It was bad enough that the team lost two of three against the Hiroshima Carp earlier this week. The first game was a low-scoring affair, one that our starter dominated for six innings and our relievers held their boots on the jugulars of the CL leaders. But then came two humiliating defeats – falling behind 0-9 (yet again) on Tuesday before mounting a small comeback, and then seeing a tight game blow up in the game’s final two innings on Wednesday.
But even more distressing than falling further behind the Carp in the standings is that Hanshin will be without two of its starting fielders for the foreseeable future.
On Monday, outfielder Yoshio Itoi strained his right oblique muscle while swinging at a pitch in the fifth inning. The prognosis is six weeks before he is able to return to game action – so no sooner than September. Picture here. Video of the swing here.
Then on Wednesday night when the game was already well out of hand, rookie shortstop Kento Itohara found himself adjusting to a wind-blown high fly ball in shallow left, and as the ball landed in his glove (he would drop it, extending the team’s misery, but that’s beside the point), he stepped awkwardly with his right foot, twisting his knee. Turns out he has sprained his medial collateral ligament. His recovery timeline has not been drawn out, but he will likely be out of action for at least as long as Itoi. Pictures here. Video of the false step here.
So the good news about the return of Tsuyoshi Nishioka (2 RBIs in the series), plus the signing of Jason Rogers (2 RBIs on Tuesday), were supposed to boost the team’s morale and firepower. Instead, it looks like we’re just juggling positions a little. And hoping Rogers can get off to a solid start to help the team forget that it has lost its über expensive free agent.
With the team embarking on a month-long road trip starting July 28, the timing of these injuries couldn’t be any worse. Talk about adding injury to insult.