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April 10th Saiuchi v Mishima - First sayonara

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April 10th Saiuchi v Mishima - First sayonara

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After one game as a starter in 2012 then a spate of injuries and a short spell as a relief pitcher in 2013 Saiuchi finally made it back to the starting roster this season. God Tigers are slow at developing talent! He was paired with Tsuruoka in his first game as catcher for Tigers against his old team. About the best that can be said about Tsuruoka was that he was poor pulling his pitchers too far to the left and generally demonstrating a lack of competence behind the plate that equalled (but didn't surpass) Fujii's. He also has his own fight song which really is a travesty - he hasn't earned it at all. Tigers batters though showed plenty of fight and deserved the win coming back from a difficult situation to engineer a nice sayonara victory. Scores

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
BayStars 0 0 0 3 2 0 0 0 0 5 8 1
Tigers 0 0 2 0 0 3 0 0 1x 6 10 0

Starting Lineups

1. Ishikawa (Second)
2. Yamazaki (Short)
3. Kajitani (Right)
4. Blanco (First)
5. Tamura (Left)
6. Baldris (Third)
7. Aranami (Centre)
8. Takajoh (Catcher)
9. Mishima (Pitcher)

1. Uemoto (Second)
2. Yamato (Centre)
3. Toritani (Short)
4. Gomez (First)
5. Murton (Left)
6. Ryota Arai (Third)
7. Tsuruoka (Catcher)
8. Tagami (Right)
9. Saiuchi (Pitcher)

Saiuchi started BayStars first comfortably and got the top of the order out in order. Mishima was also just as effective and in contrast to other games no one reached base. The BayStars second was where Tsuruoka's deficiencies began to emerge. Blanco hammered the ball into the left field for a lead off double. Saiuchi struck out the ineffective Tamura but then walked Baldris - runners on first and second. Aranami flew out to Murton but Blanco thought better of tagging up and stayed on second. Finally, Takajoh struck out to end the innings. However, it had looked dangerous. Tigers second was quiet and it must be said that Mishima was pitching very competently and varying his pitches very well. Mishima led BayStars third off with a hit back to Saiuchi who half fielded deflecting the ball away from anyone and allowing Mishima to reach first. Then Nakahata had Ishikawa bunt him to second which is the stupidest bunt I have seen this year - there will be others. He reached third on Yamazaki's ground out to second but didn't get any further as Kajitani struck out looking. One still had that rather nervous feeling about Saiuchi and Tsuruoka though. Neither looked that good. Tigers against the run of play opened the scoring in their third. Tsuruoka led off with a single to centre. Tagami walked with Mishima suddenly getting the jitters - runners on first and second. Wada had Saiuchi bunt the runners to second and third and then Uemoto struck out in a poor at bat. Next was Yamato who hit right well over Ishikawa for a timely single bringing in both runners 2-0 Tigers, runner on second. Toritani hit his first pitch straight to Blanco who dropped the ball and fumbled around in the sand while Toritani took first safely. However, Mishima recovered himself and struck out Gomez looking to end the innings. Tigers though had a nice lead.

