Tori’s Home Run / Conversations After Broken Nose – Eldest Son: “Again???”
Perhaps the Kansai Derby needs to be renamed after last night’s drubbing. Hanshin found a way to sully the perfect 6-0 Interleague record that the Orix Buffaloes brought into Tuesday night’s action. Behind 0-2 in the third inning, Hanshin got 3 runs back, and then with two outs and runners on first and second, infielder Takashi Toritani hit a 3-run home run, his second of the year. The long ball put the game out of reach, but also gave Toritani top spot on the list of all-time hits in Interleague play with 305. Hanshin went through the entire batting order in both the third and sixth innings, and put up 11 runs, more than they have ever scored in a single game against the Buffaloes. Game 1 of the Kansai Derby goes to the Tigers.
One wouldn’t be blamed if one has already forgotten the nightmare of just 13 days ago. Toritani was swinging with such force that you wouldn’t think he had just broken his nose. Having just taken the lead away from Orix, Toritani swatted Chihiro Kaneko’s 142 km/h fastball as though flicking a game piece out of his way. It barely cleared the right field wall, but gave Hanshin an instant 4-run cushion.
“That likely would have been an out at Koshien, so I consider myself pretty lucky.” The 3-run home run, his second long ball of the season, would give him sole possession of top spot on the all-time Interleague hit list with 305. “Whatever. Once I retire, someone else will break the record, no doubt.” He might have been flippant in his answer, but he clearly had a look of satisfaction on his face as he helped put an end to Orix’s 7-game winning streak.
On May 24th against the Yomiuri Giants, lefty Mitsuru Yoshikawa’s fastball hit him squarely in the face, breaking his nose in two places. “My nose is broken,” he explained to his wife on the phone from a hospital in Amagasaki. One might assume his kids were crying and worried about their father, but ToritanI says, “Not even for a second!”
His eldest daughter, a first grader, asked him innocently, “How can such a little ball break your nose just from hitting you?” His eldest son, who’s in the fifth grade, simply said, “Again???” The kids know how tough their father is. Broken hip bone, broken ribs, through it all he’s still gone out and played in every game. Yep, daddy’s a tough guy.
The team scored 11 runs on 11 hits, winning their third straight. First place Hiroshima held on to their one-game lead. Said manager Tomoaki Kanemoto, “They had their ace on the mound. It’s not easy to score runs in games like this… So Tori’s 3-run home run and Yoshio Itoi’s RBI in the sixth were huge.” The young guys get things started, and the veterans come through. Right now, the Tigers are firing on all cylinders.