It seems like some weeks the Tigers get you excited for the playoffs, while others make you wonder if they even deserve to make it. This week had a little of both. Not terribly surprising when you go 2-2, winning in exciting fashion twice and losing badly to inferior opponents twice. This was supposed to be a week that we made a charge for first place. Instead, we lost the series to the Swallows and barely won the lone game against the Baystars.
In the first game, Iwata was outdueled by Yagi, who made the Tigers look weak and punchless without slugger Mauro Gomez in the lineup. The exact reason for his first missed game of the year was unclear, but it seems it was related to heat stroke or a fever of some sort. In any case, the Tigers lost 4-0 and needed to come up big in game 2 of the series.
For some reason, they decided to give Kazuhito Futagami his first start of the year, despite his track record so far being mediocre at best. Did you know the Swallows actually have the most potent offence in the Central League? Perhaps the Tigers didn’t, but they sure found out this week! Futagami got roughed up in the first four innings and actually did not record an out in the fourth when he was pulled with the Tigers down 3-1. Did I mention that the bases were loaded and there were no outs? It was looking quite grim until reliever Saiuchi came in, proceeded to strike out two batters before coaxing a grounder to second to end the threat with no further damage. The Tigers rewarded his bravery and excellent pitching by scoring four in the bottom of the inning (on an Imanari double and a Toritani single). The Tigers held on to win 5-4, though the ending was a little bit nerve-racking, as many Tigers games tend to be.
As reported earlier this week, the series finale was awful for the Tigers. They looked overmatched right from the second pitch. (The first was a groundout.) Read the article; it says all that needs to be said.
Needing to bounce back against the Baystars, once again the team came out flat, with Fujinami giving up a home run in the second. Fortunately, the team recorded back-to-back two-run innings in the third and fourth. However, Fujinami was kept in just a little too long, and he gave up a run in each the sixth and seventh innings. The game remained tied (despite closer Oh‘s best efforts to end it early), and something exciting happened in the tenth: with two outs and runners on first and third, Kosuke Fukudome, yes, he who is barely hitting .200 on the season, came up with his second walk-off hit in just over a week! Tigers win a close one, 5-4.
The weekend games were both rained out, so the Tigers ended the week earlier than expected.
Here is the week that was.
The week really could have gone better. The Giants and Carp kind of beat each other up and this was a good chance to gain some ground. Instead, the top of the standings looks similar to last week’s. Here are the standings as of the end of play on August 3rd:
Here are this week’s stat lines for our foreigners:
You can always look ahead at the weeks to come on the new calendar feature. This coming week, the Tigers head to Tokyo and try to avenge their series loss to the Swallows, and then play at Kyocera Dome against the Carp, as they hope to put a bit more distance between themselves and third place. GO TIGERS!