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Experiment Writing: Giants Survive Furious Rally

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Experiment Writing: Giants Survive Furious Rally
At this point in the season for both the Yomiuri Giants and the Chunichi Dragons. This series held a lot of weight as first place in the Central League was on the line, with a sweep by Chunichi resulting in the Dragons taking first place by 1 and 1/2 games.

After two games in which Yomiuri threw two of their best pitchers at the Dragons, the Giants now sit comfortably at 4 and 1/2 games ahead. Dicky Gonzalez continued his amazing comeback season yesterday, and today it was Shun Tohno's turn to extend Yomiuri's lead. He got some help from his friends in the powerful Giants lineup.

Yudai Kawai took the mound for the Dragons, as it turned into a duel of the #17's. Yomiuri was first to strike and did it quickly. Following a Tetsuya Matsumoto double, Alex Ramirez (21) got a pitch middle-in and put it into the first row of the left-field stands for a quick 2-0 lead. These were only the first two hits of a 16-hit attack from the Giants today.

In fact, the Dragons only had one inning in which the Giants were retired in order, and that was the second inning. All day, it seemed that every ball that was hit by Yomiuri either required a spectacular stop by the vacuum-cleaner Dragons infield or the fielders were sent diving in vain to try and make a stop.

While Kawai was being peppered with hits, Tohno continued his dominance of the first half of the game. The first five innings from the young righty saw only three Dragons reach base. Tohno walked Masahiko Morino and Tony Blanco with 2 outs in the 1st inning, and the only hit in the first five innings also came from Morino, a double in the 5th.

The second half of the game was a little wild. Yomiuri got another run in the 5th when speedster Furuki came around to score on Matsumoto's double, the third of three hits the young outfielder would have on the day.

In the next inning, Ramirez reached on another single. The shocking part was that the slugger stole second base, then scored after a Tani single and a sacrifice fly by Shinnosuke Abe for a 4-0 Giants lead.

A 4-0 lead against most teams would be safe, but the Dragons have proved that they can make almost any deficit disappear in quite a hurry. Half of the deficit was erased in the next two innings as Tohno gave up home runs in the bottom of the 6th and 7th to Morino (19) and Byung-Gyu Lee (2) respectively.

It would have been a cause for concern if Yomiuri hadn't kept on scoring runs. The Giants put up at least one run in the 5th through the 8th innings, with two runs being pushed across in the 7th.

The two-run 7th also was a flash of the team speed that the Giants have invested in the last couple years. Hayato Sakamoto got his first hit of the game to lead off the 7th, then pinch-hitter Wakiya singled his way on as well. Then came up trouble in Ramirez. Kawai hadn't retired him all day, and this at-bat was no exception. Ramirez completed a 4-for-4 day by doubling home Sakamoto and Wakiya for a 6-1 lead.

Kawai would get out of the inning, but that would be it for the pitcher who was 11-0 last month, but has had a tough August. He gave up 6 runs on twice as many hits, striking out 6 in 7 innings.

Tohno (W, 7-6) was done after 6 and 2/3 innings, giving way to Daisuke Ochi, who finished the 7th for him. In his outing, Tohno again was consistent, giving up 2 runs on 4 hits, walking three and striking out six for his 12th quality start of the season, third this month.

Maximo Nelson took over for the 8th and 9th innings, and managed to get out of a serious jam in the 8th, but not before Matsumoto recorded an RBI groundout to extend Yomiuri's lead to 7-2.

Chunichi wasn't done yet, though. Against Shota Kimura, the Dragons did not make his 9th inning easy. With two out, Kimura walked Atsushi Fujii to set up pinch-hitter Ryosuke Hirata. He hit the 3rd Dragons home run of the day into the left-field stands to cut the deficit to 7-4.

It was a case of too little, too late, though. Kimura got the venerable Kazuyoshi Tatsunami to ground out and end the game.

With the win, Yomiuri now stands at 4 and 1/2 games ahead of the Dragons, and go for the sweep tomorrow.

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Michael Westbay
(aka westbaystars)

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