First Shutout Loss of Season for Kanemoto’s Crew
Game 11 – Wednesday 4/6: You have the right to remain silent. Anything you do in this game
may or may will not pay dividends in the end. You have the right to sit back down on the bench. You have the right to put me on base 3 times. You have the right to go back to square one.
Somehow, despite a 1.18 ERA against the Hanshin Tigers last season, Tomoyuki Sugano managed to be served up a loss. He found a way to ensure that wouldn’t happen on Wednesday night. He went the distance, scattering seven hits and walking none, never allowing a runner past second base in completing his first career regular season complete game shutout at Tokyo Dome.
The Hanshin Tigers brought Minoru Iwata to the mound, and despite a strong start, he soon faltered in the fourth when a pair of grounders and a wild pitch led to a runner on third base. He was brought home on a sharp hit to right. Iwata put out the remaining fire, but fell into deeper doo-doo in the fifth.
A leadoff hit by Sugano was followed by a double and another RBI single up the middle. At last an out was recorded, but the bases were soon full after a walk to cleanup hitter Garrett Jones. Newly acquired Luis Cruz hit a grounder to second, resulting in another score, and once the inning was complete, Iwata’s night was over.
Iwata expressed remorse after the game, saying he was unable to remain in control of the game after “so easily” letting Sugano reach base in the fifth. (It should also be mentioned that Iwata’s misplay of Sugano’s pop-up bunt in the third led to a rough inning for Iwata.) The lefty hurler hopes to right his ship next week against the BayStars at home.
After the lead was increased, Sugano’s game found a higher gear, as the lone base runner in the final four frames came on a Takashi Toritani infield hit that, if fielded (and caught) properly, would have also been an out.
Perhaps the lone bright spot for the Tigers in this game was the superb play of the relief squad – Hiroaki Saiuchi, Akifumi Takahashi and Kazuyuki Kaneda each pitched a shutout inning, allowing no hits and two walks total.
The loss puts Hanshin back in the same spot it was in before this series began: 1.5 games out of first. However, a loss on Thursday could drop them as low as fourth, as the Hiroshima Carp and Chunichi Dragons are getting hot.