After two embarrassing losses at the hands of the Yakult Swallows, the Tigers needed a big two-game series at home before hitting the road on the weekend. Their opponents thoroughly humiliated them last time at Koshien, and revenge was on their minds. Could they turn the tables on their most bitter rivals?
Game 38 – Tuesday, 5/10: The rain came down all day, and this one was called off well before the scheduled 6:00 pm starting time. It would have to be rescheduled for September sometime. Bummer because I had tickets to this one.
Game 38 – Wednesday, 5/11: Last time against this club, Randy Messenger really only made one mistake that hurt him – a home run to shortstop Sakamoto. He got the mistake out of the way early in this one, and fortunately for him it was a solo shot this time, in the top of the first. Unfortunately, the last time the Tigers faced this pitcher, they could not muster any offense. After a leadoff single by Shun Takayama (which was later nullified on a failed steal attempt), the bats went silent for six whole innings.
In the meantime, Messenger ran into a little trouble in the third. A two-out single to center appeared to give the Giants another run. But wait! Yamato is playing center! His throw home was in time and nearly on the money, but it forced catcher Fumihito Haraguchi back from his position in front of the dish. He appeared to be behind home when he applied the tag. Three outs! Game remains 1-0! Or so we thought. After a commercial break it was revealed that the umpires were reviewing the play. Catcher interference. Call reversed. Two outs still, 2-0. Kanemoto comes out to argue. Looks ready to knock the ump out. Walks back to the dugout, clearly frustrated. Our rattled pitcher allows another run before escaping the inning.
Back to the action. It’s now the bottom of the seventh, and Yamato leads off the inning with a single to right center. Kosuke Fukudome battles through a long at-bat to get a single to right. Mauro Gomez fights off a 1-2 count and eventually walks to load the bases. Still no outs! Taguchi out, Mathieson in. Gucci (Haraguchi) steps up, falls behind 1-2 but works the count and brings home the first run on a walk. Bases still loaded! Takashi Toritani up with a chance to be the hero. He feebly grounds out to Mathieson, who starts the 1-2-3 double play. For some reason, Kanemoto goes with pinch hitter Hiroki Uemoto here – and one hit will tie it. That hit never comes. Strikeout. Inning over.
Essentially, game over. No Tiger managed a hit the rest of the way. Valiant effort, but a terrible call by the umps and the inability to truly capitalize on a golden opportunity did the team in.
Final Score: Giants 3, Tigers 1.