@ Dragons – June 27-29 – Silence of the Cats’ Bats

Life as a Hanshin Tigers fan has not been any fun lately. Since the bullpen meltdown on June 18 against the Eagles, the team has managed just three runs in three games, two of which came with the team down a dozen runs against the Carp (and neither was an RBI hit). Could they right the ship against the weak (but recently improving) Chunichi Dragons? Negative.

Game 67 – Tuesday 6/27. Wasted Chances, Lotsa Free Outs

Starting Pitchers: Takumi Akiyama (6-3) vs. Shota Suzuki (3-3)

Bottom 1: Akiyama was experimenting with a new pitching form and he didn’t seem to take to it very well, as the first two batters got hits and eventually one of them scored on a sacrifice fly. Hanshin 0, Chunichi 1

Bottom 4: The same man who brought a run home on a long fly ball did one better here with a big blast to the deepest part of the field. Hanshin 0, Chunichi 2

Top 7: Hanshin got just its third hit of the game here, as Ryutaro Umeno hit his second double of the game. Needing some offensive production, Hanshin pulled Akiyama for a pinch hitter here. (Akiyama’s final line: 6 IP, 71 TP, 4 H, 0 BB, 2 R, 4 K.) The Dragons pitchers had pity on our guys and walked three of the next four batters to bring home a run. Hanshin 1, Chunichi 2

Bottom 8: Akifumi Takahashi got two outs but also loaded the bases and left the game with the hopes that Kyuji Fujikawa could bail him out. Instead he plunked Guerrero, who collected his third RBI of the night.

Final Score: Chunichi 3, Hanshin 1. LP: Akiyama (6-4). Team Record: 37-30-0

Game 68 – Wednesday 6/28. Ono! Cruel Rookie Initiation Continues

Starting Pitchers: Taiki Ono (0-3) vs. Jordan Norberto (4-2)

Bottom 6: Ono was sailing along really well, but gave up a one-out walk. The stolen base attempt should have been a failure, but instead our second baseman failed to corral the throw, and the Dragon made it to third. He scored on the ensuing hit. Ono’s final line: 6 IP, 87 TP, 2 H, 2 BB, 1 R, 1 K. The last run of support Ono has gotten from his team was a solo home run by Umeno on June 12.

Final Score: Chunichi 1, Hanshin 0. LP: Ono (0-4). Team Record: 37-31-0

Game 69 – Thursday 6/29. Still No Support for Great Pitching

Starting Pitchers: Randy Messenger (7-3) vs. Yudai Ohno (1-5)

Bottom 1: Randy got himself into early trouble with four straight one-out hits to the heart of their order, including another RBI for Alex Guerrero. Hanshin 0, Chunichi 1

Bottom 7: With two outs and a runner on third, Yohei Ohshima hit a Texas leaguer to shallow left, extending the lead by one. Randy finished up the inning and called it a night. His line: 7 IP, 105 TP, 9 H, 1 BB, 2 R, 2 K.

Final Score: Chunichi 2, Hanshin 0. LP: Messenger (7-4). Team Record: 37-32-0

Season Series:  5 – 7 

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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.