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August 13th Iwata v Koyama - Wada's luck disappears

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August 13th Iwata v Koyama - Wada's luck disappears

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The key to this game wasn't the poor decisions by Wada but Iwata's rather mediocre start. From a pitcher who used to be untouchable in the first four innings but vulnerable in the fifth and sixth Iwata has become a pitcher vulnerable in the early stages. He wasn't helped by some poor fielding from Uemoto and Imanari but ultimately he took too long to settle and was punished for it. Scores

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

Starting Lineups

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

1. Chono (Centre)
2. Hashimoto (Right)
3. Sakamoto (Short)
4. Abe (First)
5. Murata (Third)
6. Takahashi (Left)
7. Ibata (Second)
8. Kobayashi (Catcher)
9. Koyama (Pitcher)

This time we saw Fukudome start despite his marginal ability with the bat. Wada's faith in players because they are 'ex-MLB' is as touching as it is pathetic. Unfortunately, it extends throughout the whole Tigers organisation who are happy to waste money on this blindness. Expect them to blow more money on the returning Fujikawa. Anyway Tigers first was well controlled by Koyama who retired the batters in order. The same could not be said of Iwata. He left his second pitch hanging and Chono got enough bat on it to propel it into the right stand for a solo home run 1-0 Giants. Hashimoto singled left but Sakamoto flew out. Then Abe doubled to put runners on second and third. Here Imanari blundered following a typical pattern in Japanese baseball. Murata hit a grounder to the third who instead of throwing to home to get the runner threw to first for the guaranteed out. 2-0 Giants, runner on third with two outs. Going for the home plate would have eliminated the chance of a run but it is not favoured as it puts another runner on. Koyama meanwhile made sure that the Tigers couldn't hit back and once again retired the batters in order. Things got worse for Tigers in Giants second. Ibata led off doubling to left centre. Iwata managed to strike out Kobayashi and Koyama but then walked Chono in four getting in a funk about the previous home run. Someone needs to speak to him. Hashimoto singled right 3-0 Giants, runners on first and third. Next was Sakamoto but there was further drama to be played out. Hashimoto on first tried to steal second. Umeno was aware of this and threw to second where Uemoto was the receiving fielder. The throw was a bit high and Hashimoto would have been safe but Uemoto dropped the ball and let it dribble away into the outfield. Uemoto isn't particularly good with his glove and had allowed Sakamoto to escape in the previous days match. The error was attributed unfairly to Umeno as it was clearly Uemoto's mistake. Chono meanwhile took advantage of the mistake to take home 4-0 Giants, runner on second. Sakamoto finally flew out but the Giants looked to have an unassailable lead. Itoh got Tigers first hit in the third, singling right. He was forced out by Fukudome's ground out to third with Fukudome making first safely. Iwata flew out but a wild pitch (signs of nerves from Koyama which Tigers should have exploited) took Fukudome to second. It didn't help as Uemoto flew out to centre. Giants third saw Takahashi single to right with two out but go no further. In fact from this point Iwata settled down and pitched rather well.

Tigers fourth saw them still struggling to get runners on and this innings they failed completely. The same could be said for Giants as Iwata was now pitching at something like his best - if only he could've done that earlier - and no one reached base. But the Giants still held a four run lead. Koyama began to tire in Tigers fifth and Fukudome was able to take advantage of the situation and single to centre. Next was Itoh who hit right and Fukudome used the opportunity to race round the bases and take third in an excellent example of base running. He is good round the bases but is not on them often enough to use this ability. Umeno hit straight to third for an innings ending double play. Giants fifth was also quiet and no one reached base. Koyama had shown signs of tiring in Tigers fifth and showed even more fatigue in the sixth. Here we saw one of Wada's strange decisions though. He decided to pinch hit Iwata even though the pitcher was by now motoring and had only thrown 81 pitches. It was a really strange decision especially as Iwata had gas in the tank and at least another innings in him. Ryota Arai was chosen but he struck out swinging. Uemoto worked a walk with Imanari grounding out and taking Uemoto to second. Toritani slammed his first pitch along the right baseline for a double bringing in Tigers first run of the game 4-1 Giants, runner on second. Next was Gomez who is going through a lean patch and who struck out swinging to end the innings. Kaneda took over the mound duties after Wada's failed pinch hit experiment. He was too high throughout his session and the first batter of the Giants sixth Murata hit deep to right centre. The ball hit the wall and bounced off it into the glove of the waiting Itoh. Itoh turned and threw with pinpoint accuracy to Toritani waiting on base. Murata was expecting a two base and was sliding in as the ball arrived perfectly positioned for Toritani to tag Murata out. It was excellent fielding. Another out later Ibata singled but Kobayashi grounded out to short to end the innings.

Tigers seventh started with a Murton single to right - Tigers last hit. Hara reacted and replaced Koyama with Aoki. Fukudome was next and hit low along the ground to first where Abe dived and snagged the ball. He tagged first and then was up in time to throw to second and sandwich Murton who was caught off base and tagged out. Itoh could only ground out and Tigers chances of snatching a victory were rapidly fading. Kaneda returned for Giants seventh - an innings too far. He had been too high in the sixth and was again in the seventh. He faced Cepeda (pinch hitter) who got one of the too high pitches and blasted an enormous home run into the upper tiers of the right stand. If Chono's home run had contained a bit of luck there was nothing lucky about this one 5-1 Giants. Two outs followed but then Sakamoto singled to centre. This prompted Wada to replace Kaneda with Tsutsui. Sakamoto meanwhile tried to steal second. Once again Umeno was ready and threw to second. This time the throw was to the left of home and Toritani could only block the ball. Umeno does need to be more accurate with his throws. Abe tired to hit to right but a nice dive by Gomez saw a good catch to end the innings. Kubo took over for Tigers eighth and faced Wada's desperate pinch hitters. Saka (pinch hitting for Umeno who was benched as punishment for missing the throw) and Takahiro Arai (for Tsutsui). With both that pair gone there was only the ineffective Uemoto who flew out to centre to end the innings. Shimizu took over behind the plate - at least it wasn't Tsuruoka and worked with another ex-MLB has been; Tateyama. He started by giving up a single to Murata but then Ohta (replacement left) hit into a double play. Ibata then flew out to left. Even though it had worked out well Tateyama had looked distinctly mediocre and not worthy of a place in the first team. Yamaguchi pitched Tigers ninth and had no problems with the batters retiring all three in order. Giants victory.

Tigers had been comfortably beaten by a team wanting revenge and playing at a level above their opponents. Make no mistake this game Giants were better and Wadas continued inclusion of lightweights and has beens in the side is a real problem for Tigers if they are to develop momentum. There is no justification for playing Imanari ahead of Takahiro Arai and none at all for playing Fukudome in the top team let alone ahead of Ryota Arai. Tigers pitchers seem to be tiring and the inadequacies of Nakanishi as pitching coach are really becoming obvious. Tigers need to lift their game to take the rubber tonight.
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