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Japan Series - Game 1 - Messenger v Standridge

Baseball news from Japan and Asia

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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.

Japan Series - Game 1 - Messenger v Standridge

4 replies. Most recent reply: Oct 29, 2014 9:13 AM by Guest

Tigers took a well deserved lead against a peculiarly inept Hawks. It was just as well that they were inept as Fujii the Tigers starting catcher was mediocre to say the least. He did well enough when things were going smoothly but once they got difficult was rapidly out of his depth. Only Hawks incompetence prevented the score from being closer; not that they would have won but they could have made more of a fight of the game. On the Wada front, he will return next season but one has to say he has earned it. One has to give him credit (as one blames him for his incompetence one must also credit him when things go right) for having a team peak in such a way as to do what no other Tigers teams have done and win sudden death contests. Scores

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

Starting Lineups

1. Yanagita (Centre)
2. Akashi (Second)
3. Uchikawa (Left)
4. Lee (First)
5. Matsuda (Third)
6. Nakamura (Right)
7. Imamiya (Short)
8. Hosokawa (Catcher)
9. Standridge (Pitcher)

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

Wada continued with his Climax Series practice of having his catcher bat seven. This was as before a pointless waste of time. Neither Fujii, Tsuruoka nor Umeno are No. 7 batters and once again this was demonstrated. The thing is it has been known for some time that none of the catchers are suitable and putting a catcher in ahead of Yamato is an act of stupidity. The game started with Messenger retiring the first three Hawks he faced. Standridge did the same but unlike his previous game he was not so dominant and his pitch count would mount more rapidly than Messengers. The second innings also saw the Hawks fall in order. Tigers were off to an ideal start. In Tigers second Murton produced the first hit of the game - a single to centre. Fukudome struck out and then Fujii grounded out to second to end the innings. Hawks first hit came in their third with Imamiya leading off with a single to right. Here Hawks ineptness was revealed for the first time. Akiyama had Hosokawa bunt Imamiya to second. Consider this - the next batter was Standridge who was surely going to bunt and the folly of the act is clear. Hosokawa bunted successfully and then Standridge came up to bunt. He bunted infield to left. Messenger was able to field and throw the ball to Nishioka at third who neatly tagged Imamiya for the out - runner on first. It had been an ill considered passage by the Hawks. Messenger then struck Yanagita out to end the innings. Tigers third was quiet and no one made base.

With one out in Hawks fourth Uchikawa hit towards Uemoto who let the ball through his feet for an error - runner on first. Lee hit to Nishioka who took a good line catch and then Matsuda struck out. Uemoto led Tigers fourth off with a single to centre. This seemed to unsettle Standridge. He managed to get Toritani to ground out to him but Uemoto made second. Next was Gomez who casually turned his first pitch deep into the left corner for a timely double 1-0 Tigers, runner on second. Murton struck out but Fukudome walked which brought up Fujii who proved that Tigers catchers were no batters - grounding out to end the innings. Hawks fifth was quiet - even though Nakamura and Imamiya worked full counts they couldn't get on base and the innings was quiet. Standridge's disintergration continued in Tigers fifth. Yamato singled left and was bunted to second by Messenger. Nishioka walked but Uemoto managed to fly out to centre. Next up Toritani who also worked a walk - Standridge being too high with his final pitch - bases loaded. Gomez came up again and this time drove neatly between third and short for a timely single bringing in two runs 3-0 Tigers, runners on first and second. Murton was next and he hit deep to centre well over Yanagita who was standing too far in to intercept. This double brought in another couple of runs 5-0 Tigers, runner on second. This was the end of Standridge who was replaced by Morifuku. He faced Fukudome who drove a neat double between centre and left to bring in another run 6-0 Tigers, runner on second. Finally Fujii grounded out to end the innings. Basically this was the end of the match and all we would see from now on is the Hawks go out of their way to prove they were inept. They managed to do this despite Messenger and Fujii's ineptness in the sixth. Tigers were comfortably in the lead and Messenger faced Matsunaka (pinch hitter). He singled to centre. Yanagita was next and got a lucky impact which flew over third but importantly landed just fair. If it had been planned it would have been a double but instead it was a single - runners on first and second. Akashi struck out swinging which meant that Messenger had to face Uchikawa. Here Fujii called for a pitch low in the zone and outside which is something Uchikawa likes. The ball was dispatched neatly to right and Hawks had the bases loaded. Lee was next and in a truly poor at bat finally hit deep to centre for a sacrifice fly 6-1 Tigers, runners on first and second. Yamato's throw from centre had been prompt and quick enough to prevent the runner on second taking third. Messenger though managed to walk Matsuda to load the bases again. Once again Hawk's ineptness came to his rescue and Nakamura grounded out to short. Tigers sixth was pitched by Iwasaki who did rather well retiring the three batters he faced.

