vs. Carp – August 15-17 – Few Signs of Life During Obon…

Obon is the time of year that people all across Japan return to their hometowns and pay their respects to their dead relatives/ancestors. Roughly 100,000 fans paid respect to the not-so-alive Hanshin Tigers at Kyocera Dome over the course of these past three days.

Game 104 – Tuesday 8/15. O NO! MEN, DEZ NOT GOOD!

Starting Pitchers: Taiki Ono (0-6) vs. Yusuke Nomura (7-4)

Just know that between the two of them, Ono and Roman Mendez (who has since been farmed) combined to allow 11 runs (9 earned) over just four innings. The Tigers tried to play catchup, and got a three-run home run from Kosuke Fukudome, but that was all she wrote.

Final Score: Hiroshima 11, Hanshin 6. LP: Ono (0-7). Team Record: 56-47-1

Game 105 – Wednesday 8/16. Fujinami Still Sucks

Starting Pitchers: Shintaro Fujinami (3-3) vs. Daichi Ohsera (7-1)

Just know that Fujinami is still the same uncontrolled pitcher he was before he got farmed back in May. (He got farmed after this one, because…) He walked five and beaned two (including Ohsera), but managed to give up only three runs in spite of 14 base runners over the course of his 14 recorded outs. Despite walking 5 and striking out 4, his K:BB ratio IMPROVED in this one.

The bats fought back once again, this time bringing the winning, walk-off hitter to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, but…

Final Score: Hiroshima 5, Hanshin 3. LP: Fujinami (3-4). Team Record: 56-48-1

Game 106 – Thursday 8/17. Barely Avoiding a Sweep

Starting Pitchers: Minoru Iwata (2-0) vs. Yuya Fukui (1-3)

Top 1: Iwata walked the leadoff guy, who stole second and then scored on a one-out single. Fortunately, he settled down for a good stretch after that. Hanshin 0, Hiroshima 1

Bottom 3: Fukui is not a good pitcher. He walked Seishiro Sakamoto on four pitches, then after getting two strikes on Iwata (who was trying to bunt the runner over), he walked our pitcher as well. Back-to-back singles from Fumiya Hojoh and Fukudome gave us our first lead of the series. Hanshin 2, Hiroshima 1

Bottom 5: Fukui is not a good pitcher. Once again he walked Iwata, then a couple of batters later, did the same to Hojoh. Fukudome laced a double down the right field line to cash in Iwata, and Jason Rogers hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Hojoh. Hanshin 4, Hiroshima 1

Top 6: Unfortunately, this is where the good pitching hit a brick wall for Iwata. Back-to-back hits were followed by a walk to load the bases with no outs. Suzuki hit a sacrifice fly to center for one run, then a wild pitch brought in another run. Iwata sat down with this line: 5.1 IP, 90 TP, 5 H, 3 BB, 3 K, 4 R — that fourth run came when reliever Kentaro Kuwahara gave up a single to Abe (the skinny Carp, not the fat Giant). Hanshin 4, Hiroshima 4

Things stayed this way thanks to some solid bullpen pitching from both teams, until…

Bottom 9: Pinch hitter and birthday boy Shunsuke led off the frame with a single to left and got bunted over to second. Tsuyoshi Nishioka got a semi-intentional walk, and Hojoh fouled off several pitches before hiting one through the left side of the infleld, but a drawn in outfield kept the birthday boy from scoring. Until Fukudome came up and hit a high fly ball to semi-deep center, that is. Good enough. Shunsuke slides into home while the throw skids wide of the base.

Final Score: Hanshin 5x. Hiroshima 4. WP: Rafael Dolis (2-3). Team Record: 57-48-1

Season Series:  9 (1) 10 

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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.