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At Tokyo Dome

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.

At Tokyo Dome

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Going into this series Giants were on a five game losing streak. They desperately needed to get back to winning ways but didn't really manage it. Tigers were without Mateo who now has an inflamed shoulder. This meant that they had to rely on Fujikawa and more on that later.

The series started with one of the three iwas Iwasada against Sugano. Sugano has proven difficult for Tigers but they managed to get runners on first and second in the first. Next up was Gomez who managed to hit to Sakamoto. Sakamoto went to third for the out and Murata missed the throw allowing the runner to get home 1-0 Tigers with Sakamoto being credited with the error. And that was basically it. The Giants managed three hits over the entire game and Iwasada gifted them four walks. They really did nothing and Iwasada pitched the first complete game shutout of his career. In fact things got easier as the game went on and the increasingly desperate Giants batters resorted to trying to hit the ball over the wall. Iwasada wasn't exactly stellar but was very, very good.

The second game was a bit more eventful. The second Iwa Iwazaki started and got into trouble in the third. The innings had been going well but Iwazaki walked Sakamoto with two outs. Then he threw a wild pitch and Sakamoto advanced to second. Nothing to worry about especially as the next batter hit to Hojoh at second. It was a difficult stop but Hojoh handled it very well - it was his throw that caused the trouble. This was wild and Gomez had to dive off first to get the ball and of course Cruz was safe. Sakamoto meanwhile scampered home 1-0 Giants with Cruz reaching second. Up next was Chono who singled to bring in another run 2-0 Giants. Finally, Iwazaki was able to get the third out but Giants had the lead. Tigers response was immediate. Imamura walked Shunsuke but struck out Fukudome who misjudged a low pitch. Gomez didn't misjudge and singled to put runners on first and third. Haraguchi was next and took a swing at a higher pitch which blooped up and landed safely in right bringing in a run 2-1 runners on first and third. Hague whacked the ball left for a double putting runners on second and third and tying the game 2-2. Next was Ryota who latched onto his first pitch and brought home both runners 4-2 Tigers and the lead. The innings was brought to an end by Hojoh who intent on blotting his copybook even further hit into a double play. This lead Iwazaki held and even survived a double from Sakamoto. However, he started to disintegrate in the seventh. Two outs went down and then Ohta hit and with a fine piece of running reached second. Then Shigenobu walked. Kanemoto decided that discretion was the better part of value and brought on Andoh. This worked as the first pitch Sakamoto received he hit straight to short for the final out of the innings. Cruz reached first for the Giants on an error from Gomez who dropped the ball but he stayed on first and nothing happened. Which is more that can be said for the Giants pitcher in the Tigers ninth - Miyaguni. Facing Haraguchi he was a bit too casual and Haraguchi slammed the ball into the left stand for a solo home run. This was followed by Miyaguni doing exactly the same to Hague with exactly the same result 6-2 Tigers. Yamato tripled and things began to look favourable for a big innings. Uemoto flew out though and a new pitcher brought a centre fly to end the innings from Toritani. Fujikawa closed the game out and he is clearly not the force he was. He gave up two hits and then let go a wild pitch which brought one run home. Next with just one out Sakamoto hit a sacrifice fly to bring the score to 6-4 Tigers. Closer and you could see on Fujikawa's face the realisation that he didn't have it anymore. He was mortified. Still he managed to get the flyout from Cruz to win the game. The two solo home runs had been essential and the Giants had lost 7 in a row.

The final game of the series saw Messenger pick up his 1000th strike out in NPB. However, it didn't stop the Giants winning though like the firs the game was tight. Giants got on the board in the bottom of the third with a Shigenobu single and Sakamoto home run. 2-0. Toritani pegged them back in the top of the fourth with a solo home run but there was no repeat of the night before and Tigers were 2-1 down. Messenger wasn't pitching particularly well and went 123 pitches on eight innings but Giants weren't playing particularly well either and so apart from the third he had an easy ride. Tigers though weren't batting well either and the Giants pitchers managed to contain them very effectively. Even so an effective series win for Tigers. They do have a number of fading players though and need to do something about their feeble relief. The starters are going deep mainly because of this but it is not a sustainable strategy for the whole season. Even a catcher of Haraguchi's quality is not going to be able to keep the pitch counts down.
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