@ BayStars – May 12-14 – Another Rain-Aided Sweep!

Yokohama BayStars manager Alex Ramirez said at the start of the season that he thought the Hanshin Tigers would be a tough opponent. Apparently he knew what he was saying. Hanshin came into this series winning 3 of 4 against last year’s feel-good story team. Both of the series featured a rainout on day 2 of the set. This one was no different. And the results of the games, too, were pretty much what we’ve come to expect out of this matchup so far this year.

Game 33 – Friday 5/12. Mess Cruises, Trio Crushes

Starting Pitchers: Randy Messenger (4-0) vs. Shoichi Inoh (1-2)

It took awhile for anyone to get on board in this one, though there were hits in every frame except the bottom of the third.

Top 4: With two outs, Masahiro Nakatani legged out an infield single up the middle, and Takashi Toritani (RBIs in 5 straight games now) doubled him home with a poke to left center. Hanshin 1, Yokohama 0

Bottom 4: The bread in Tsutsugoh’s infield pop-up sandwich consisted of doubles by Lopez and Miyazaki. Hanshin 1, Yokohama 1

Top 6: Nakatani ripped one into the left field stands for the second consecutive game. This one, just like the last one, was a solo job. Hanshin 2, Yokohama 1

Top 8: Joining the bombing parade was veteran Kosuke Fukudome, who claimed the team lead with his fifth home run of the year. Two batters later, Takashi Toritani ripped his first jack of the year into the right field stands. With the outcome of the game a little safer, this brought an end to Randy’s night on the mound. His final line: 7 IP, 9 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 9 K. Hanshin 4, Yokohama 1

Bottom 9: Rafael Dolis allowed an extra-base hit, but the fool who hit it thought he could stretch it to three bases, and was gunned down by the fielders. No damage done.

Final Score: Hanshin 4, Yokohama 1. WP: Messenger (5-0). SV: Dolis (14). Team Record: 21-12-0

Game 34 – Saturday 5/13. Rain Wipes Out Another Fujinami Start

Starting Pitchers: Shintaro Fujinami (3-1) vs. Shota Imanaga (1-2)

Game 34, Take 2 – Sunday 5/14. Hard-Fought Late Game Win

Starting Pitchers: Shintaro Fujinami (3-1) vs. Shota Imanaga (1-2)

Bottom 1: In true Fujinami fashion, this one started out with a walk. In true Hanshin fashion, the infield committed an error. (It went to usually the impeccable Yamato, mind you.) Then Lopez made them pay with a 2-RBI single. Fujinami escaped further damage despite walking another batter. Hanshin 0, Yokohama 2

Top 2: Back-to-back doubles by Fumihito Haraguchi and Toritani narrowed the deficit to one, and a wild pitch later, Fumiya Hojoh hit a fly ball deep enough to score Toritani from third. Hanshin 2, Yokohama 2.

Bottom 3: Fujinami put himself in a WBC extra innings scenario by putting runners on first and second and with no outs. He got out unscathed, though, mowing down the heart of the BayStars order. Still tied.

Bottom 7: Fujinami walked his fifth guy of the game, but got a big help when Ryutaro Umeno threw a dagger to second, snuffing out the stolen base attempt. Final line: 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 4 K.

Bottom 8: Marcos Mateo entered the game and without breaking a sweat, sat back down after recording three quick outs – all against the meat of their order.

Top 9: Batting lefty, Yamato slashed a ball into shallow left field to get himself on base. Yoshio Itoi took a free pass to add a little pressure to the situation, and Fukudome made BayStars closer Patton pay with a hard-hit RBI single to right. A couple of batters later, pinch hitter Kento Itohara hit one up the middle with the bases juiced to give Hanshin an insurance run.

Bottom 9: Nothin’ doin’ here. Just more of Dolis being a bullpen rock star.

Final Score: Hanshin 4, Yokohama 2. WP: Mateo (3-0). SV: Dolis (15)  Team Record: 22-12-0 

Season Series:  5 – 1 

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T-Ray is the founder, chief writer and Junior Executive Vice President of Hanshin Tigers English News (H-TEN). Find him on Twitter @thehanshintiger.