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June 12th Iwazaki v Wakui - Almost blowing it

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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.

June 12th Iwazaki v Wakui - Almost blowing it

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It had to happen - once Fujii was put back into the top team he would start as catcher and he would blow things. His calling was truly substandard this game and Tigers almost turned a comfortable victory on the back of some good work into a defeat. It took last minute heroics by Ryota to save the day and Tigers blushes. Umeno had been progressing well and was really beginning to look the part.Tigers don't need a never has been nonentity inserted into the side just because he is Wada's 'senior' catcher. How will young catchers get the 'experience' that Wada and co consider necessary if they don't get playing time? Scores

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Tigers 0 0 0 1 4 0 0 3 0 8 10 0
Marines 3 0 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 7 14 1

Starting Lineups

1. Uemoto (Second)
2. Ogata (Centre)
3. Toritani (Short)
4. Gomez (First)
5. Murton (Left)
6. Takahiro Arai (Third)
7. Imanari (Right)
8. Fujii (Catcher)
9. Iwazaki (Pitcher)

1. Ogino (Centre)
2. Suzuki (Second)
3. Iguchi (First)
4. Imae (Third)
5. Kakunaka (Right)
6. Huffman (Left)
7. Cruz (Short)
8. Yoshida (Catcher)
9. Wakui (Pitcher)

Tigers initially struggled to wear down Wakui and their first innings saw the batters fall in order. Iwazaki started poorly and with a poor catcher was immediately in trouble. The younger pitchers do not seem to respond well to Fujii behind the plate and this example follows that pattern. Ogino led the bottom of the first off with a triple to left centre. Not good. Suzuki flew out to left but not far enough for Ogino to attempt the run. Iguchi was next and singled easily left to bring home the runner 1-0 Marines, runner on first. Imae put the ball over Imanari who still seems to have difficulties with his positioning in the outfield and Marines had runners on second and third. Kakunaka singled right to bring in another run 2-0 Marines, runners on first and third. This time Imanari's positioning was better and Imae stopped on third. Still he made it home, the next at bat as Huffman singled left 3-0 Marines, runners on first and second. Cruz hit a fly to right which Imanari took successfully but Kakunaka was able to tag up and take third with Huffman staying on first. Finally, Yoshida struck out swinging. Tigers response in the second didn't happen - they fell 1-2-3 and the innings was scoreless. Marines attacked again in their second though this time without success. With one out Ogino singled to centre and then stole second - Fujii's arm being as useless as ever. Some things never change. Suzuki flew out to right and Ogino tagged up and took third. Fujii panicked and walked Iguchi but Imae popped up to short to end the innings. Tigers first hit came in the third with Fujii hitting back to Wakui who failed to stop the ball. He stayed on first though as the next two batters didn't do anything. At least Iwazaki didn't bunt. Kakunaka led off Marines third with a single to left and one out later made second on Cruz's ground out. The last batter was Yoshida who flew out to Imanari, the latter having sorted out his positioning.

At this stage of the game Marines looked in control. True Tigers batters were beginning to get on base but they weren't stringing anything together yet. All this was to change in Tigers fourth. With one out Toritani singled to centre and reached third on a wild pitch from Wakui. Gomez struck out and Murton walked which brought up Arai. He went right and brought in Toritani 3-1 Marines, runners on first and second. Imanari grounded out to short to end the innings but Tigers were now in with a chance. In Marines fourth Suzuki managed a two out hit but Iguchi swung too soon and flew out to Imanari in foul ground. Tigers fifth saw Wakui fold. Fujii singled to lead off the innings and was bunted to second by Iwazaki. Then Uemoto doubled left - a bunt that actually worked! Fujii was able to waddle home 3-2 Marines, runner on second. Expect Wada and co to use this bunt success as an justification for all the stupid bunts they order for the rest of the season. Ogata walked but Toritani struck out swinging. Next was Gomez with two on. He got a foolish pitch from Wakui which he blasted into the centre stand for a three run home run 5-3 Tigers. Murton hit his first pitch to right to end the innings but Tigers now had a nice lead. They needed to hold it and here Iwazaki had to fight his catcher as well as the opposition. With two out in Marines fifth Huffman walked. Cruz singled to centre which put runners on the corners. Yoshida was next but Itoh wisely went with a pinch hitter, Hosoya. He struck out though to end the innings. Tigers sixth was quiet with no one reaching base. Iwazaki had thrown 99 pitches and sense prevailed on Tigers bench - it was time to go with the relief. Katoh took over and did well retiring the Marines batters in order as well.

Itoh changed his pitcher for Tigers seventh and brought on Furuya. This nearly resulted in disaster. Yamato (replacement centre) led the innings off with a single to centre. Uemoto went to bunt which Furuya messed up and Tigers had runners on first and second. Having escaped this time Wada then had Ogata bunt the runners to second and third. This really was stupid management but remember a bunt worked this game so that's OK. Furuya struck Toritani out looking and then dead balled Gomez; bases loaded. Next was Murton who hit his first pitch high to left but flew out into the glove of Huffman to end the innings. Andoh pitched Marines seventh and things were a disaster. Iguchi led the innings off with a single to centre. Imae doubled right along the line - runners on second and third. Then with Fujii calling the same old Kakunaka did exactly the same. It really was abysmal work behind the plate 5-5 scores tied, runner on second. Itoh then proved that he could be just as stupid as Wada. He brought on Okada as a pinch hitter and had him bunt Kakunaka to third. One sometimes despairs. Cruz was next and he hit deep to left for a two run home run 7-5 Marines and all with one out. However, Marines had run out of steam and the next two batters were out fairly easily. But it had been a dreadful innings for Tigers. Still they can always rely on Marines relief to let them back into the game and this is exactly what the new pitcher Rosa did. Shibata (pinch hitter and replacement centre) singled to lead off Tigers eighth. Imanari singled right to set up runners on first and third. Fujii flew out in foul ground with no one leaving base. Tagami (pinch running for Imanari) stole second but Sekimoto (pinch hitter) struck out looking. Tigers had runners on second and third but needed something to happen. Uemoto added to the runners drawing a full count walk which was also the end of Rosa. Matsunaga took over the mound duties and faced Ryota (pinch hitter). He hit deep to centre. Okada raced after it and dived, gloving the ball but as he landed the ball bounced free of his glove - a hit and what is more a bases clearing double 8-7 Tigers, runner on second. After all the excitement Toritani ended the innings grounding out. Fukuhara pitched Marines eighth and went his own way. He did dead ball Suzuki with one out but Suzuki stayed on first and didn't move round. Tigers ninth was quiet. They would have liked more runs but this time couldn't get past Matsunaga. Oh pitched Marines ninth and gave up a single to Kakunaka. He was bunted to second by Okada but Oh stayed cool and struck out the next two batters as they both went for their swings to end the game. Tigers victory.

Amazingly Andoh picked up the win for this game with Oh gettting his Central League leading 15th save. Tigers though had drawn another interleague series and one is reminded of the saying 'Lions led by donkeys'. Fujii's return hadn't been quite the disaster it had promised to be though it was close. Wada's dithering isn't helping the side and an inability to build up any momentum is all due to management mistakes of which the return of Fujii was just another in a long line. Tigers batting had been impressive but they had been a trifle lucky to escape with a win. Ryota's hit could have been a brilliant diving catch and the third out. Tigers do need to be more consistent.
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