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April 13th Enokida v Ohtake - Second bite of the cherry

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April 13th Enokida v Ohtake - Second bite of the cherry

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Tigers now have something exciting - a five game winning streak and a sweep of the Giants. This fine victory relied on control and patience though the coaches did try to screw it up with a very poor handling of the endgame. What is the point of a pinch runner if you don:t use him? The contrast between Tigers base running and Chono of the Giants couldn:t have been clearer. Speedsters held up on base twice when Chono went from first to home. Tagami and Shunsuke are not slower than Chono by any means. Another plus was the performance of Tsuruoka - it is a long time that Tigers have had such a good session behind the plate from its older catchers. It's too early to say yet but this performance gives hope that the Fujii reign is drawing to a close and not before time. Scores


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


Starting Lineups

Giants
1. Chono (Right)
2. Kataoka (Second)
3. Anderson (Left)
4. Murata (Third)
5. Lopez (First)
6. Abe (Catcher)
7. Sakamoto (Short)
8. Hashimoto (Centre)
9. Ohtake (Pitcher)

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

Both pitchers would pitch extremely well but Enokida would be phenominal. He started the Giants first very nicely retiring the batters in order. Ohtake also started well and retired the batters in order as well. It was obvious from the first innings that the match was going to be a pitching duel. Giants second was also quiet and what is more Enokida was extremely economical. He seemed to be relishing the fact of working with Tsuruoka. Ohtake's first stumble came in Tigers second when he dead balled Ryota with two out but Fukudome grounded out to second on his first pitch. Giants third took all of four pitches. The batter who provided the most resistance - Sakamoto grounded out to third. Hashimoto hit his first pitch into left past the glove of Toritani. Hara had Ohtake stupid bunt and it was a stupid bunt with Ryota charging in and firing to second to get the force out. Toritani supplied the double play. Tigers fielding this game was a class above. Tigers third took a bit longer but no one got on base.

Giants fourth was another quiet innings and there were as usual for this game no base runners. Tigers fourth was the same. Enokida as he does started to run into trouble in the fifth. At first it wasn:t apparent with Murata and Lopez flying out but then Abe doubled right along the line. Sakamoto walked in four - runners on first and second and Enokida concentrated on Hashimoto. He managed to hit back to Enokida for the final out of the innings. Ohtake also got into trouble in Tigers fifth but with more damage. Murton led off with a single to left. A wild pitch took him to second. Then Ryota hit to first. Lopez chose to throw to third to get Murton and even though the throw was good Murton was able to beat it and reach third safely. Ryota meanwhile was safe on first. It hadn:t worked out well for the Giants. Next was Fukudome who hit hight and deep into the right corner giving the field no chance. Murton touched up and made home easily 1-0 Tigers, runner on second, Ryota also having touched up. The next two batters couldn:t do anything and so the innings ended with a slender lead. Enokida couldn't hold it though. He did strike out Ohtake but then Chono singled to centre. Next was Kataoka who hit along the third baseline past Ryota's despairing dive into the corner. Murton was maybe a bit slow getting to the ball wihich did arrive in the most inconvenient part of the field possilbe it must be said. However, Chono raced round the bases to score 1-1 scores tied, runner on second. This focused Enokda who silenced the sizeable contingent of Giants fans very effectively by retiring the next two batters and keeping Kataoka on second. Neither Uemoto nor Yamato could do anything against Ohtake in Tigers sixth but Toritani bounced one over Ohtake. He was able to field but Ohtake couldn:t make the throw in time and Toritani was safe on first. It was to no avail; Gomez grounded out to end the innings.

Lopez worringly led Giants seventh off with a single. Abe flew out to centre and then Sakamoto hit into a double play. Once again it was all over quickly. Tigers seventh started with Murton beating Ohtake with a single. He was stupid bunted to second by Ryota. The option choosing in this portion of the game left a lot to be desired. Fukudome flew out to centre taking Murton to third but Ohtake stayed cool and struck out Tsuruoka to end the chance. Enokida started Giants eighth and struck out Hashimoto. This brought a pitching change and one can only feel that Wada had had second thoughts about pushing his luck with Enokida and another innings. Enokida wasn:t tired - he had only thrown 75 pitches over his 7.1 innings with four hits and one run - truely impressive. Fukuhara took over and looked most impressive retiring the next two batters with aplomb. Mathieson took over for Tigers eighth. Ohtake had taken 109 pitches for his seven innings and had still been very good - just outshone by Enokida's performance. Mathieson was full of fire and aggression. He took on Imanari (pinch hitter) whom it must be said batted most stupidly and struck him out. So did Uemoto who wasn:t much better and then Yamato flew out to left. A hit which went far and was taken right at the fence by Anderson. Giants ninth saw Oh take the mound and once again we saw much more impressive pitching. Partly this was the game which would give Tigers the sweep but partly Tsuruoka was demonstrating a higher level of ability than Fujii and his pitchers were responding. All three batters fell in order. The cherry on the cake of this innings was the final out of the innings that of Murata. He craciked the ball deep to right cenrtre and Yamato who had no chance of taking the ball before it landed had positioned himself to take it on the bounce. It looked a sure double but instead Fukudome racing round from right dived to take a superb catch and rolling a couple of times held onto the ball for the final out. It was a game winning take Mathieson returned for Tigers ninth and struck out Toritani to lead the innings off. Gomez was next and he doubled to left centre and was pinch run for by Tagami. More on that later. Murton followed and was deliberately walked by Mathieson much to Abe's chagrin. Abe hadn't intended this at all and he wasn't pleased when all Mathieson's pitches were directed low and outside. Tigers had runners on first and seconed with Ryota next. He cracked his third pitch into centre but Tagami was inexplicably held up on third. This kind of conservative base running doesn:t help at all - bases loaded with one out. Fukudome was due to follow but here Hara decided to change his pitchers and brought on Yamaguchi. All Tigers needed was a simple sacrifice fly which Fukudome would have delivered. but instead Wada sent Arai to the plate to pinch hit. Wada didn:t want something as mundane as a sacrafice sayonara. Arai with the bases loaded and one out hit into a double play to end the innings. Tigers had blown an easy sayonara chance.

The game went into extra innings and Andoh pitched the Giants tenth. He hasn't been particularly good of late and one watched the development with a nervous eye. We needn't have worried. Andoh was excellent and under Tsuruoka's direction retired the Giants batters in order. So to Tigers tenth and Yamaguchi again. He got Tsuruoka to ground out to second but then Shunsuke (replacement right) hit along the right baseline. The ball flew over Lopez's head and just landed fair - runner on second with one out. Yamaguchi struggled against Uemoto and walked him. This brought up Yamato who struck out looking. Two outs down and Toritani next. He singled left and here we thought was the winning run - after blowing the chance in the ninth surely the Tigers wouldn't do it again. They did. Shunsuke was held up on third and the bases were loaded again. Really, the current Tigers third base coach is as bad as Wada was. With two outs it didn:t look good but the next batter was Sekimoto (pinch hitter). His first pitch was a low straight which Sekimoto turned successfully into the gap between Third and Short for a sayonara single 2-1 Tigers.

It had been a hard fought victory with Tigers proving superior on their home ground. Sekimoto of course got the hero interview but Enokida, Tsuruoka and Fukudome's contributions had all been just as vital.. It was also nice to report that Koshien was sold out. The win went to Andoh and Tigers moved into second place in the Central League. Tigers do need to maintain the level of performance we saw over this series and be consistent. One also hopes that Tsuruoka can also maintain his level of performance.
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