While last week’s 5-0 record was impressive (and much needed), this week would be a true test of the Tigers’ mettle. Beating up on the lowly Swallows and Baystars was one thing, but going up against the two teams ahead of them in the standings would prove to be a lot harder. Or would it?
The week opened on Tuesday at Koshien, with Iwata taking the mound. The lower half of the order came through, and the Tigers posted a run in three consecutive innings (including an RBI by Iwata himself), and the Tigers started the week with a 3-1 win.
The Beard Buddies (ひげ友), Mauro Gomez and Matt Murton, hit home runs in the same game for the first time ever as the Tigers took a commanding 6-1 lead before collapsing at the end of the game. Fortunately, Oh was able to close the game before the tying run could score, and the Carp fell to the Tigers for the second straight game, this time by a 6-5 score. The Tigers actually broke a hitting record during this game: 27 straight innings with at least one base hit! Amazing! Thursday’s game was called off for fear of a typhoon that never arrived. Seven straight for the Tigers heading into their weekend series with the division leading Giants!
The strong show at the plate continued on Friday, and the bats stayed red hot! The Tigers scored 12 big runs in support of Randy Messenger, got a little help from a poor decision by Giants’ manager Hara, and won game 1 of the series.
Unfortunately, they ran into a red-hot pitcher on Saturday in Sugiuchi. The Tigers recorded a mere two hits and four base runners as they lost 5-0. The game featured Atsushi Nohmi’s return to the mound after nearly two weeks recovering from an injury. He pitched adequately, allowing 2 earned runs in 6 innings, but receiving no run support or help from the bullpen.
Fortunately the week ended on a positive note, and the Tigers took the series from the Giants, winning 6-4. Trailing much of the game, pinch hitter Sekimoto hit a grand slam in the seventh and followed it up with another RBI in the ninth for good measure.
The good times continue as the Tigers beat up on the Carp and took two of three from the Giants. Second place is ours again! Here are the standings as of the end of play on July 13th:
The record looks better, the standings look better, and it was great to see the Tigers play so well against the stronger teams in the division. This should give them confidence heading into their 3-game series against the Dragons starting Monday in Nagoya. The week ends early due to the All-Star Break, so let’s finish the first half strong! GO TIGERS!