Climax Series First Stage, Game 3 – Finishing 2017 Feebly

See Recaps of Game 1 here, and Game 2 here.

The Kansai area got way too much rain for baseball to have been played on Sunday or Monday. But due to poor scheduling plans, one of those days had a historically muddy game. After Monday night off, the teams played a winner-takes-all matchup on Tuesday. The winners would punch their tickets to Hiroshima and play the Carp starting Wednesday.

October 17, 2017. 6:00 pm. Hanshin Koshien Stadium

Starting Pitchers: Atsushi Nohmi (6-6, 3.72 ERA) vs. Joe Wieland (10-2, 2.98 ERA)

Top 1: You could read this paragraph and it would be all you need to know. Nohmi didn’t have it on this night. Walked the leadoff guy. Gave up back-to-back singles, the second of which opened the scoring. Walked the next guy. Needed a nice grab by Takashi Toritani at third to get a force out at home and record his lone out (!) of the night. Catcher Minei knocked in two guys with a single, then another singled loaded the bases, and Nohmi hit the proverbial showers, because he STUNK. His line, ladies and gentlemen: 0.1 IP, 37 TP, 4 H, 2 BB, 3 R, 0 K. Lucky for him, Tsuyoshi Ishizaki patched things up, otherwise that line would have been uglier. Hanshin 0, Yokohama 3

Bottom 1: There was no fight in our bats, and only Yoshio Itoi‘s keen eyes prevented this from being a 1-2-3 inning.

Top 2: Ishizaki danced around a one-out walk to retire the side.

Bottom 2: Toritani got the team its first hit of the night, an infield single to second, but Yamato the Lefty (and now free agent, by the way) grounded into a double play and was replaced one inning later.

Top 3: Ishizaki continued his solid relief efforts with another clean inning, this one including a single and a couple of strikeouts. His line: 2.2 IP, 43 TP, 1 H, 1 BB, 0 R, 3 K.

Bottom 3: In and out of the batters’ box, and if you blinked, you missed this half inning.

Top 4: Suguru Iwazaki came in to try to sit down the top of the order, but instead they tacked on a few more runs. Double, charity out (bunt), RBI single, 2-run home run for Jose Lopez – his second all year against the Tigers, but one that certainly took the last breeze out of the Tigers sails. Iwazaki stayed in to get out of the inning, which he did quite quickly, and ended with this ugly set of numbers: 1 IP, 22 TP, 3 H, 0 BB, 3 R, 0 K. Hanshin 0, Yokohama 6

Bottom 4: A couple of singles (Hiroki Uemoto leadoff and Yusuke Ohyama with two outs) got us our first runner in scoring position, but on this night, Toritani was not hero.

Top 5: Whiff, can o’ corn, whiff! Kyuji Fujikawa got in a quick inning of work and took his seat in the dugout. 1 IP, 11 TP, 0 H, 0 BB, 0 R, 2 K.

Bottom 5: Little Kai Ueda made a case for himself to get more playing time next year, leading off the inning with a pinch hit double, but the rest of the boys left him pinned there. Grounder, foul fly, fly.

Top 6: Ready for a little excitement? The crowd sure was. Surprise of surprises, Shintaro Fujinami stepped on the Koshien mound! And he didn’t fall apart! The young former phenom drew loads of applause from the home crowd, eager to cheer for anything, and he rewarded them with a quick, clean inning – two grounders and a strikeout.

Bottom 6: The bats finally put together two hits that resulted in a run! Kosuke Fukudome‘s two-out double was followed by an RBI single by Ohyama. Hanshin 1, Yokohama 6

Top 7: Though Fujinami allowed a leadoff single to Lopez, he duplicated his previous inning after that: grounder, grounder, K. His line: 2 IP, 28 TP, 1 H, 0 BB (!), 0 HBP (!), 0 R, 2 K.

Bottom 7: Two outs into the inning, Kento Itohara poked a single into the outfield. And that’s where it ended.

Top 8: Akifumi Takahashi took over, working around a leadoff hit. The ‘Stars bunted the guy over, and Takahashi took that out and ran with it. Sat down the next two guys on strikes. 1 IP, 12 TP, 1 H, 0 BB, 0 R, 2 K.

Bottom 8: Uemoto got his second hit of the game, but the grounder machine was in fine form the rest of the inning. The end.

Top 9: Rafael Dolis got the call for the final inning of the season. He impressed, as always. 1 IP, 17 TP, 0 H, 0 BB, 0 R, 2 K.

Bottom 9: The end. More analysis to come in a separate article.

Final Score:  1-6 

WP: Wieland. LP: Nohmi

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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.