This was a week to be forgotten, particularly this past series against the Dragons. The men in black put a measly 2 runs up in three games, and never held a lead the whole 27 innings. Without going into too much detail, the hitters could not do anything right when runners were on base. Hitting miscues, running miscues, untimely double plays… you name it, the Tigers did it wrong in this past series. The two shutouts bring their season total to 11, a disturbing number. The only bright spot is that the Giants and Carp both lost tonight, meaning the damage was minimized slightly. Still, a few wins would have put us right back in the thick of things.
Looking back at the start of the week, I wrote a short article about Randy Messenger, Mr. September. He started his outing against the DeNA Baystars by issuing 4 walks and allowing three runs in the first inning, two of which came on bases-loaded walks. So much for the sparkling September ERA, I thought. Clearly he was rattled by some close calls on balls and strikes, and it almost looked like he would get himself thrown out of the game. However, he backed off and the umpire did not take exception to his words, whatever they were. Then something amazing happened. The man settled down nicely, finishing the eighth inning without allowing another runner to score. He also struck out 12 in the game, breaking the Tigers’ single season record for strikeouts by a foreign pitcher. He sits at 201 on the year, and that number will only get bigger as he is projected to start twice next week and probably 2-3 more times the remainder of the way. Anyways, he left the game down a run. Toritani struck out to start the bottom of the ninth, then Gomez singled, Murton doubled and suddenly the game winning run was standing at second with only one out. The Baystars elected to walk Fukudome and instead pitch to Imanari, who had already struck out three times in the game. He redeemed himself with his final at bat, hitting a ball to left. The throw home to get Murton was on time, but the tag was not applied before Murton’s leg touched home plate. 4-3 Tigers, and the week was off to a great start!
That was pretty much the highlight of the week, though, and was only duplicated when Uemoto repeated the feat on Thursday, having struck out three times prior, then knocking in the winning two runs in the sixth.
Here is a calendar look at this week’s results.
The Tigers have a lot of ground to make up on both the Carp and the Giants. They gained no ground on the Carp this week, and lost another two games on the Giants. These are the current standings (right up to the minute, as the Sunday evening games are coming to an end!):
The stats line for the imports is unavailable this week, but here is a basic summary. As mentioned earlier, Messenger went 8 strong (well, 7 strong out of 8) and struck out 12 on Tuesday, but did not get the win. Seung-hwan Oh earned a save on Thursday, mowing down the three batters he faced. Gomez hit a couple of home runs, now has the league lead in RBIs, but got kicked out of today’s game. Murton hit fairly well, but got caught stealing once and was thrown out at home after another “delayed steal” attempt.
Next week is crucial. Without a sweep of both the Giants and Carp, the Tigers’ chances of winning the division all but disappear. Here’s to hoping they can pull off a perfect 6-0 week! GO TIGERS!