This week was a short one because of the all-star break. The Tigers had just one 3-game series on the road against the Chunichi Dragons. It wasn’t long ago that they got humiliated by this very team and lost their tenuous hold on third place, falling out of the playoff picture for the first time all year. The Tigers in July are a different beast, folks.
They came out on Monday looking a little flat, allowing a huge lead early and falling easily, 8-4. Iwazaki, who had pitched well in his past few outings, struggled and did not even make it out of the second inning.
Young phenom Shintaro Fujinami took the mound on Tuesday and threw a whopping 143 pitches on his way to his first career complete game. The Tigers ran away with this one, 8-1, as Takashi Toritani hit a 3-run home run in the top of the first.
It was so important to finish the series strong, as the Giants and Carp were also playing good ball (against lousy teams) this week. Messenger brought his best stuff, scattering 3 hits over 8 innings and Oh Seung-hwan closed the game successfully and the Tigers won 2-0. Between the two imports, 15 of a possible 27 Dragons went down on strikes. Impressive indeed.
The Tigers gained just half a game on the Carp and failed to gain any ground on the Giants, but this week’s two wins gives them an 11-2 record this month! Here are the standings as of the end of play on July 16th:
Fujinami looked shaky in his two innings during the all-star game (allowing 4 earned runs), but Murton played strong, driving in two runs before leaving early. The week coming up should be a challenging one: we host the Giants for three and then travel to Hiroshima for a weekend series. If we can hold strong this week, we can end the month confidently against the lowly Swallows. GO TIGERS!