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August 19th Messenger v Asakura - Just when you thought sense had prevailed

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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.

August 19th Messenger v Asakura - Just when you thought sense had prevailed

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Yes Wada is an idiot and yes he really does over-pitch his starters. With Messenger having had to work really hard to finish 5 innings (101 pitches) Wada had his pitcher throw another innings. Certainly Messenger wanted the innings but he hadn't pitched well and there was no guarantee that he would make it through the sixth. The end result of this stupidity was that Messenger threw 138 pitches over six innings - real folly and pathetic management by Wada and his non-entity of a pitching coach Nakanishi. With regard to catchers the main catcher is Umeno who is cementing his place as the automatic starter with a series of fine performances and improving batting. The back up will be Tsuruoka who as long as he doesn't start too many games shouldn't do any harm. Shimizu is now back in ni-gun and Fujii (thankfully) has totally disappeared. It took a long time for Tigers management to realize how bad he actually was and one can say that Fujii was a successful con-artist. The talk though is that if needed Imanari will be used behind the plate as an emergency backup. Don't they remember just how bad he was? Scores

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

Starting Lineups

1. Ohshima (Centre)
2. Araki (Second)
3. Luna (Third)
4. Hirata (Right)
5. Morino (First)
6. Fujii (Left)
7. Tanishige (Catcher)
8. Mitsumata (Short)
9. Asakura (Pitcher)

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. Messenger (Pitcher)

Messenger would have not an easy ride and would have to fight all the way for his victory. This makes it even more incomprehensible that he was put in for six innings. It was just as much lazy as stupid management both crimes which Wada is guilty of. Dragons would fail to exploit their chances this game though. Ohshima started the game with a double to right. The stupid bunt was laid down and Messenger who was supposed to field failed to pick up with the result that Dragons had runners on first and third. Araki stole second as Luna struck out and things looked pretty bad. However, Messenger and Umeno responded well and Messenger struck out Hirata then got Morino to ground out.
Amazingly Tigers had escaped without damage. Asakura was not so lucky. Uemoto started by grounding out but Imanari hit along the right base line for a double. Toritani singled right as well bringing in Imanari 1-0 Tigers, runner on first. Asakura walked Gomez and then faced Murton. He hit deep to centre bouncing the ball off the wall for a double. Toritani was home and Gomez reached third 2-0 Tigers. Fukudome did his usual and got out flying out to second. Itoh hit right to bring in Gomez 3-0 Tigers, runners on first and third. Then Umeno hit to centre to bring in another run 4-0 Tigers, runners on first and second. Finally, Messenger grounded out to end the innings. Tigers had started well. Dragons failed to respond and in fact no one reached base in their second. Tigers added more misery to Asakura's night in their second. With two out Toritani singled. Next was Gomez who blasted the ball left for a double. Toritani used his speed to reach home 5-0 Tigers, runner on second. Murton walked and then Fukudome flew out to end the innings. The passenger role seems to suit him. Dragons third was also quiet with Messenger retiring all three batters in order. Tigers third represented the first quiet innings for Dragons - no one reached base at all. This was because Tanishige had decided enough was enough and replaced Asakura with Okada.

Dragons were making Messenger work but weren't getting the runners on. That final little spark after the fouling off of the pitcher was missing. Dragons fourth once again saw no base runners. Tigers fourth saw Okada falter and fail. Uemoto hit to Luna at third and beat the throw. Wada had Imanari bunt but Tigers third messed it up and turned it into a bunt hit instead. Once again it went to Luna and once again he wasn't able to respond in time - runners on first and second. Toritani hit his first pitch deep to left to bring in both runners 7-0 Tigers, runner on second. The home side were running away with the game. Gomez walked in four but the next three batters fell in order. In Dragons fifth Ohshima singled with two outs but nothing came of this. Tajima pitched Tigers fifth and kept the runners off base. Here we saw for the first time that Messenger would pitch the sixth. He really didn't have much left in him. He started by issuing a lead off walk to Luna. Then he walked Hirata having lost his ability to place his pitches. Morino hit high to right but Fukudome was able to pick the ball off the fence for the out. Fujii though hit the ball towards Messenger and it bounced off him inconveniently and Dragons were able to get a runner in 7-1 Tigers, runners on first and third. Takahashi (replacement third) flew out and finally Mitsumata did the same - the innings was over and amazingly Dragons had only scored one run. Tigers sixth saw no one reach base but they were in a very comfortable situation.

Dragons seventh was pitched by Tsutsui - not even Wada was stupid enough to expect another innings from Messenger after that unnecessary marathon. He returned to fireballer mode and struck out all three batters he faced. As he has worked with Umeno he has started to become more of the reliever he used to be and one hopes he can continue this improvement. Payano took over for Tigers seventh and with one out faced Fukudome. Fukudome hit left for a double which surprised everyone - he was pinch run for by Yamato returning from injury. Yamato showed how he had recovered by stealing third. The throw from Akada (replacement catcher) was poor missing third and Yamato was able to slide into home safely 8-1 Tigers. Umeno walked but Ryota Arai (pinch hitter) struck out swinging to end the innings. Watanabe took over for Dragons eighth. Two quick flyouts followed before Morino singled right. However, Fujii struck out swinging and that was the end of the innings. Uemoto led Tigers eighth off with a single. He made second on Toritani's ground out - the Tigers short being the second out but Gomez popped up to second ending the innings. There just remained the formality of Dragons ninth. Surprisingly Wada chose Kojima who was still around (even more surprisingly). Umeno handled the nervous pitcher well with only Mitsumata providing any resistance and taking 13 pitches to winkle out. It was a nice example of patient catching. The final out was Akada who grounded out to end the game. Tigers victory.

This had been a very nice victory based on good work in the early innings by the batters and some hard work from Messenger. He is getting tired though and even though he has eleven wins now needs to be nurtured a bit so that he can complete the season as an effective starter. One hopes that Tigers haven't drained themselves and that they can continue to dominate the Dragons for the rest of the rubber as they did this game.
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