July 31st, 2012
Hanshin Tigers 7
Streak: Lost 2 Last 5: LWDLL
|W: Tsuru (1-0 / 1.35 ERA) L: Ishikawa (6-8 / 3.50)
Tokyo took an early lead in Koshien, but as has been the case with alarming regularity of late, the Swallows pitching just wasn’t there as a middle innings collapse allowed the Tigers to come back and win at a canter.
|Milledge (LF)||1||Hirano (2B)|
|Tanaka (2B)||2||Yamato (CF)|
|Kawabata (3B)||3||Toritani (SS)|
|Hatakeyama (1B)||4||T.Arai (1B)|
|Matsui (RF)||5||Kanemoto (LF)|
|Fukuchi (CF)||6||Murton (RF)|
|Morioka (SS)||7||R.Arai (3B)|
|Aikawa (C)||8||Fuji (C)|
|Ishikawa (P)||9||Messenger (P)|
The Swallows only runs of the evening came in the 1st, against a pretty hittable Messenger (he would only last four innings). A Milledge single, a Tanaka Tak-bunt and a single for Kawabata put men on the corners with one out for Hatake, who has been in fine form since the all-star games. He snuck one past Hirano and the Tokyo had themselves a 1-0 lead. Another single for Matsui to shallow centre scored another for 2-0 Tokyo, but back-to-back flyouts for Fukuchi and Morioka stranded the remaining two Swallows runners.
And the lead should have been extended in the 2nd. An Aikawa double to the wall in left and another Milledge single put men on the corners with one out for Tanaka, but alas he could only hit into a double play at short and the lead remained at two runs.
After that this one was all Hanshin, as the Tokyo bats managed just two more hits over the duration, while the Tokyo arms melted down.
Ishikawa dodged a bullet in the 3rd as two two-out singles and a walk (for Toritani, his CL leading 60th of the year) loaded the bases for Arai the elder (A.T.E.), but he grounded out tamely to second to keep the Swallows in the lead.
But such luck wouldn’t last much longer.
In the 4th, two one-out singles for Murton and Arai the younger (A.T.Y.) put men on first and second for Fuji, and he hit to right, the ball landing in front of Matsui. This should have “merely” loaded the bases, but the ball bounced of Matsui’s glove, hit his foot and then rolled into foul territory, allowing Murton to score on the E9, as well as leaving two men in scoring positions. 2-1 Tokyo. Asai, in for Messenger then walked to load the bases as things looked like they could get really messy. But Hirano could only ground out to short for a double play (great work from Morioka here) and Ishikawa escaped with the lead intact.
But it was only prolonging the inevitable, as the previously forecast messiness came along in the 5th. Back-to-back one-out doubles from Toritani and A.T.E. got things rolling to tie things up at 2-2. A triple to the corner in right from Kanemoto then made it 3-2 Hanshin (more poor fielding from Matsui helped stretch a double to a triple as, in the eyes of this writer at least, he got his angles all wrong) and that was all she wrote for Masanori, but unfortunately not for the Tigers.
In came Masubuchi, but the outcome remained the same as Tsubamegun’s favourite Jesus-toting ginger (J.T.G.) hit a double of his own to make it 4-2. A dead ball for A.T.Y. and a flyout from Fuji followed which saw Shoda replace Masubuchi on the mound to face the pinch-hitting Brazell. He hit the first pitch he saw to right to score the inning’s final run for a 5-2 scoreline.
And the game’s scoring was wrapped up in the 6th with Shoda still on the mound. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases for A.T.Y. to deliver a two RBI single to left to make it a 7-2 Hanshin Final.
- Ishikawa took the loss. His line: 4.1 IP / 97 P / 9 H / 3 K / 3 BB / 4 R / 3 ER.
- Balentien was out of the starting lineup for the second straight game with tightness in his right hamstring. He should be back, hopefully, tomorrow. Make no mistake, we need him.
- Milledge and Hatake both had two hit evenings.
- On yet another pretty poor night for the pitching staff, the only bright spots came in the performances of Kyuko (in his first appearance since May 28th vs Rakuten) and Fernandes who pitched hitless 7th and 8th innings respectively. A healthy Kyuko would be a gift from
J.T.G.god given the current state of the Tokyo arms.
- Matsui had a terrible night in the field, looking panicky and unsure of himself out there. Maybe the Bizzaro Disneyland with it’s gurning freaks aka the Koshien bleachers got to him.
- Tokyo’s final record for July: 6W, 9L, 3D. They are now 38-40, half a game back of Hiroshima in 3rd and five games ahead of Hanshin in 5th.
- Tomorrow will see Muranaka start for Tokyo (oh no……remember this?) against Kubo.