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April 11th Messenger v Sugiuchi - A gem

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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.

April 11th Messenger v Sugiuchi - A gem

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There are really only two negatives to take from this game. Messenger was over pitched again and there were too many stupid bunts. Apart from that this was a wonderful victory with the batting coming through when needed and the pitching being tight and controlled. Giants were mightily displeased but comprehensively outplayed by Tigers. It was a well deserved victory. Scores

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

Starting Lineups

1. Chono (Right)
2. Kataoka (Second)
3. Anderson (Left)
4. Murata (Third)
5. Lopez (First)
6. Abe (Catcher)
7. Sakamoto (Short)
8. Hashimoto (Centre)
9. Sugiuchi (Pitcher)

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

The idea that Fujii can somehow bat seventh continues to obsess Wada's tiny mind - the fat one was once again in that position. The problem is that if other catchers (like Tsuruoka who can genuinely make a claim to bat seventh) can bat seventh then Fujii should. He doesn't have the capability and never has had. He is a No. 8 and nothing else. The game would hinge on walks but none of these would be converted. Giants first saw back to back walks of Anderson and Murata with two out - runners on first and second. In Tigers first we saw back to back walks of Yamato and Toritani with one out. Neither Gomez nor Murton could do anything about the situation. The second was quiet with both pitchers dominating and no one getting on base. In Giants third Kataoka walked with one out but Anderson hit into a 6-4-3 double play ending the innings. Tigers third was just quiet. As much as Messenger was dominating the Giants; Sugiuchi was dominating the Tigers.

Giants fourth was quiet with the batters falling in order. In Tigers fourth Murton walked with two out. He stole second which makes one reconsider the idea that he isn't suited to the steal - that is two successful attempts in as many games. His enterprise though went unrewarded as Ryota struck out swinging. By the fifth Giants had figured out Fujii's calling pattern for the night and so Sakamoto worked a walk. Another out followed but then Sugiuchi of all people produced Giants first hit - a single to centre - runners on first and second. Messenger had the answer though and struck out Chono to end the innings. Tigers fifth was just quiet with no one reaching base. Murton seemed to be tiring and walked Kataoka to lead off Giants sixth. Anderson grounded out to Uemoto taking Kataoka to second and then Murata hit his first pitch to right. This was deep enough for Kataoka to tag up and take third. However, Lopez hit his first pitch straight to Toritani for the ground out. Tigers sixth and Uemoto created their first hit - a single to left. He was stupid bunted to second by Yamato and then Toritani popped up to short. Why have your batter bunt if the following batter is not hitting well? Gomez worked a walk - runners on first and second. Next was Murton who hit his third pitch hard to right. It stayed high enough and straight enough to end up inside the foul pole for a three run home run 3-0 Tigers. Ryota hit straight to Murata at third and was out. Tigers had used half the hits they generated that night but what production!

Giants seventh was quiet as Messenger made sure that the batters didn't make base. Very nice pitching. Fujii led Tigers seventh off by hitting his first pitch into the glove of Kataoka. It really was inept batting. No one else could get on base and the innings was quiet. Messenger returned for Giants eighth. At 102 pitches this was unnecessary and he would suffer for it. Matsumoto (pinch hitter) struck out but then Chono singled left. Kataoka hit to centre and Giants had runners on first and second. Next was Anderson who hit right bringing in a run 3-1 Tigers, runners on first and second. Messenger was reeling but Giants came to his rescue. Murata hit to Uemoto who threw to Toritani. The latter barely controlled himself but took the ball on the sack and was able to get the throw away to Gomez on first for the double play. Murata was nowhere near base and an easy out and the innings was over. Hara wasn't about to make the same mistake as Wada and over pitch his starter and so Takagi took the mound. Unfortunately, it wasn't Takagi's night. He started by walking Uemoto. The stupid bunt went in which moved Uemoto to second but of course Toritani was out - flying out to left. Gomez though hit hard and deep to left centre for a timely double 4-1 Tigers, runner on second. Gomez was pinch run for by Tagami. Giants deliberately walked Murton to get at Ryota and the pitcher switched to Katsuki. Instead though Katsuki faced Arai (pinch hitter). He hit hard to right well over Kataoka for a timely single 5-1 Tigers, runners on first and third. Tigers had used up all of their hits but had a comfortable lead. Fujii was the final batter and grounded out weakly to end the innings but this wasn't of any importance. Oh pitched Giants ninth - this wasn't a save situation but it is a Tigers Giants game and more important. He retired the Giants batters in order to end the game. Tigers victory.

This was the first time Tigers had won a rubber lead off game this season. It was in front of their home crowd and it was done with an economy of hitting. Three of Tigers four shots were scoring shots. Giants couldn't manage the same proportion and were outplayed. Messenger picked up the win - his first and Tigers fans can look forward to the next two games but the pitching does need to be tight.
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