Climax Series First Stage Game 2 – Blown Out in the Rain

In Game 1 of the first round of the 2014 Climax Series, Randy Messenger pitched six shutout innings and got support via a home run by Kosuke Fukudome in the sixth. In Game 1 of the 2017… (same as last sentence). You probably remember that 2014 is the last time these Tigers found themselves playing in the Nippon Series. So the question now was, could the team tie or win to move on to the next round with the hopes of reaching the big dance again this year? Here’s how Game 2 action went down:

October 15, 2017. 3:03 pm. Hanshin Koshien Stadium

Starting Pitchers: Takumi Akiyama (12-6, 2.99 ERA) vs. Shota Imanaga (11-7, 2.98 ERA)

Top 1: After over an hour of delay, this one got underway while the rains continued to fall. Akiyama was helped by Yamato on the first ball in play, then struck out Kajitani and induced a fly out to left to end the inning.

Bottom 1: Hanshin got the game’s first base runner when Yoshio Itoi drew a two-out walk, but that was all.

Top 2: Tsutsugoh led off with a single to right, which was followed by a Miyazaki single to right. Fortunately, Akiyama shut the door on them after that, getting an infield fly and two grounders to escape the jam. The rains continued, and surprisingly, so did the game.

Bottom 2: Yusuke Ohyama and Takashi Toritani copied their hitters in the top of the inning, and Ryutaro Umeno walked with one out. With the bases juiced and two outs, Shunsuke lashed a ball into right center, which Kuwahara bobbled. Two runs scored. That was all, but for now, that was enough. Hanshin 2, Yokohama 0

Top 3: One-upped. Kuramoto poked a single into an empty pocket and Kuwahara doubled to center. Then with one out, Lopez brought them both home with a hit up the middle. Two quick outs after that kept the score tied. Perhaps due to the rain, Akiyama’s day ended here: 3 IP, 62 TP, 5 H, 0 BB, 2 R, 3 K. Hanshin 2, Yokohama 2

Bottom 3: Back-to-back strikeouts to our veteran lefties left the bases vacant for our rookie first baseman. He made right by putting one into the left field seats. Hanshin 3, Yokohama 2

Top 4: Suguru Iwazaki struck out the first batter he faced, got a groundout to the second, and then sat the third down on strikes, too.

Bottom 4: They also took their starter, Imanaga out. On one hand, that’s good news because he had been so dominant against us this year prior to this game. On the other, it was nice to score 3 runs on him in 3 innings. The rain mostly let up at this stage, though the field was still a swamp. Yamato had a somewhat long at bat but it ended with a single to left. Umeno bunted him over to second, and Iwazaki bunted him over to third. And that’s where he stayed.

Top 5: Iwazaki came back and struck out the first guy he faced, but then gave up a walk and a single in succession. The rains started to pick up again, and that was it for ‘Zaki. Hit the bench, son: 1 IP, 30 TP, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 R, 3 K because… Tsuyoshi Ishizaki gave up the tying run (goes on Iwazaki’s tab) on a sacrifice fly by Lopez. Tsutsugoh followed that with a single to put men on the corners for Miyazaki. The ‘Zaki-‘Zaki matchup went to the leading hitter in the CL, and the ‘Stars took the lead for the first time on the day. Ishizaki left without a run on his tab, but he couldn’t protect the lead. 0.1 IP, 14 TP, 2 H, 0 BB, 0 R, 0 K. Akifumi Takahashi came in and the fifth inning mercifully came to an end. Hanshin 3, Yokohama 4.

Bottom 5: Three up and three down.

Top 6: Takahashi got into a bit of trouble but held fort.

Bottom 6: Ohyama led off with a double down the rain-soaked first baseline. Toritani walked. Yamato bunted them both into scoring position. Umeno squeezed home the tying run! Hanshin 4, Yokohama 4.

Top 7: Kentaro Kuwahara. Oh boy. Well, some of it was rain and bad field conditions, but… infield hit + error, hit, RBI single, fly out, Otosaka pinch hit 3-run home run, hit, hit, RBI hit. Then he left. 0.1 IP, 29 TP, 7 H, 0 BB, 6 R, 0 K. Kyuji Fujikawa came in and allowed another run on a sacrifice fly, and then at long last, the inning was over. But the damage was more than done. Hanshin 4, Yokohama 10.

Bottom 7: Hiroki Uemoto led off with a hit, and then Itoi got hit. An out later, Ohyama continued his stellar game. Double off the top of the center field wall. Two runs score! Hanshin 6, Yokohama 10

Top 8: Kyuji kept the BayStars at bay, allowing a hit but that was all. He ended with 1.2 IP, 22 TP, 1 H, 0 BB, 0 R, 2 K.

Bottom 8: Thought pinch hitter Kento Itohara got on board with a single, that was all the Tigers could muster.

Top 9: You don’t want to know. Marcos Mateo and his slider were not working at all, and the deficit nearly doubled. 1 IP, 35 TP, 4 H, 1 BB, 3 R, 2 K. Hanshin 6, Yokohama 13

Bottom 9: We got a Kosuke Fukudome one-out single but all that did was give us double digits in hits. To their 21. Series tied and going to a third game tomorrow or Tuesday, depending on which the weather (or rule makers) will allow.

Final Score:  6-13 

WP: Mikami. LP: Kuwahara

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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.