Hawks seventh started with Imamiya taking a swing at his third pitch and hitting along the third baseline. The ball landed foul but Nishioka decided to have a go and try to catch it. He didn't make it but as ruled to have touched the ball. Nishioka denied this vehemently and Wada came out to protest the decision by the third base umpire. Replays seemed to indicate a possible deflection from the edge of Nishioka's glove but these were unclear (and the replays were very good and from multiple angles). What they did show was the umpire crouching down to avoid the ball (very sensible) but in no position to see the ball or the play. His head was down and so he shouldn't really have made the call. Hosokawa grounded out to take Imamiya to third and then Yoshimura (pinch hitter) struck out. Tigers looked to have avoided the crisis but trust Fujii to call the wrong call. Matsuda was the lucky recipient and he drilled the ball to right for a timely hit 6-2 Tigers, runner on first. Honda (pinch hitter and replacement second) was next and he blooped his first pitch to Toritani for the final out. Okajima pitched Tigers seventh and with one out gave up a single to Toritani. This didn't progress as Gomez hit into a double play to end the innings. Messenger had thrown 109 pitches over seven innings and this was judged enough with Fukuhara taking over for the Hawks eighth. Fujii stayed on as catcher - hardly the most intelligent decision but it worked out OK. Fukuhara was able to handle the Hawks clean up and retire them in order. Tigers eighth saw Mori take the mound. He earned the ire of Hosokawa throwing a surprise high pitch which forced Hosokawa to suddenly stretch. Fujii singled to centre that innings but Yamato wasn't going to make any effort to move him round and struck out swinging. Hawks ninth was pitched by Oh of course. It wasn't a particularly distinguished innings but it did the job effectively with no runner making base. Tigers victory.

Tigers had won the first game of the Japan series and won it well. Uemoto at second hadn't been particularly good but his error was cancelled out by Hawks poor tactical game. One doesn't expect Hawks to play so ineptly next game but Tigers showed steeliness and strength to overcome their weak points. The batting was good and by pitching well in the early innings Messenger denied them any momentum or chance to get going. Once Tigers were 6-0 ahead the game was always going to be a Tigers victory and the home side can be really happy with their start.
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Re: Japan Series - Game 1 - Messenger v Standridge

[ Author: Guest: guest | Posted: Oct 27, 2014 6:03 PM ]
Batting the catcher 7th and Yamato 8th is not a terrible strategy. The thinking is that if Yamoto gets on with less than two outs, it's like having a second lead off batter. You can then have the pitcher bunt, having a likelier chance to drive Yamato in rather than a slow catcher. I'm also no big fan of the sac bunt, but in this situation it makes sense. Sac bunts and speed are more important in the Japan/World Series, when every run is even more important.
Tony LaRussa used to sometimes bat his pitcher 8th and a speedy batter after him, and he's a first ballot Hall of Fame manager.

Re: Japan Series - Game 1 - Messenger v Standridge

[ Author: Christopher | Posted: Oct 28, 2014 8:40 AM | Posts: 3481 | From: Tokyo | HAN Fan | Registered: Sep, 2004 ]
I beg to differ - what you are describing is a lineup for one specific scenario which occurs occasionally at best. Bunting No. 8 with one out drastically drops your chances of scoring and really you want your more effective batter in at 7 where they have more chance of driving in runs. They do not have this batting eight behind the catcher and Fujii (which funnily enough is not a criticism of him personally this time) in Game 1 proved this by failing with runners on every time.

Re: Japan Series - Game 1 - Messenger v Standridge

[ Author: Guest: T-Ray | Posted: Oct 29, 2014 9:13 AM ]
Agreed. If you want to talk about strategy, consider this:
Putting your eighth guy on (one out of every four at bats, say) and following it up with a sacrifice bunt by the pitcher gives your leadoff guy a slight chance of driving him home.

Letting your seventh hitter (NOT the catcher) have a chance to potentially drive in the 5th and 6th hitters if one or more of them are on base is a MUCH better strategy!

Re: Japan Series - Game 1 - Messenger v Standridge

[ Author: Guest: Gern | Posted: Oct 27, 2014 9:37 PM ]
What was the deal with the green armbands worn by starters on both teams?
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