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Managing decisions

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Welcome to the Tiger Tails Blog

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.


Managing decisions

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One thing about Tiger's learning curve is the impatience that we fans feel while it all works itself out. Given that Kanemoto is also learning and making some real howlers fans are getting frustrated (once again impatience and swollen expectations). The closer issue is one that is really annoying. Mateo has hip issues - fair enough. So Tigers turn to Kyuji who is a bust as a starter but when he restarts the closing duties performs as if he had never been away. Great - this is good management but then Mateo is rushed back and promptly blows two save situations in a row. The annoying thing is that the lost game could have been won if Kyuji had been used in the closer role (and he was pitched in the 10th). If you have a resource use it properly.

The Dragons series was interesting in that in none of the games did Tigers score more than three runs. Messenger started the series and had a very impressive outing 7 innings on 104 pitches and only one run given up which was a Hirata solo home run. He left the game, no doubt, satisfied with his efforts and with Tigers leading 3-1 only for the relief to blow it. First Takahashi gave up a run in the eighth following a ground out and Gomez error. The score was still 3-2 Tigers and one wasn't worried. However, Kanemoto decided to try Dollis in the closer role and this didn't work out. Dragons took 2 runs to lead 4-3 and then held on to win. Messenger must have been pissed.

With the second game Tigers managed to dribble into a 3-1 lead. What has been noticeable is Haraguchi has been driving in runs at the rate of one a game recently. His hot batting streak is reinforcing his role as Tigers sole catcher and rendering him bar injury as unassailable. Who would have thought it. Once again a relief pitcher (this time Enokida) gave up a run and once again it was a 3-2 situation. This time one was a bit more worried but Kanemoto brought on Fujikawa who retired the batters in order. Tigers won though they do need to look at their anemic batting and desperately weak relief.

The final game of the series was Fujinami who seems to be taking more and more pitches to get through less and less innings. This game it was 124 pitches for only six innings. This time it was Chunichi who established an early lead 2-0 after the first but then they couldn't add to that and Tigers gradually pegged them back. Toritani and Fukudome levelled it in the sixth and then Kyuji pitched a scoreless ninth though he did put runners on. However, he got out of the bind safely and it was left to the irrepressible Haraguchi to supply the sayonara RBI to give Tigers a 3-2 victory in the bottom of the ninth.

The Carp arrived at Koshien the day after and for a long time the game was tight. Tigers got on the board in the fourth with a Takayama RBI and held a 1-0 lead. Iwasada pitched seven solid innings and everything indicated a narrow Tigers win until the ninth. Then for reasons only known to himself Kanemoto brought on Mateo to close. Surely, he can't have recovered that quickly? He gave up the tying run blowing the save and taking the game into extra innings. Kyuji pitched the 10th and kept the score level but things unravelled in the 12th. Tanabo and Enokida were totally unable to cope with the situation and Carp picked up three runs 4-1 final score. If Kanemoto had gone with Fujikawa in the ninth instead of rushing Mateo back precipitately then the game would have probably gone the other way. Haraguchi didn't drive in any runs this game but did have a hit.

Tigers bounced back but once again we had proof that Mateo was not ready. This time Tigers had built a 3-1 lead with yet another RBI from Haraguchi included. He at least is hitting which is more than one can say for people like Toritani. Anyway Iwazaki managed six innings and then Andoh pitched one. This time Mateo was asked to pitch two innings. One wonders what Kanemoto was thinking. Someone with hip issues which may or may not be cured and a proven alternative closer available and you ask the pitcher to throw two innings. It is tempting fate to say the least. The inevitable happened with Carp tying the game with two runs. This time though the gods sided with Tigers and Takayama drove in the sayonara RBI to give Tigers a victory 4-3.

The rubber game was a walkover for the Carp. Messenger couldn't repeat his heroics against the Dragons and was hammered all over the place. By the time he was pulled Carp were 7-4 ahead. He lasted precisely 3.1 innings. Tigers had blown a lead and were now in a situation where they would have to hit well to win. They have done this before (after all it is only the Carp) but the way Kanemoto switches players and plays around with the lineup doesn't make one confident. Hoshino used to do this to be sure but one always felt that he knew what he was doing something that you feel is lacking in the case of Kanemoto. Haraguchi though is prospering and drove in 2 RBIs batting fifth. Takayama is also enjoying himself and he had two RBIs as well. Carp added insult to injury getting to Takahashi in the eighth and adding an extra three runs (final score 10-5). This victory puts Carp at the top of the table with Tigers back in fourth. It's still tight though with only two games separating the top four. Tigers though need to do something about their relief pretty quickly and they can't keep on relying on the bat of Haraguchi for runs.
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