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July 2nd Iwata v Ishiyama - Sleeping bats

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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.

July 2nd Iwata v Ishiyama - Sleeping bats

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As T-Ray put it this was a victory with a fair amount of luck in it but it was also a much better performance by Tigers pitching. Iwata had the vital pitch in the clutches and Tigers managed to escape serious situations on numerous occasions. It gave Tigers their first rubber for ages but one has to sound an element of caution here. Against a more competent team Tigers might well have fallen short. Encouragingly the pitching was handled more conventionally and Iwata was not too over-taxed but we still had Wada's patent stupidity. He replaced Arai with Imanari at third. The previous game Arai drove in two runs whereas Imanari is doing very little with the bat at all. Tigers could do with runs lower down the order but to play Imanari in preference to Arai ignores this need. Needless to say Imanari did nothing this game. That is not to say that Arai would have done so but it would have increased Tigers chances of scoring runs. Scores

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

Starting Lineups

1. Morioka (Short)
2. Ueda (Centre)
3. Yamada (Second)
4. Kawabata (Third)
5. Yuhei (Right)
6. Tanaka (First)
7. Noguchi (Left)
8. Nakamura (Catcher)
9. Ishiyama (Pitcher)

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

Tigers needed a good start to build on their victory of the previous night and Iwata delivered. Whilst they would threaten later Swallows top of the order failed to establish any pressure in the first and no one reached base. Ishiyama - a converted reliever making his first start was a bit too nervous in Tigers first. He got Uemoto to ground out to Morioka but then Yamato singled to centre. As is usual in these situations Yamato was off first and edging towards second and as is usual the pitcher throws to first to pull the runner back. Ishiyama though messed up his throw dropping it too short and Tanaka at first couldn't take. Yamato had time to get up and make second. Toritani grounded out to third but then Gomez singled left bringing home Yamato 1-0 Tigers, runner on first. Murton grounded out to short but Tigers had a slender lead. Kawabata led Swallows second off with a single to left - an immediate response perhaps? It wasn't to be Yuhei who had been so active the night before struck out swinging and then Tanaka hit into an innings ending double play. Ishiyama may have been new to the starter game but he did show a lot of sense and ability in the role. In Tigers second he walked Imanari with one out but then struck out Umeno and Iwata to end the innings. Swallows third saw Nakamura double to left with one out. Ishiyama walked on a full count definitely a poor bit of pitching from Iwata. Morioka went for his first pitch and flew out to centre but then Iwata walked Ueda in four to load the bases and get at Yamada. He responded to this crisis coolly and struck out Yamada to end the innings. Still one couldn't help feeling that the Swallows had blown a great chance. In Tigers third Ishiyama walked Toritani with two outs but this time Gomez could not convert and grounded out to second.

Once again Swallows would work a good chance but fail to convert. Kawabata led off the innings with a single which Uemoto fielded but couldn't throw in time. Then Yuhei doubled right to put runners on second and third with no outs. Surely this time the Swallows would score? They failed, Iwata needed to ensure that the ball didn't get hit deep and guided by Umeno he did this superbly. First Tanaka then Noguchi struck out. Next was Nakamura who was walked to load the bases and to get at Ishiyama. Ishiyama hit his first pitch to third for the final out of the innings. A poor start to the innings had been redeemed by some fine work. In Tigers fourth Fukudome singled left but all attempts to move him off first failed and the innings was scoreless. Swallows fifth and once again Iwata was not tight enough at the start of the innings. The lead off batter, Morioka, singled to centre. Then Ueda hit right - runners on first and second with no outs. Ogawa had Yamada bunt the runners to second and third. This was deeply questionable as a tactical move. It gave Tigers the first out and whilst the chance of a sacrifice existed the Swallows hadn't been able to do it the previous innings. So it proved, this time Iwata totally fooled Kawabata with a series of descending pitches that started with a high outside cutball in the zone, then an outside straight in the middle but on an outside track and finally a low outside fork still in the zone. Kawabata struck out looking. There was still one out to go and this was Yuhei who grounded out. Swallows had basically wasted three chances in a row. Tigers fifth was quiet - no one reached base. Swallows had yet another chance in their sixth though not as strong as the other three. With one out Noguchi hit right over Fukudome for a double. Nakamura struck out looking and then Araki (pinch hitter) walked. Once again Morioka who was quiet this game didn't do anything and grounded out to end the innings. Tigers sixth was pitched by Carpenter; Ogawa having gone for the pinch hitter in place of Ishiyama. Toritani led the innings off with a single but then one out later was caught up in Murton's innings ending double play.

Ueda led Swallows seventh off with a single to left. He was forced out by Yamada's ground out to short but Yamada was able to make first safely. Then Kawabata hit to second where Uemoto made a fine diving take and was up in time to throw to second for the second force out in a row. Kawabata was safe on first though. Finally Yuhei grounded out to Iwata ending the innings. Tigers seventh saw Umeno ground out with two outs. Arai (pinch hitting for Iwata) could only ground out to short though. As Wada had used a pinch hitter he brought on Fukuhara for Swallows eighth. Wisely he didn't change his catcher and Umeno stayed behind the plate. Tanaka led off the innings with a single to centre and was pinch run for by Hiyane. Hiyane was forced out when Noguchi grounded out rather rendering the use of the pinch hitter pointless. Noguchi stayed on first though as Fukuhara pitched sensibly and got the next two outs. Yamamoto took over for Tigers eighth and with two out gave up a single to centre to Toritani. Again Gomez couldn't convert and struck out swinging to end the innings. Oh pitched the Swallows ninth. Recently he has blown a couple of saves and has caused Nakanishi to mouth off. This time he was very secure retiring the three batters he faced in order to end the game. Tigers victory.

Watching this game was a tense affair with Tigers clinging onto the narrowest of leads against a series of strong assaults. Swallows will be disappointed that they didn't make more of their myriad chances especially in the third, fourth and fifth. Iwata picked up the win and whilst not dominating had shown that his best was good enough. The save was Oh's 16th and he leads the Centreal League in saves. Tigers do have the chance to sweep the Swallows with the third game of the series and one has to say that it is a good chance. This win showed a much better side to Tigers and one hopes that Wada doesn't screw things up again with his stupid decision.
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