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October 5th Fujinami v Koyama - Hiyama's goodbye

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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.


October 5th Fujinami v Koyama - Hiyama's goodbye

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This game was a sell out; 47046 fans attended making it the highest attendance of the season at Koshien. Hiyama started and played in seven innings doing well in the field with a sharpness that belied his age. Fujii was abysmal behind the plate and had to be replaced by Hidaka who was also poor and nearly blew the victory. After the game Hiyama was tossed up eight times and made a gracious speech. Of course this isn't his last game for Tigers there are at least three more in which he will appear (one more regular season and two post season). In other news it is looking more and more likely that Messenger will not return to Tigers - there is a lot of MLB interest and Tigers will not match the offers. Scores


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


Starting Lineups

Giants
1. Chono (Right)
2. Hashimoto (Centre)
3. Sakamoto (Short)
4. Murata (Third)
5. Bowker (First)
6. Kamei (Left)
7. Terauchi (Second)
8. Katoh (Catcher)
9. Koyama (Pitcher)

Tigers
1. Nishioka (Second)
2. Shunsuke (Centre)
3. Toritani (Short)
4. Murton (Left)
5. Hiyama (Right)
6. Imanari (First)
7. Ryota Arai (Third)
8. Fujii (Pitcher)
9. Fujinami (Pitcher)

Neither pitcher looked particularly good this game but Koyama somehow seemed to have excellent control of the procedings until the eighth. Giants started well with Chono leading off with a double which hit the fence. So did Shunsuke in an attempt to stop the ball but failed there. He was OK though. Hashimoto struck out and then Sakamoto grounded out to second which took Chono to third. Murata took the same course and was out ending the innings. Koyama started very effectively striking out Nishioka and Shunsuke before getting the ground out from Toritani to end a quiet Tigers start. Bowker led Giants second off with a double into right field - Fujii was proving to be a bad choice for starting catcher. Kamei hit to centre which put runners on first and third Bowker not going for home as the ball stayed up in the air for a bit too long. With Terauchi next Kamei stole second - it looked even more dangerous but this was the bottom of the Giants order and they could be lured into swinging at the wrong pitches. This is what Fujinami did, Terauchi fell the next pitch after the steal to a cutball. Then Katoh also went for ane low, outside cutball as well and struck out. Finally, Koyama struck out swinging to a cutball as well ending the innings. So far Giants had made precious little of their opportunities. Tigers second saw the batters go down in order with Hiyama stroking the ball to left but flying out to Bowker for the second out. Giants third started with an out but then Hashimoto singled left. Sakamoto struck out and as he did so Hashimoto tried to steal second but the throw was good and he was out to end the innings. Ryota produced Tigers first hit and base runner leading off the third with a single to left. Fujii spoiled it all by hitting into a double play and then Fujinami struck out. One had to say that over the first three innings Tigers had maintained a clean scorecard because of the Giants failures to exploit their many opportunities not because the Tigers had been good though Fujinami had done well at the end of the second.

Giants fourth started with an out and then Bowker walked. Kamei also walked and Giants had runners on first and second. Terauchi was next and hit into centre - a doulbe which allowed Bowker to come round and score 1-0 Giants, runners on second and third. Next was Katoh and Fujinami was a bit wild with his second pitch but Fujii fielded successfully. He jumped up and threw to third to try and get Kamei who had come a long way off base. This was a stupid move and was probably Fujii trying to prove he could make a significant contribution to the game. He should have held onto the ball and let his pitcher get the outs. The ball glanced off Kamei as he struggled back to third and missed Ryota who had no chance, rolling away into left with Ryota in hot pursuit. Kamei reversed course and was home but also Terauchi made home 3-0 Giants. A costly and stupid error from Fujii. To add insult to injury Katoh struck out looking and then Koyama grounded out. With a comfortable lead one would have thought that Koyama would relax but in fact he got tenser and struggled through the fourth and fifth. Nishioka led off Tigers fourth with a single to right. A wild pitch took him to second and then Shunsuke walked - runners on first and second. Toritani grounded out to second taking the runners to second and third. Then Murton hit back at Koyama who managed to field. Murton had rounded first and at first the Giants went for Murton but then saw that Nishioka was off third and heading for home. A quick throw to Katoh blocked that attempt and Nishioka was run down and tagged out. Murton took second and Shunsuke ambled round to third. Hiyama followed and everyone was hoping that he would pull something out of the hat but he only flew out to right to end the innings. Giants fifth saw Hashimoto single again with one out. This time he stayed on first. Sakamoto did hit right but some sharp fielding by Hiyama saw that it was a flyout and not a hit. Imanari take note. In fact Imanari led off Tigers fifth and against a still shaky Koyama earned a walk. One out later he advanced to second on Hidaka (pinch hitter and replacement catcher's ground out). Then Fukudome (pinch hitter) flew out to left. Giants still maintained a stranglehold on the game. They couldn't score though - Tsutsui took over the pitching for the Giants sixth and with one out gave up a single into centre to Kamei. Terauchi managed to hit into a double play which ended the innings. Koyama settled again in Tigers sixth and retired the batters in order - he looked much more secure - his little fit of nerves having passed.

