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July 25th Fujinami v Maeda - A satisfactory affair

Discussion in the Tiger Tails forum
July 25th Fujinami v Maeda - A satisfactory affair
Trevor Raichura ( produced a rather comprehensive analysis of the Tigers third game against the Giants which is well worth reading. I do feel though that it is missing one important factor - the opposition. Trevor eventually concludes that the hitting was the issue in Game 3. I am not convinced - the Giants can be said to be the Tigers greatest rivals. They had lost two tight games on the trot at Koshien and to be swept would have been a humiliation and it would have brought their rivals very close in the table. The Giants were even more keyed up than usual to avoid losing. Given that pitching is the most important factor in baseball then a good pitching performance is going to restrict a very good offense and Tigers offense is good. It is not quite as good as the 2005 Tigers offense which is probably the best offense in recent years in Japan but even that offense could be stifled and contained. Giants had a good pitching performance that evening and were able to hold the Tigers offense very successfully. Nohmi coupled with Umeno as catcher was also doing well in holding a very good offense in check. He gave up two runs but his side had delivered two runs and the game was tied. However, the effort involved had been phenomenal. Nohmi is a slim pitcher who relies on his body motion to generate velocity. It works well but cannot be overused. Under Mayumi and Wada though (ignoramuses who don't understand pitching management) he has been asked to throw too many pitches. In one hero interview in Wada's first year Nohmi mentioned that he was tired. Japanese pitchers tend to understate their actual condition so Nohmi was saying he was exhausted. Wada hasn't the experience or intelligence to understand the limitations of pitchers and continued to overpitch Nohmi. Nohmi is tiring easily and is putting more effort into his pitching. However, he is hitting the wall all too frequently nowadays - basically the limit beyond which he is unable to go and because he is a more delicate individual this is happening sooner.
A manager needs to be aware of this but Wada lacks this awareness. His pitching coach Nakanishi is a amateur ignoramus who has no ability to handle anything resembling talent. So the Tigers situation is that starters are expected to go deep. Their current ability to do so is ignored. Nohmi had to be pulled early in two games with the pathetic catcher Fujii because he was overpitched. This was a warning sign but ignored by Wada because when a better catcher is used the performance improves. This leads Wada to believe that the pitcher can go deeper when in fact the pitcher is working well within the limits he currently has. A poor amateur manager fails to take account of the actual situation and looks at surface information. Wada falls into this pattern. Nohmi pitched his heart out over eight innings against the Giants - he had nothing left for the ninth. Wada should have switched to the relief but being amateur and with an amateur pitching coach was unable to notice the actuality. Physically it was impossible for Nohmi to do anymore. It has been a feature of Tigers amateur coaches to overuse pitchers. Scott Atchison pitched superbly for Tigers in 2008 but being overused rejected a contract extension in 2009 and returned to America. Blaine Boyer actually complained about being overpitched in 2013 and despite being a nice middle reliever (2.67 ERA) was not asked back for the next season. Tigers pitching management is pathetic. The relief is misused and if they fail they are sidelined. Any failure means you don't pitch the next match and the following matches. This does not encourage the pitchers to take risks and does not encourage victories. Tigers now have a catcher who can see off crap like Fujii and Hidaka (both signed as panic measures by short sighted officials) On the quality they have right now Tigers should have been 5 games ahead of the Giants in the Central League by now. However, with the quality of management they are still in second place. The big difference between Okada and Mayumi and Wada was that Okada knew about the value of the relief. With Shimoyanagi who was only able to go five or six innings he had to think about good relief pitchers and this enabled him an ability to judge when his other pitchers needed relieving. Wada has no such ability and so overuses his pitches. One hopes it will not result in a second place but one feels that it is highly likely that Tigers will not win this year because of the amateurs in charge.
After the loss though Tigers latest game against the Carp was impressive. Usually you can beat Maeda if you get to him early but Tigers were able to come back from an early deficit and snatch a valuable win. The team itself is good; it is just the manager and coaches who are rubbish. Scores

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Tigers 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 1 0 4 10 1
Carp 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 3 9 1

Starting Lineups

1. Uemoto (Second)
2. Saka (Centre)
3. Toritani (Short)
4. Gomez (First)
5. Murton (Left)
6. Imanari (Third)
7. Fukudome (Right)
8. Umeno (Catcher)
9. Nohmi (Pitcher)

1. Amaya (Right)
2. Kikuchi (Second)
3. Maru (Centre)
4. Eldred (Left)
5. Ka'aihue (First)
6. Tanaka (Third)
7. Kimura (Short)
8. Aizawa (Catcher)
9. Maeda (Pitcher)

