Another week, another .500 record. After wasting a chance to gain ground by losing 2 of 3 to the Swallows last week, the Tigers repeated the feat again this week. They then took the first two against the Carp in convincing fashion, but fell way short in the series finale.
You would have thought this was football if you checked the final score of Game 1. Collecting 23 hits, including four home runs (ending a 7-game team drought), the Tigers blew out the Swallows 20-11. If you have the time to watch a real hit parade, check out this video:
Typical Tigers, a game after hitting everything in sight, they struggled in the second game, losing 7-6 (three of those runs in the top of the 9th). Iwata, who had just won Central League Player of the Month, gave up 11 hits (including a bomb to Balentien), and the Tigers’ come-from-behind effort fell just short.
The series quickly unraveled as three young pitchers (starter Saiuchi and relievers Enokida and Takamiya) combined to allow 13 runs in a blowout loss. All three pitchers were sent down to the minors after the game. The lone bright spot for the Tigers was slugger Matt Murton, who made each plate appearance count (3 hits, a walk and a sacrifice fly). Swallows 13, Tigers 4.
The road trip was interrupted by a 3-game series “at home” in Kyocera Dome. Thankfully, the games went on despite a weekend of rain in the Kansai region. The Tigers came out playing strong, as Fujinami combined with two relievers to shut down the Carp. Poor defense by second baseman Uemoto accounted for two of the three runs Fujinami allowed, and the Tigers rolled, 7-5. The game was only close because the relievers continued to have a rough week. Fukuhara gave up two in the eighth, but Oh clamped down with a 4-out save.
The second game saw Atsushi Nohmi redeeming himself, throwing seven innings of one-run ball. Again, the bullpen coughed up a truckload of runs, and the Tigers squeaked by, 5-4.
As the Tigers seem to like doing, they brought in a rookie starter for the third (crucial) game. Yuta Iwasada had never pitched for the big-league team, and his nerves got the best of him as he gave up 4 runs in 4 innings. The Tigers never managed to catch up, although their attempt was snuffed out by the relief crew once again. What looked like an exciting finish got ugly in the eighth, and the Tigers eventually succumbed 7-3.
Here is the week that was.
As has been the case much of the year, the Tigers got their fans excited and ready for a run at first. Then Sunday happened. Still, we moved a game closer to the Giants. One can only wonder how the week had turned out if the relievers had not given up 19 runs in 20 innings of work. (It’s worth noting, though, that the losing pitchers were all starters.) Here are the standings as of the end of play on August 10th:
Here are this week’s stat lines for our foreigners:
This week on the calendar, we have a 3-game set against the Giants, followed by another against the Baystars. Both series give us a great chance to take first place! GO TIGERS!