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June 28th Iwazaki v Yamai - Deceptive

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June 28th Iwazaki v Yamai - Deceptive

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The belief that this game was tight was actually deceptive. Dragons controlled the game ruthlessly and despite a quality start from Iwazaki Tigers ran out the losers. Of course the decision to bring Fujii on to pitch with the relief contributed in no small way to the defeat. But why change the catcher anyway? The only reason seems to be pandering to the fat one's pride. Umeno has come on quite marvelously and certainly can handle the relief. Once again Nishioka and Fukudome started but really Tigers need to move beyond this automatic insertion of non performers. However, this will never happen whilst Wada is still at the helm. Scores


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


Starting Lineups

Dragons
1. Ohshima (Centre)
2. Tani (Second)
3. Hernandez (Short)
4. Luna (Third)
5. Morino (First)
6. Wada (Left)
7. Fujii (Right)
8. Takeyama (Catcher)
9. Yamai (Pitcher)

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

Sometimes Yamai is pretty poor and folds quickly. Sometimes his pitching is just sublime and this was one of the latter occasions. What was impressive was that working with Umeno, Iwazaki matched him over seven innings. However, his start was nervous and revolved around the third out. He had successfully negotiated the first two outs but facing Hernandez messed up with the Dragons short blasting a solo effort into the backscreen 1-0 Dragons. Luna singled but Morino hit his first pitch to second to ground out. Tigers couldn't even get a runner on base in their first and the batters went down in order. This was the case with Dragons second - Iwazaki pulled himself together and stifled them most competently. Tigers second was quiet as well with Yamai in total control and Tigers batters totally flummoxed. Dragons batters were also flummoxed in their third as well. Tigers third saw their first base runner though this was due to an error - Hernandez messing up a ground out from Yamato. Of course Iwazaki bunted Yamato to second but then the next two batters did nothing and that was as far as he got.

Dragons fourth and Luna singled left with one out. Morino though was lured into a double play and the innings was quickly over. Tigers fourth started with a bit of Toritani stupidity - he swung at his first pitch and grounded out. Gomez waited and was able to single into centre. Murton hit to second where Tani fielded but couldn't make the throw on time - Tigers on first and second. The next two batters did nothing - the ineffective Fukudome striking out and Umeno flying out to end the innings. Dragons fifth and Wada led the innings off with a strikeout. Fujii walked and made second on Takeyama's ground out. However, Yamai couldn't do anything and the innings was scoreless. Tigers fifth saw two outs go down before Nishioka earned a walk. He tried to steal second - a suicide signal if ever there was one and was out to end the innings. In Dragons sixth Tani doubled left over Murton. Hernandez grounded out but Luna earned a walk - runners on first and second. Morino couldn't do anything though and struck out looking - a superb pitch from Iwazaki. Tigers sixth and Uemoto led off with a single. He went to steal second and the throw missed the fielder allowing him to take third. Toritani flew out to centre but not far enough. Then Gomez hit nicely to left for a single which brought Uemoto home 1-1 scores tied, runner on first. Murton though hit weakly into a double play to end the innings.

Wada led off Dragons seventh and hit straight at Nishioka at third who dropped the ball and let it run away from him allowing Wada to reach second. Fujii struck out looking but Takeyama flew out to right allowing Wada to tag up and take third. However, the final batter was Yamai who flew out to left. Tigers seventh was quiet with no one reaching base. For Dragons eighth Wada brought on Fukuhara which was totally sensible; bringing on a relief pitcher at this point was the right thing to do. However, he then brought on Fujii as catcher which was not a sensible move. Ohshima led the Dragons eighth off with a single to centre. He was bunted to second by Tani and then Hernandez walked - runners on first and second. Luna flew out to right and Ohshima tagged up and took third. Two outs but Morino hit left past Toritani's dive to bring in Ohshima 2-1 Dragons, runners on first and third. Dragons couldn't add anymore runs though and Wada struck out swinging to end the innings. Yamai was still pitching and with Tigers eighth gave up a lead off hit to Imanari (pinch hitter). Nishioka bunted him to second which on the face of it is a pointless waste but given the current state of Nishioka's batting is all he's good for. It didn't help - both Uemoto and Toritani flew out without moving Imanari off second. Kaneda took over the pitching duties for Dragons ninth and retired the first two batters. Wada then switched him for Enokida which is more a comment on Wada and Fujii as catcher. Enokida wasn't exactly sharp and walked Ogasawara (pinch hitter). However, Ohshima grounded out to end the innings. Asao started Tigers ninth and despite having pitched eight innings Yamai had only thrown 98 pitches - Wada and Nakanishi take note. Gomez struck out looking but Murton walked. This brought an immediate change of pitching with Iwase taking over. He faced Arai who he probably walked quite deliberately - runners on first and second. Wada sent Sekimoto (pinch hitter) hoping for something special. It wasn't to be and Tigers didn't snatch an undeserved win. Sekimoto hit to short for a innings and game ending double play. Dragons victory.

Unfortunately, Dragons deserved their victory which had been built on a fine performance by Yamai. Tigers though they had had some great pitching from Iwazaki had not batted well. In fact, their inept play had been approaching embarrassment level and the substitution of Umeno by Fujii had been hard to understand. Tigers do have the chance to tie the series but one realistically cannot believe that they will win.
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