Tigers start was all they could wish for - a full count lead off walk to Uemoto. Unfortunately Wada had to go and spoil it all by signalling the steal. Uemoto was tagged out - he may be fast but Akahoshi he isn't. Toritani surprisingly struck out looking and the innings was over. Carp started very well against Fujinami. Amaya hit to Uemoto who couldn't get a throw to first in time - runner on first. The inevitable stupid bunt followed taking Amaya to second. He made third on Maru's ground out but then Tigers screwed up. Eldred was walked in four - Fujinami's pitching being a bit gutless - runners on first and third. Then Ka'aihue singled to centre bringing in the run 1-0 Carp, runners on first and third. Next Tanaka hit left to bring in another run 2-0 Carp, runners on first and third - a very costly walk. Kimura also hit left but this only loaded the bases. It brought up Aizawa who couldn't do anything but strike out looking. Carp were off to a very good start. With two out in Tigers second Imanari worked a walk. Fukudome singled right to put runners on the corners but Umeno couldn't convert and in fact popped up to second ending the innings. Maeda led Carp's second off with a single to left; a real embarrassment. Fujinami pulled himself together though and struck out Amaya and then Kikuchi. Maru was next but just grounded out to first. Tigers third was quiet with no one reaching base. Eldred picked up his second walk of the game to lead off Carp's third but was out to a Ka'aihue double play. Fujinami then compounded things by giving up a single to Tanaka to centre. Unfortunately, Saka's fielding was so poor that Tanaka made second. Fortunately, Kimura struck out swinging to end the innings.

Tigers fourth saw Gomez walk with one out. Murton hit to Kimura who fielded but couldn't get the throw away in time - runners on first and second. Imanari was next and he hit to Kimura who made a complete mess of things allowing Tigers to load the bases. Fukudome singled left bringing in Toritani 2-1 Carp, bases loaded. Gomez should have gone for home as well but the over conservative coaches held him up on third. With only one out they no doubt thought that the second run would come easily but Umeno struck out and Fujinami flew out to centre - a stupid waste one thought. Carp's fourth saw Amaya walk with two out but he tried to steal second. Umeno's throw was good and Amaya turned into the third out. Tigers fifth was quiet with no one reaching base. Carp's fifth was also quiet though they still held the lead. In Tigers sixth Gomez grounded out to third. Then Murton singled to Maeda who couldn't hold. Imanari was next and one really wishes that Wada would make up his mind and stick with Takahiro Arai who surpasses Imanari in every department. Imanari banged the ball straight to Kimura who threw to first to catch Murton off base for the third out and the end of the innings. Carp's sixth started innocuously enough with Ka'aihue flying out to centre. Next was Tanaka who hit his first pitch - a too high curve into the right stand for a solo home run 3-1 Carp. Kimura singled to centre but Fujinami was able to retain control and retire the next two batters to end the innings.

Tigers though were facing defeat and Nomura no doubt thought that it would be safe to pitch Maeda into the seventh. Fukudome flying out was seeming confirmation of that but Wada went with a pinch hitter Itoh (for Umeno) who singled left. This wasn't actually an inspired move Wada was just punishing Umeno for the home run. However, it worked out. His next pinch hitter - Ryota Arai for Fujinami managed to fly out which brought up Uemoto. He took a full count and then too a swing at a tired slider and put it just inside the foul pole for a two run home run 3-3 scores tied. Saka struck out swinging to end the innings. Tigers needed to survive Carp's second and having substituted Umeno, Wada could have been in trouble but at least it was Tsuruoka being used as the replacement catcher not Fujii. Enokida pitched the innings and immediately gave up a single to Dobayashi (pinch hitting for Amaya). Then Nomura blew it - he had Kikuchi bunt Dobayashi to second. Maru struck out looking for the second out and Eldred was walked - runners on first and second. Ka'aihue hit to centre but ended up in the glove of Itoh (replacement centre) to end the innings. Kawauchi started Tigers eighth with a lead off single to Toritani. He was then replaced by Nakata as Nomura began to panic. Nakata got Gomez to pop out to short but Murton singled left - runners on first and second. Then Imanari swung and got away with it doubling along the third base line and bringing in Toritani 4-3 Tigers, a quite impressive turnaround, runners on second and third. Fukudome grounded out to second and Kikuchi threw to Aizawa who tagged Gomez out going for home - Tigers had runners on first and third. Itoh took a dead ball to load the bases. Next was Sekimoto (pinch hitter) but he stupidly went for his first pitch and grounded out to second ending the innings. Tigers now had to hold the lead with an inferior catcher behind the plate and Fukuhara on the mound. This worked out superbly with all three Carp batters falling in order. Nagakawa took over for Tigers ninth and gave up a lead off single to left to the irrepressible Uemoto. Tsuruoka stupid bunted him to second - Wada's limitations being once again visible for everyone - and then Toritani walked. Tigers had runners on first and second. A wild pitch took the runners to second and third emphasising the uselessness of the bunt. Gomez hit a fly to left and Uemoto tagged up and went for home. The throw was good and he was tagged out ending the innings. The Carp's ninth was pitched by Oh who retired the batters in order - it was that straightforward. Tigers victory.

A very good come from behind victory beating Carp's ace pitcher. Carp had handled the game badly though and Tigers had won by virtue of making fewer mistakes. Oh picked up his 24th save and continued to lead the Central League. Nakanishi's comment about possibly sending him down to ni-gun because he blew a couple of games looks more and more stupid and merely exposes just how poor a coach he actually is. The win went to Enokida who had been a bit lucky in relief. Tigers are now 1.5 games behind Giants and really turning the screw.

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Michael Westbay
(aka westbaystars)

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