1 0 6 8 1
Tigers 0 0 0 0 2 2 0 1 0 5 13 1

Starting Lineups

1. Ishikawa (Second)
2. Yamazaki (Short)
3. Kajitani (Right)
4. Blanco (First)
5. Tsutsugoh (Left)
6. Baldris (Third)
7. Aranami (Centre)
8. Kurobane (Catcher)
9. Kubo (Pitcher)

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

Despite ample proof from last season that Fujii has no aptitude whatsoever for the No. 7 slot Wada insisted in putting him there. The impressions formed from the previous season were once again confirmed. He is a natural No. 8 and will never be anything else. It was interesting to see Kubo who left the Tigers last season pitch against his old team. He struggled throughout the game but came away with the win. Fujinami would pitch well up until the seventh. BayStars first started with a walk to Ishikawa followed by the obligatory bunt taking the runner to second. Of course the next two batters fell and that was the innings. Tigers first started with a single to Uemoto and of course as Wada is as stupid as Nakahata a bunt to second was the next move. Kubo walked Toritani - runners on first and second but then neither Gomez nor Murton did anything and the innings was also scoreless. Two outs down in BayStars second and Fujinami issued another walk to Aranami. Kurobane struck out swinging and that slight chance disappeared. Ryota led off Tigers second with a single. Fujii struck out looking and with Tagami gone Fujinami singled left off his first pitch - runners on first and second. Uemoto though struck out swinging. With one out in BayStars third Ishikawa hit to Ryota who fumbled the ball and dropped it allowing the runner to reach first. Yamazaki flew out but Kajitani walked. Blanco flew out to centre though. Tigers were keeping the game under control nicely. Tigers third saw first Yamato and then Toritani line out with Gomez striking out swinging. Kubo despite his pitch count and familiarity to Tigers batter was proving difficult to break down.

BayStars fourth saw Baldris (another former Tiger) hit his first pitch to left with one out. He was forced out as Tsutsugoh grounded out to Fujinami but Tsutsugoh was able to take first safely. Kurobane was next and could only fly out ending the innings. Murton led Tigers fourth off with a single to left. Ryota got all tangled up and could only pop up to Yamazaki. Fujii then hit into a double play ending the innings. BayStars fifth was quiet and the batters fell in order. Finally, in their fifth, Tigers managed to crack open Kubo. Tagami led the innings off with a single but Fujinami failed with his bunt attempt and was out. Uemoto worked a walk - runners on first and second. Next was Yamato who singled left and as Tagami is fast he was able to score 1-0 Tigers, runners on first and second. Toritani who has had a slow start to the season flew out to left. Gomez was next and cracked the ball left for a timely double 2-0 Tigers, runners on second and third. Gomez has now hit in all 10 games since the season started surpassing Murton's record of nine games. Murton went right but got caught up in the usual Koshien wind and flew out to end the innings. Tigers though had a nice two run cushion. Kajitani led BayStars response off with a single. He stole second but Fujinami struck out the next three batters struck out swinging - it was a nice piece of pitching. Tigers sixth and more punishment of the tired Kubo followed. With one out Fujii singled left. Then Tagami also singled left - runners on first and second. Once again Wada called for the stupid bunt from Fujinami but this time the ball rolled to Blanco who couldn't decide who to throw to. As a result he didn't make the throw in time and the bases were loaded. Uemoto singled right bringing in a run 3-0 Tigers, bases loaded. Next was Yamato who worked a walk - oshidashi 4-0 Tigers, bases loaded. Then things turned BayStars way - Toritani flew out in foul ground and no one made home. Finally Kubo summoned up a supreme effort and struck out Gomez looking to end the innings. However, Tigers were now very comfortable.

With Fujinami having only thrown 83 pitches and having struck out three in a row in the previous innings it was perfectly logical to ask him to pitch the seventh. The innings started well enough with two outs going down but the lack of variation in his pitching was worrying and should have been addressed by Fujii. Kinjoh (pinch hitter and replacement left) took full advantage of this slackness and doubled to right. Ishikawa dug a low cut ball out and hit over the infield but in front of Yamato to bring Kinjoh in 4-1 Tigers, runner on first. This really wasn't anything to worry about; an annoyance yes but not a reason for concern. All Fujinami needed to do was vary his pitching and Fujii to vary his calls. Neither did so. Yamazaki singled left - runners on first and second and then Kajitani worked a walk on a full count - bases loaded. It was an abysmal display by the Tigers battery and whilst Fujinami can to some extent be excused because of his inexperience Fujii certainly can't. Next was Blanco, whose first pitch was a 137 kph cut ball right smack in the middle of the zone. Meat and drink to a power hitter who hit 137 RBIs the previous. Blanco accepted the gift and blasted the ball straight into the backscreen for a grand slam 5-4 BayStars. Finally Fujinami struck out Tsutsugoh swinging but the damage had been done and Tigers only had themselves to blame. Osada took over for Tigers seventh and got Murton to ground out to second who messed up Murton being safe on first. Two outs followed but Tagami walked - runners on first and second. This time the pinch hitter, Arai, couldn't bring them home and flew out. BayStars lead was intact. Fujii was replaced behind the plate after his abysmal seventh as was Fujinami on the mound. The new battery was Shimizu and Andoh. Andoh was not the right choice and in fact has been pitching poorly so far. He continued this trend in BayStars eighth. Baldris singled to lead off the innings. Aranami bunted him to second but Kurobane struck out. Next was Kinjoh who had proved to be an inspired insertion and who continued to be so singling to centre to bring home the runner 6-4 BayStars and now the visitors had a cushion. Andoh got Ishikawa to fly out but really his dispatch to ni-gun can't be far away. Tigers eighth was pitched by Yamaguchi who was immediately in trouble. Uemoto singled along the left baseline and then Yamato walked - runners on first and second with no outs. Yamaguchi left the mound at that point and Ohhara took over. He struck out Toritani and then was replaced by Takasaki as Nakahata played musical pitchers. It didn't help with Gomez singling to centre to bring home Uemoto 6-5 BayStars,runners on first and third. Murton was next but he was having a quiet night and lined out straight back to Takasaki a piece of luck which BayStars took full advantage of as Takasaki was able to throw to first and catch Gomez off base for the final innings ending out. Fukuhara took over for BayStars ninth and did well retiring the batters in order. For Tigers ninth Sosa had the honour of closing what was a tight game. He had to work heard. Shunsuke (pinch hitter) led off with a single to right and then Imanari (replacement third) walked as Sosa struggled to find his rhythm. Fortunately, for BayStars he was able to do so. Tagami hit a grounder to first and BayStars threw to third for the force out - runners on first and second. Then Sekimoto (pinch hitter) flew out - two outs but Sosa let go a wild pitch which took the runners to second and third. Things were tight and tense with Uemoto next. He worked the count full but Sosa caught him looking with a peach of a pitch to end the game. BayStars victory.

Kubo had taken a perhaps undeserved victory but Tigers had only themselves to blame. And responsibility rests mainly with Fujii and Fujinami for their dreadful work in the seventh. Unfortunately we will continue to see more of Fujii and also Andoh who because he is a senior pitcher will be given more latitude to pitch indifferently than younger pitchers. This is how it works in the Tigers organisation. Blowing a game like this is not very encouraging but like the Dragons series Tigers can use the game to bounce back.
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