vs. Dragons – July 11-12 – June Sweep Avenged w/Mini-Sweep

After a humiliating series sweep at the hands of these young upstart Dragons, Hanshin needed to get their revenge by winning their final two games before heading in to the all-star break. And although Nagoya’s boys came to Kansai on a two-game losing streak, they saved two left-handed import pitchers (against whom Hanshin has had little success so far this year) for this important mini-series.


Game 78 – Tuesday 7/11. Lethal Weapon 4 in Okayama

Starting Pitchers: Randy Messenger (7-5) vs. Jordan Norberto (6-2)

Top 1: The Dragons used their quick legs (shallow hit turned into a double) and a lucky hit (jammed but muscled into shallow right) to put the game’s first run on the board. Hanshin 0, Chunichi 1

Bottom 2: The tying run was a bit of an awkward one. Masahiro Nakatani reached base on an error, advanced to second on a balk, to third on a grounder, and crossed home on a second balk. Still, a run’s a run. Hanshin 1, Chunichi 1

Bottom 3: Vintage HirokiLethal UeponUemoto. He battled off countless pitches before taking an 11th pitch, full-count fastball over the left field wall.

Yoshio Itoi hit one up the middle to get on base for Kosuke Fukudome‘s first home run since he was in his thirties (exaggeration, but it feels like ages – pun intended). Hanshin 4, Chunichi 1

Bottom 4: It took two pitches from the Dragons reliever to get an out but also have a runner on second base. The old single + bunt with the pitcher coming up to the plate next. Randy only advanced the runner to third, but a couple of batters later (Takashi Toritani took a pitch off the shin guard, and grinned on his way to first, thinking, “That doesn’t hurt nearly as much as being drilled in the nose!”) Uepon struck again, with a single to right. Hanshin 5, Chunichi 1

Bottom 5: Fukudome and Nakatani hit themselves into scoring position, and Yusuke Ohyama brought them home with a double off the wall. Then Ryutaro Umeno doubled to the gap, as did Randy, and then Uepon brought in a run with a double of his own. It was his fourth hit of the night, and he was given the rest of the evening off. Hanshin 10, Chunichi 1

Top 7: Randy worked around a two-out single to complete his start with one of his best lines since May. His line: 7 IP, 110 TP, 9 H, 0 BB, 1 R, 6 K. Some of the hits were cheap, some were lucky, but this one never felt like it was out of his control.

Final Score: Hanshin 10, Chunichi 1. WP: Messenger (8-5). Team Record: 42-36-0


Game 79 – Wednesday 7/12. Yamato Triples Season RBI Total!

Starting Pitchers: Takumi Akiyama (7-4) vs. Raul Valdes (5-5)

Top 1: It didn’t take long for this battle between two all-star pitchers to turn into a bloodbath. After shaking off his catcher, Akiyama served up a two-out, two-run home run to this season’s king of the bomb, Alex Guerrero. Hanshin 0, Chunichi 2

Bottom 2: Fumihito Haraguchi took one for the team (doesn’t he do this a little too often?) and advanced to second on an Ohyama grounder. Little Yamato made sure the beaning was worth the bruise, as he hit a double down the left field line, easily scoring Haraguchi. Hanshin 1, Chunichi 2

Top 6: Akiyama settled in nicely after his mistake in the first… until he made another similar mistake here, this time to little Yohei Ohshima, whose knock made connection with the right field pole. This was all for Akiyama, whose line looked like this: 6 IP, 82 TP. 4 H, 0 BB, 1 HBP, 4 R, 5 K. Hanshin 1, Chunichi 4

Bottom 6: Uemoto continued to swing the hot stick, and Itoi followed up with a single of his own, putting runners on the corners for Nakatani. He lunged at a low-and-away pitch and lifted it over the shortstop’s head into shallow left. A couple of batters later, lo and behold, Yamato’s turn came up again, and once again he didn’t disappoint. His single to right evened the score. Hanshin 4, Chunichi 4

Top 7: Kentaro Kuwahara continued his world dominance.

Top 8: Marcos Mateo got two quick outs, then allowed two quick hits, but got Guerrero to swing at his nasty stuff to end the threat.

Bottom 8: Nakatani led off with a single to left, advanced to second on Umeno’s bunt, and then it was Yamato time once again – this time from the left side of the plate. He sliced one over third base, just fair, and it had enough on it to get Nakatani around the bags. Hanshin 5, Chunichi 4

Top 9: Rafael Dolis made a nice play to get the first out, shoveling the ball to first with his glove. Uemoto made an outstanding play for the second out, and for the third out, Dolis induced a grounder to Yamato. Series won.

Final Score: Hanshin 5, Chunichi 4. WP: Mateo (6-2). SV: Dolis (23). Team Record: 43-36-0


Season Series:  7 – 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.

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