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June 15th Messenger v Nogami - Was it necessary?

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Featuring Christopher Amano-Langtree (a.k.a. Christopher)

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June 15th Messenger v Nogami - Was it necessary?

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With an 8-1 lead after the sixth one wonders why Wada thought it necessary to have Messenger pitch the seventh and the eighth? The six innings had taken 98 pitches which given the lead was enough and it was clearly going to be a Tigers victory so one must lay this down to incompetence and inertia. Even in winning Wada screws up. Scores


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Tigers 0 0 1 0 5 1 1 0 0 8 13 0
Lions 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 6 0


Starting Lineups

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

Lions
1. Akiyama (Centre)
2. Kaneko (Second)
3. Kuriyama (Left)
4. Nakamura (Third)
5. Mejia (First)
6. Kimura (Right)
7. Hoshi (Catcher)
8. Nagae (Short)
9. Nogami (Pitcher)

Wada's lineup choice was bizarre with Fujii batting ahead of Ogata for no other reason than Lions catcher also batted seventh. However, unlike most of the times when Wada is tempted to put Fujii in at seventh this one actually worked and the fat one did well with the bat though he was his usual useless self behind the plate. It seems he has been thinking of retirement at the end of this season and one has to say 'yes please! - Hold onto that thought'. So to the game with Tigers first being quiet and having not a base runner. Lions first saw Kaneko single right and then steal second - it's like taking candy from a baby. However, Kuriyama and Nakamura both struck out and so no score resulted. Tigers second was also quiet with no base runners either. Mejia led Lions second off with a single to left. Kimura struck out looking and then Hoshi hit back to Messenger who turned neatly to throw and set up the double play to end the innings. Tigers third was interesting - Fujii led off with a double to left. This disconcerted Nogami who sent down a wild pitch taking the Tigers catcher to third. Ogata and Messenger struck out but Uemoto managed to drive into centre to bring the runner in 1-0 Tigers, runner on first. Uemoto tried to steal second but Hoshi has a better arm by far than Fujii and Uemoto was thrown out to end the innings. The lead didn't last long though. Nagae singled to centre. Nogami went to bunt and failed at his three attempts but then things really got dangerous. Akiyama singled to centre - runners on first and second. Then Kaneko did the same - bases loaded with Lions missing a chance to get the runner home. The Messenger/Fujii combination was not good at this point and Kuriyama walked - oshidashi 1-1 scores tied, bases loaded. It looked like Lions were in for a big innings but Messenger had the edge on both Nakamura and Mejia striking both out to end the innings. Messenger had blown the lead but not the game.

Tigers fourth was quiet and no one reached base. Two went down in Lions fourth and then Messenger sent down a wild pitch which Nagae swung at. Of course, Fujii missed the take (he could do nothing else) and Nagae was able to reach first safely. The next batter was Nogami though and he struck out looking to end the innings. Murton who had been anonymous so far took his second pitch deep to lead off Tigers fifth - runner on second. Imanari flew out and then Fujii drew a walk. - runners on first and second. Ogata was next and went after a low straight which was driven into the backscreen for a three run home run 4-1 Tigers. Messenger took a huge swing at a straight and bounced the ball off the left fence reaching first safely. This brought a change of pitcher, Toyoda taking over. He didn't do much better though. Yamato singled to put runners on first and second. Toritani singled right and Tigers had loaded the bases. Then Toyoda let go a really wild pitch which completely got away from Hoshi. By the time Lions had sorted themselves out two runners were in 6-1 Tigers, runner on second. Finally, Gomez struck out to end the innings which had been a disaster for the Lions. Messenger had an easy job in the shell shocked Lions fifth and retired the top of the order 1-2-3. Nakago took over for Tigers sixth and with Murton gone, Imanari singled to centre. Fujii hit left - runners on first and second. Ogata was up again and this time hit left as well to bring in another run 7-1 Tigers, runners on first and second. Messenger bunted his first pitch to Nakago who threw to third for the force out - runners on first and second and once again a stupid bunt. Uemoto hit high to centre but flew out to end the innings. Nakamura walked to lead off Lions sixth but no one was able to move him off first and the Tigers lead remained comfortably intact.

Things continued badly for Lions in the Tigers seventh. A one out single put Toritani on base. Gomez doubled along the left baseline and the ever speedy Tigers captain raced home 8-1 Tigers, runner on second. Imanari singled to centre - runners on first and third but Fujii popped up to second to end the innings. Messenger returned for Lions second which was questionable managing at best. He had done a good job and it would have been wise to bring on a relief pitcher - the type of pitcher used so that the starter does not get worn out too quickly. But Wada's rigid practice is that if you're under 100 pitchers you pitch another innings. Lions seventh started dangerously with Nagae doubling to centre off his first pitch. Two outs and he had reached third but Kaneko grounded out to short and no score resulted. Takekuma pitched Tigers eighth and retired the batters in order. If Messenger pitching the Lions seventh was pointless - him pitching the eighth was just imbecilic. There really was no need and one can only think that the principle of inertia was at play here. He had no trouble with the beaten Lions though who surrendered tamely in order. Tigers ninth saw nothing happen at all with the batters falling in order. Andoh took over for Tigers ninth which was a strange choice - one of your better pitchers when someone like Tsutsui or Kaneda would have been appropriate. He retired the batters in order to end the game. Tigers victory.

A consolation victory which does however keep the Tigers in joint second with Carp. However, there is a gap between them and the Giants of 4.5 games. Tigers aren't showing any consistency at the moment and one can only see this gap growing. Fresh from the criticism of the board meeting Wada went out of his way to show that even in winning it was justified and that he could no more manage a baseball team than Mayumi. The victory was very nice and showed a great performance by Ogata but it was just a victory. It will only have real relevance if the Tigers build on it and put together a winning streak. The interleague has two more series to run Fighters and Golden Eagles. Then we have the All Star break and it's back to the Central League.
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