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Two for the price of one

Baseball news from Japan and Asia

Welcome to the Tiger Tails Blog

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.

Two for the price of one

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Watching the Tigers at Tokyo Dome one is reminded of what an exciting paring Takayama and Yokota are at 1 and 2. Game 1 of the season against the Giants provided Tigers fans with just what they wanted - a victory. It was also a handsome victory. Fujinami started slowly being unable to stop the Giants leveling the game but then settled down and pitched well. By the seventh though he was tiring and the Donue home run came from an obviously tired pitch. It was academic as Tigers were 8-1 ahead by that point. We also had two interesting runs scored. Firstly in the third a double steal which resulted in a run and then Poreda balked with a runner on third which meant a nice bonus. To add insult to injury Takayama then drilled the ball neatly into right to bring in two more runs. Kanemoto kept Fujinami in for the eighth innings and he had to get out of a bases loaded situation to exit the innings. Enokida closed the game down giving Tigers an 8-2 victory.
For the second game of the series Tigers came across an on fire Sugano and could really do nothing. They were able to get hits and in fact ended up only one hit short of Giants total. However, they didn't get the hits when they had runners in scoring positions. Iwata wasn't bad but he wasn't good either and managed to give up one run in the fourth and 2 runs in the fifth. Iwata still has to get going this season rather like Messenger in the previous games. The final score was 3-0 and it was Kanemoto's first shut out.
Messenger was up next and did well in the first three innings with no Giant scoring even though he had to work his way out of a 3rd base one out situation. He managed this and was rewarded in the fourth when his teammates gave him the run support. Fukudome hit a two run home run and then Messenger himself drove in two runs on a bases loaded single. Giants were reeling and it didn't get any better in the fifth when Tsuchida was taken apart for 5 runs. This actually involved Okazaki driving in runs as well and as a catcher he is improving. Giants finally got on the scoreboard in the sixth with one run but Tigers were clearly in the driving seat. Egoshi coming on to hit a home run was also welcome and the final score was 10-1. Tigers weren't really tested this series and were so much above the Giants in quality that the series was actually rather easy.
The Carp series would prove to be a tougher challenge. Carp actually seized the lead off Nohmi with two runs in the first. Tigers bounced back in the bottom with one run but there the game froze. Carp were content with their one run lead and they had the pitching to keep it. Nohmi wasn't pitching too well but the sheer lack of ambition from the Carp batters kept things tight. Eventually Nohmi was replaced after seven innings and it was down to the relief. Nakazaki pitched the Tigers ninth and with one out gave up a single to Fukudome. Then Gomez singled and Toritani did likewise to load the bases. Next up was Nishioka who basically stinks in bases loaded situations. In fact, the next event was worth a TV interview. Nishioka singled to bring two runners in and clinch a sayonara 3-2 victory for the Tigers.
Game 2 was similarly tight and the Tigers took a lead 2-0 into the eighth. Here Kanemoto decided to give Iwasada another innings probably with a complete game shutout in mind as well. Iwasada couldn't handle the situation and gave up two runs pushing the game into extra innings. Kanemoto made the right decision to use Mateo but hadn't reckoned on Enokida following for the Carp tenth being in quivering heap of jelly mode. By the time the innings finished Carp had four more runs and Tigers didn't have the strength to bridge the gap - final score 6-2 Carp.
The only thing one can say for sure about the final game of the series is that Fujikawa is looking less and less like a starting pitcher. He gave up 2 runs in the first and even though Tigers bounced back with a four run third one felt that he would struggle to hold the lead. Tigers runs came in a machine gun blitz with Egoshi, Imanari, Nishioka and Hojoh all driving in a run each. Fujikawa fell apart in the top of the fifth and was replaced with a Carp lead of 6-4. This went to 7-4 with Takamiya giving up a run and 8-4 in the next innings. The situation continued this way until the ninth when what looked like an unlikely victory saw a Tigers rally which almost snatched the victory from the jaws of defeat. Tigers added three runs with once again Nishioka driving in a run off a bases loaded situation though here poor running prevented two runners getting home. However, Carp held on to win 8-7. It was disappointing to lose the first home series but there were some encouraging things about the series. Fujikawa's role as a starter though must be questionable.
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