vs. BayStars – September 24-25 – Knock, Knock. No One Home

The Tigers are about as close as you can get to clinching a playoff spot. In fact, just a couple of wins and/or a couple of losses by both the Yokohama BayStars and Yomiuri Giants would lock up second place and the chance to host the First Stage of the Climax Series. Naturally, it would seem to be better to face the ‘Stars than the Giants in that playoff round. Which leaves these Tigers in a bit of a tough place: do they let the BayStars win most of the next five games, or do they play them tough and hope the Giants lose to their (weaker) opponents? I’ve heard of letting the other team win, but failing to put up a single run in those games? That’s going a little too far, Hanshin.

Game 135 – Sunday 9/24. One Sad Pitching Inning, Several Bad Hitting Frames

Starting Pitchers: Yuta Iwasada (4-9) vs. Shota Imanaga (10-7)

Top 1: All sorts of mess. Out, walk, double, run-scoring grounder, double, walk, strikeout to end the inning. Still, the team falls into a Hanshin 0, Yokohama 2 hole.

That is all. Yamato grounded into two inning-ending double plays (2nd and 4th innings), Hayata Itoh popped out to short with the bases loaded (7th), and Yoshio Itoi grounded out to pitcher with two men on (8th). The only good news is that the pitchers, including Iwasada (6 IP, 81 TP, 5 H, 3 BB, 2 R, 5 K), held the visitors off the board the rest of the way.

Final Score: Yokohama 2, Hanshin 0. LP: Iwasada (4-10). Team Record: 73-59-3

Game 136 – Monday 9/25. The Day Nothing Went Well

Starting Pitchers: Minoru Iwata (2-1) vs. Joe Wieland (8-2)

No need for you to know the details. Iwata gave up a hit to their pitcher, and on a poor defensive play two batters later, the scoreless tie was broken. Two relievers gave up home runs. The bats produced minimally. Three guys reached second base all night, two of those thanks to stolen bases. No extra base hits, no one reached third base.

This marked the third straight game at Koshien in which the Tigers failed to put a run up on the board – a first for the club in the 21st century. If the Tigers don’t win two of three in Yokohama, the danger of losing second place is real.

Final Score: Yokohama 7, Hanshin 0. LP: Iwata (2-2). Team Record: 73-60-3

Season Series:  13 – 9 

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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.