It didn't last. Blanco led off BayStars fourth once again hitting left. One would have thought that Tsuruoka and Saiuchi would have learned somethng from the previous at bat but they hadn't. Ryota was also a bit slow in responding and the ball rolled away into the corner for another double. Tamura hit a fly to centre deep enough for Blanco to tag up and the uneasy feeling returned in spades. This time BayStars were going to score. And score they did with Baldris hitting left over Murton and bouncing the ball off the fence for a timely double 2-1 Tigers, runner on second. Next Aranami who should have presented no problem but Tsuruoka was once again pulling Saiuchi left. His second pitch was also high and Aranami stroked it right where it flew past the pole for a two run home run 3-2 BayStars. Finally Saiuchi was able to get some traction and struck out Takajoh and then got Mishima to fly out and end the innings. He had blown his lead rather quickly. It was now Mishima's turn to be nervous and even though he got Murton to ground out for the first out of Tigers fourth Ryota hammered the ball left for a double. A wild pitch took Ryota to third and here was a nice chance for the tying run. Tsuruoka blew it, grounding out to Yamazaki who paused to lock Ryota on third before throwing to first for the ground out. Tagami was next but he struck out looking to end the innings. Wada panicked and instead of using Saiuchi for BayStars fifth sent Enokida in to relieve him. Given the margin and the fact that Saiuchi had only thrown 63 pitches this wasn't very good management at all. Enokida found Tsuruoka difficult to deal with. He got Ishikawa to ground out but then dead balled Yamazaki on his foot - runner on first. Kajitani singled right and Yamazaki made it to third. Here Wada panicked again and replaced Enokida with Kaneda. This wasn't a wise move. Kajitani went for the steal but Tsuruoka was aware and threw to second. However, whilst it was a strong throw it was too high and Uemoto had to jump to take it. Kajitani slid in safely and there was no chance of a double play. One thought fondly of Komiyama and his precise low throws to the right of second giving fielders the extra seconds to make the tag. It really was that incompetent. Blanco then hit Kaneda left as the pitcher was pulled in that direction. The ball pierced the infield and both runners scored 5-2 BayStars, runner on first. It really wasn't looking good. However, Tamura hit into a 4-6-3 double play to end the innings. The margin was reversible. Tigers fifth though was quiet - no one made base. Kaneda returned for BayStars sixth and this time had no trouble retiring the batters in order. Toritani led Tigers sixth off with a single to centre. Then Mishima got into all kinds of trouble walking Blanco - runners on first and second. Murton hit to right and here you felt that Toritani could have made home but he stopped on third. It was conservative running at its best but bases loaded and no outs. Next was Ryota who took a strike and then whacked an inside straight into left putting it over the head of Tamura and bouncing the ball off the fence. Two runners made home 5-4 BayStars, runners on second and third. Tsuruoka was next and drove into centre again to bring in another run 5-5 scores tied, runners on third and first. Here things got really strange. Ryota was on third and his brother Arai (pinch hitter) was at the place. Mishima let go a wild pitch which Takajoh deflected right. He raced after it and Arai signalled Ryota home. Ryota slid in as the ball reached Mishima covering the plate and was given out. Replays tended to indicate that the umpire had made a glaring mistake but we didn't get enough of them. NTV can deliver replays from all angles and it is a certainty that NHK do have cameras in similar positions but the editors don't use them. This is very poor and conservative coverage. One wishes for MLB level coverage which would make everything easier to follow. In the meantime Tsuruoka had taken second. Arai hit a grounder to short and Yamazaki came in to take the ball. Tsuruoka was running the base path but found time to deliberately impede Yamazaki. It meant that Arai was out but Tsuruoka reached third. This is old style BayStars cheating and one hopes that the coaches speak severely to Tsuruoka. We don't want that kind of thing infecting Tigers who are mostly an honourable team. The umpires though spotted the offence and Tsuruoka was given out for interference with Arai safe on first. Mishima though wasn't finished with the wild pitches and sent one down which Takajoh failed to hold but didn't spill far. Fukudome (replacement right) signaled for Arai to stay but Arai went for the steal anyway. Takajoh threw wall and the fielder had time to position himself as Arai slid in for the final out of the innings. It was almost as if Arai wanted to get off the field as quickly as possible and he sometimes does exhibit a wild streak in his running going for a base that isn't there. Tigers however, despite the craziness were level.

Katoh pitched BayStars seventh. He retired his old teammates in order and the innings was scoreless. Tigers seventh was pitched by Takasaki who was also similarly successful keeping Tigers base runners off base. Fukuhara took over for BayStars eighth. He dealt with BayStars clean up effectively striking out Blanco swinging. Takasaki also faced Tigers clean up in their eighth. He gave up a lead off hit to Toritani. Gomez went for the big one hitting his first pitch deep to centre but Aranami was well positioned and took a nice catch near the fence. Then Murton on a full count cracked a cutball back at Takasaki. Toritani set off for second but Takasaki surprised everyone by taking a nice catch above his head and then threw to first for the final out; Toritani having no chance of making his ground. Here Wada showed surprising sense bringing on Oh for BayStars ninth. This was unusual of our manager and one wonders what had gotten into him. Oh started nicely striking out Baldris swinging. Aranami popped up to second but then Ide (pinch hitter) singled to right. Kinjoh (pinch hitter) was next and he went for the big hit to centre but Yamato was under it and he flew out ending the innings. Tigers ninth and the sayonara play was on. Sosa was the pitcher and things started badly for him with the hot Ryota doubling to lead off the innings. Ryota was pinch run for by Shunsuke. Tsuruoka almost messed things up stupid bunting to first. Blanco automatically threw to third for the tag out but it did allow Tsuruoka to take first. Sekimoto (pinch hitter) struck out swinging and it began to look like Tigers had shot their bolt. Sosa was a bit wary of Fukudome who walked in four - not what BayStars wanted as it put a runner on second again. Next was Uemoto who with the field in hit to right over Kajitani. There was plenty of time for Saka (pinch running for Tsuruoka) to make home 6-5 Tigers sayonara victory.

Tigers took the series and the victory went to Oh. It had been a nicely set up sayonara even though punctuated by management stupidity. The bunt in the ninth almost blew it and the collapse in the Tigers sixth was farcical. Still good performances from Uemoto, Yamato and Ryota. It is not just the power hitters that Tigers need to rely on but also the lesser hitters, the guys who score 20, 30 or 40 runs in a season and keep the victories ticking over. The series with the BayStars had been tight with all victories being by the slimmest margins. Tigers batting is looking good so far but the catching and pitching is rather worrying still with Tsuruoka adding nothing to the mix.
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