Kubo took over for Giants seventh and so far the Hidaka problems weren't happening. The batters went down in order however, Giants still held the lead. Tigers seventh was also quiet with the batters going down and Hiyama's last at bat of the game being a mishit ground out to first. He acknowledged the crowd and said goodbye. He was not going to field the eighth. Andoh pitched the Giants eighth and retired the batters in order as well. Things were stable but the question of the Giants lead was unanswered. In fact Koyama was looking at a complete game shutout - he returned for Tigers eighth having thrown only 79 pitches and surely he was good for another two innings. He had a comfortable lead and was pitching smoothly. Things fell apart in the innings through no real fault of his own though. It started with the lead off batter - Ryota who singled to centre. Then Hidaka hit poorly straight at Murata. This should have been an easy double play but Murata's throw was terrible being too high and outside Sakamoto and rolling away to second. Ryota was able to make third and Hidaka was safe on first. It was a bad error but still not life threatening. Arai (pinch hitter) hit right but Chono took the ball and was in quickly enough to make sure that Ryota didn't try for home - one out and Uemoto (replacement second) next. He took a strike and then a ball and then got a fork which was low middle inside the zone. Uemoto hammered the ball far straight and deep where it just cleared the fence hitting the back screen on the bounce for a three run home run 3-3 scores tied. Koyama had made a mistake there. His confidence, never strong, never recovered. He walked Shunsuke and then walked Toritani - runners on first and second. Hara acted and replaced Koyama with Sawamura. Murton hit to third where Murata screwed up again. He was able to step on the sack to get Shunsuke but then threw so wildly to first that the ball missed and Murton was able to reach second with Toritani on third. Shibata (replacement right) was next and he hit weakly into the infield where Terauchi running in from second fielded. Or rather he didn't; Terauchi bobbled and fumbled the ball so much that by the time he had thrown to first Shibata was safe on first. Of course Toritani was home as well 4-3 Tigers, runners on first and third. Finally Imanari struck out swinging to end the innings but Giants had literally thrown the game away. Still Tigers needed to hold the lead and we then had to have one of Wada's idiotic decisions. Leaving aside the idea of using Hidaka as catcher when he could have and should have used Shimizu he brought Katoh on to pitch. Now I have a lot of time for Katoh but we have a closer who is quite successful and reliable - his name is Fukuhara. Why didn't he start the ninth? It was after all a clear save situation. That being said what happened next was just as farcical as the eighth and this was Hiyama's retirement game. Has Wada no shame. Katoh performed well - he struck out out Yano (pinch hitter) and Kamei. In fact he perfomed so well that I took back my doubts and looked forward to the third out. Wada had other ideas and brought on Fukuhara for the final out. This almost didn't work. Terauchi singled and then advanced to second on a wild pitch - the first pitch to Abe which does not say much about Hidaka's skills - he should have stopped that one. He then decided to deliberately walk Abe - runners on first and second. Ishii (pinch hitter) was next and he also walked (though unplanned) to load the bases. So from two outs and no runners on Tigers were now at a situation of bases loaded all through the stupidity of the manager and the catcher. Tateoka (replacement third) was next and thankfully hit his first pitch to short for the final out. Tigers victory.

It would have been embarrassing if Tigers had blown the victory on Hiyama's goodbye game. Once again Hidaka had shown he was not first team material with his pointless mishandling of the ninth though Wada had also shown great stupidity in his handling of the situation as well. Tigers lost the season series against the Giants despite winning this game but only by the narrow margin of 12-11-1. The win went to Andoh and Fukuhara picked up a somewhat fortunate save. At least Hiyama is free of having to put up with Wada and his crowd of clowns. The final game of the regular 2013 season will be against the BayStars on October 8th at Yokohama
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