Opinion Piece: Why’d the Tigers Lose?

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When the baseball game ends in a loss, another game starts immediately following the last out. Why did we lose? Who fell short? The name of the game is “Find the Scapegoat.” After watching last night’s unfortunate loss to the first place Giants, it was easy to join in the game and look for the culprit.

Let’s look at the culprits:

1) Starting pitcher Atsushi Nohmi: He was the only Tigers pitcher to throw, and he earned a loss for it, so he is an obvious target. We have to mention the disaster of a ninth inning, in which he walked three hitters, gave up a hit to another, threw two wild pitches, and allowed two runners to steal second base. Clearly Nohmi was laboring the entire frame, and did not have enough gas in the tank. Ball after ball was in the dirt, and were it not for solid play by catcher Ryutaro Umeno, there would have been a couple more wild pitches. Nohmi threw well all game until that final inning, when his pitch count was getting high and his control was off. So perhaps the blame falls more accurately on…

2) Manager Yutaka Wada: This is a man who has been notorious for keeping pitchers in games too long all season. He did the same thing to Shintaro Fujinami a couple of starts ago, hoping to get a complete game out of his young ace, instead watching a comfortable lead get down to a single run. On one hand, I think it’s easy to blame the manager for holding on too long. But with a bullpen like the Tigers’, in which every guy has blown a game or two in the past two months, it is hard to have a lot of faith that they would have done any better. Let’s not forget the ninth inning could have ended a lot earlier if it weren’t for…

3) Second base umpire Shimada: With one out in the ninth and Giants speedster Naohiro Suzuki running on a pitch in the dirt by Nohmi, Umeno made a perfect throw to second for what would be the second out and a rally killer. The safe call that ensued was questionable, and eventually resulted in the game winning run for the Giants (two wild pitches later). Many a Tigers fan saw the baserunner as out, but the umpire said otherwise. Of course, none of this would have mattered if not for the anaemic hitting by…

4) The Tigers hitters: Take away the first inning in which they scored two runs on two hits (including Mauro Gomez‘s home run), and you got a grand total of 3 hits the rest of the way. Yes, they also got four men on board via walks and hit batsmen, but that is also part of the problem: they could not produce a single run despite seven base runners over the final eight innings.

THE VERDICT:

I’m going to be bold and say this one falls on the hitters. Even if the first three suspects had done their jobs properly (Nohmi did for 8 of 9 innings), the game still would have been a tie after nine. However, the hitters need to deliver more than five hits and two runs, especially against a formidable opponent.

Unfortunately that one run in the top of the ninth is the difference between the Tigers being just 0.5 behind the first-place Giants and the current reality of being 2.5 down. Either way, the Tigers have been impressive of late and have gained 4.5 games on first since the end of interleague play. Let’s keep it going, Tigers! The only game we want to think about after the final out is guessing who will be named Hero of the Game! GO TIGERS!

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4 Comments

    • Peter Gibson

      July 24, 2014

      Great summary of the game. I watched the whole game and thought to myself at the top of the 9th that Nohmi was running out of gas. I suppose the bright side is we had to have all that go wrong to lose. We are looking good but the bats just didn’t fire. Toritani was unusually off his game. Japanes Mgrs have such a habit of being so stoic when it comes to pulling the pitcher. One of the biggest cultural problems that the Tigers have had is sticking with the OB Kantoku’s. They haven’t really had a progressive Mgr since I can remember. Very stuck in their ways just to keep the conservative hierarchy happy. Off to Japan next week and looking forward to seeing the 3 games at the Dome (aka Death Star) against the “evil empire of darkness” then away at Yokohama before catching the game at Kyocera. August will make or break us. It was certainly one that got away last night and I kicked the cat. We are up there but we will need to step up a gear to beat Hiroshima and Giants consistently. Great report. Well done.

      Reply
      • T. Raichura

        July 24, 2014

        Thanks for the encouragement! I am actually a new fan, so I do not know a lot of the team’s history, particularly details about management and rosters. But surely, you make some very strong points about Japanese management and the employment of former players.

        That is so awesome that you are able to come to Japan and take in so many games!

        I tend to agree with you about August making or breaking the team… June was so terrible, and July has been so good. They almost balance each other out. But what will they do when the season grinds on and every game means gaining ground or falling further behind? Let’s see what happens! By the way, I will likely be at one of the games next week, but that might be it for me until September – I have a busy August!

        Reply
    • GG

      July 26, 2014

      deinitely a problem with the hitting in that game, but a tie would have been preferable to a loss.
      managers exist to make personnel decisions like pulling a pitcher when things look bad, and this management did not do that. they instead waited for the game to be lost before acting. when the hitting is as nonexistent as it was that night, you have to work to hold the tie and not expect to be able to come back with runs in the final inning. bad calls will happen and nomi did what he was asked. i place the loss squarely on wada for allowing nomi to fail like that.

      last night’s game was far more inspiring, as far as i could tell (not on broadcast tv or tora-tele -i was “watching” on yahoo sportsnavi).

      Reply
      • T. Raichura

        July 26, 2014

        Good call. I do think Wada was being bull-headed by keeping Nohmi in as long as he did. Actually I have kind of grown numb to his poor decision making. At least he had the sense to pull Fujinami after six last night. You’re definitely right – a tie is better than a loss, particularly against the one team standing between us and the division lead.

        Last night’s game was pretty fun to watch, although I did not feel the Tigers played a particularly strong game. They had a bit of bad luck (Murton got thrown out running twice, neither of them really his fault) and some well-timed hits, but they really did not generate too many chances. Enough to win, though, I suppose!

        Reply

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