Tag Archives: Takashi Toritani

NPB games, news of Sept. 30, 2019

Tigers have their cake and eat it, too

The Hanshin Tigers booked a spot in the playoffs by winning their sixth-straight game on Monday, beating the Chunichi Dragons 3-0 at Koshien Stadium in the final game of Japan’s regular season.

Not only did they win their sixth-straight elimination game, but they found room to play departing veteran Takashi Toritani two innings at shortstop and give longtime reliever Akifumi Takahashi a place in the limelight.

In his speech to the fans, first-year manager Akihiro Yano promised that the Tigers would do their best to inspire Japan the way the national rugby team had been doing in the Rugby World Cup currently taking place across Japan.

The Tigers got a boost when Dragons starter Yudai Ono was pulled with one out in the fourth inning, having lowered his ERA to 2.58 so he could lead the league in ERA.

Ono, who no-hit Hanshin on Sept. 14, saw his ERA against the Tigers this season improve to 1.35. Ono is 3-0 against the Tigers, 6-8 with a 2.94 ERA against everyone else. Ono got a big ovation from the Tigers fans, although some of them may have been cheering the fact that his exit gave their team a better chance to win.

And as if on cue, his replacement, Takuya Mitsuma (2-2), surrendered an infield single and a walk.

Yusuke Oyama put a good compact swing on a 2-2 shoot inside with good run on it that caught too much of the plate. He smashed it up the middle to break the scoreless deadlock. A two-out wild pitch made it 2-0 Tigers.

Here’s Oyama’s RBI single.

Tigers side-armer Koyo Aoyagi (9-9) struck out five over five scoreless innings. He was pulled for pinch-hitter Hiroki Uemoto in the bottom of the fifth and Uemoto singled in an insurance run.

With a three-run lead, the Tigers began honoring their players. A day after Randy Messenger faced one batter in the final career game of his 10-year Tigers career, reliever Akifumi Takahashi faced one batter in his final regular season game. He received flowers from Ono and teammate Kosuke Fukudome, who had been his teammate with Chunichi as well.

Takashi Toritani, who will leave the Tigers at the end of the season, pinch-hit in the seventh and played the last two innings at his old position.

Here’s Toritani’s reception as pinch-hitter.

Kyuji Fujikawa, who at season’s start appeared like he was on that same road for disappearing veterans, continued his remarkable turnaround as closer. The 39-year-old converted his 16th-straight save opportunity since the club began using him in that role on July 26.

The Tigers’ win eliminated the Hiroshima Carp from the postseason for the first time since 2015. Hanshin’s next job will be the first stage of the CL Climax Series. The best-of-three series begins on Saturday at Yokohama.

By winning six-straight elimination games to reach the playoffs, the Tigers surpassed the feat of the 2010 Lotte Marines, who had to win their final three regular season games. They went on to become the first NPB team to win the Japan Series after finishing third in their league. Hanshin’s path was considerably more difficult, however, since they would not even have gotten to the elimination games had they not won their three games before it became do or die. Those wins, coupled with Hiroshima’s loss

The game highlights are HERE.

NPB games, news of Sept. 29, 2019

Tigers have it both ways

The Hanshin Tigers on Sunday found a way to honor Randy Messenger, who is retiring with 98 career wins over 10 seasons, and bring their drive to the postseason down to the final game of the regular season.

Sure, it’s only third place and a spot as the visiting team in the Climax Series’ first stage, but a lot of people were blown away when the 2010 Lotte Marines won their final three games to sneak into the playoffs — only to run the table and walk off with the Japan Series championship.

The Tigers’ road requires six-straight wins, and three of the first four were shutouts.

Tigers 6, Dragons 3

At Koshien Stadium, Naomasa Yokawa broke a scoreless fifth-inning tie with a pinch-hit home run off Yuya Yanagi (6-8) and Hanshin took a 6-0 lead into the ninth. Kyuji Fujikawa, who has been solid as Tiger closer in the second half, allowed three runs in the ninth.

Game highlights are HERE.

Leaving a ‘Big Mess’

Randy Messenger notched his 1,475th career strikeout to open the first inning, and walked off the mound at Koshien to a thunderous standing ovation.

After the game, the Tigers held a retirement ceremony, when Messenger addressed the crowd.

“It’s hard to believe 21 years have gone by so quickly, especially the 10 years here with the Tigers. It’s been a great experience. I’d like to thank the Tigers for giving me the opportunity to spend my whole career being a Tiger. Playing here has been and outstanding journey for me and my family.”

“I will never forget anybody who helped me along the way in my career. So many people have helped me become the baseball player I am today. I want to say thank you to my coaches, my teammates, the training staff, everybody who’s been a part of this organization. Arigato.”

“And thank you for going to battle with me. It’s been a hell of a journey. I want to thank my mom and my dad, my family and friends for all the support you’ve given me in my career.”

“Thank my beautiful wife, Vanessa. You are my rock. You have always been there. You pushed me to be the best on and off the field.”

“You are an amazing wife and mother to our four awesome kids, Francesca, Colette, Rome, and Roland. Tigers fans, thank her as well. Without her I would not have accomplished so much. Thank you Ness.”

“And to all the Tigers fans all over the world. Thank you for the support through good and bad times. Your passion is tremendous.”
“Playing here 10 years has been incredible. I will never ever forget it. From the bottom of my heart, thank you very much.”

“Players can only dream of the amount of support you’ve given me. There will always be a special place in my heart for all the Tigers fans who have ever supported me.”

“As an athlete, you never want this day to come. You want to play forever. Now that this day is upon us, I say so long until the next time we meet again.”

After his speech from the mound Messenger received bouquets of flowers from a number of Tigers players and one each from his four children and a final one from his wife, who got an impressive Hollywood-worthy kiss as the crowd roared.

His teammates surrounded him on the mound and gave performed the celebratory “doage” toss, throwing him in the air repeatedly as the fans cheered before he walked around Koshien as fans showered him with streamers that are usually reserved for winning championships.

Great way to use all this stuff

I loved everything about the ceremony and the speech, but it made me wonder if the whole foul up with Takashi Toritani wasn’t the result of a front office mix-up, where someone jumped the gun and bought and paid for all the supplies they’d need to produce a first-class retirement ceremony before anyone was certain he actually wanted to retire.

In that scenario, someone has to inform the team president that having already spent all this money, it might be a good idea if they had a player to hold a ceremony for. This would explain the team going to Toritani out of the blue and telling him it was time to retire. Was all that production money spent on Messenger’s wonderful sendoff actually spent for Toritani?

I’m not saying this did happen, but if it did, it wouldn’t be the dumbest story I’ve heard coming out of a Japanese front office.

Pacific League

Buffaloes 5, Hawks 1

At Kyocera Dome, last-place Orix proved it could count to six as the Buffaloes gave starting pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto the six innings he needed to qualify — and win — the PL ERA title in their season-ending win over SoftBank.


PL attendance up 3.1 percent

NPB announced Sunday that the final PL attendance figures showed a 3.1 percent increase in announced attendance compared to 2018, with every team increasing except for the Nippon Ham Fighters, who saw a 1.3 percent drop.The Orix Buffaloes saw an 8.2 percent increase, while the Rakuten Eagles were next best at 7.0 percent.