This is the time to work hard,” said Hara. This is the time to show our strength. I think the players are well aware of that. We have to break through somehow. ……
The words of Tatsunori Hara, the manager of the Giants who suffered their first six-game losing streak of the season on August 21, when they were trounced 1-6 by the Hanshin, lacked strength. With the league’s fastest losing streak at 60 and a debt tied for the worst at 7, the gap with sixth-place Chunichi has shrunk to 1.5 games, and a drop to the bottom of the standings is now a real possibility. If they finish in last place, it would be the first humiliation in 47 years since Shigeo Nagashima’s regime in 1975 (results as of August 21).
The atmosphere on the bench is not good. Ace pitcher Tomoyuki Sugano has not been getting better, captain Hayato Sakamoto has been out of the lineup with a back injury, and there is no one to lead the team in pitching and hitting. With no one to lead the team, we are unable to stop the bad trend,” said a baseball team official.
The Giants’ team batting average is 3.97, the worst among the 12 teams. The relievers, in particular, are in shambles, with defensive ratios in the 4-point range. Even if the starters hold their own, there are many cases where the game is turned around at the end of the inning.
On the batting line, the main gun, Kazuma Okamoto, is batting in the low .200s and has been demoted to the No. 4 spot. The only one who has been able to get into the lineup is Sho Nakata, who has taken his place in the No. 4 spot. In the three-game series against Hanshin mentioned at the beginning of this article, he gave up only two runs in three games.
The coach’s role is too detailed ……
A distant cause of the poor performance is the way the coaches are organized. Mr. Hara has detailed each coach’s job in an attempt to clarify the division of roles. Each role is manifested in the name of the coach. Daisuke Motoki is the head and offensive chief coach, Shinnosuke Abe is the operations and defensive chief coach, and Shuichi Murata is the hitting and infield defense coach …….
However, when players fall into a slump, they are at a loss as to who to take advice from because the roles of the coaches are so detailed. I think it would be easier to understand if the players were given comprehensive guidance, such as hitting for hitting and defense for defense.
Hara has been delegated full authority by the baseball team and makes all decisions on his own, from team organization to on-field direction and player assignments. He is trusted by owner Juichi Yamaguchi.
He has been manager for 16 years, the longest tenure in the team’s history, and has two years left in his current position. Even if there are questions about team organization or the appointment of coaches, no one can express their opinions to Hara, who has absolute power. However, this season, he has often made decisions that make me shake my head. He has been making early substitutions of starters and relying on the fragile relief corps.
A symbolic example is the game against Hiroshima on July 17, when the lead was 4-0 and starter Yuki Takahashi was replaced in the middle of the fourth inning after giving up a run. Takuya Hoehara, who had pitched in a losing effort the previous day, was brought in and gave up a grand slam homer. I would have to say that the pitching was lackluster.
There are 29 games left in the season. The Hara Giants are now in doubt not only about a come-from-behind victory, but also about even a berth in the AAA division.
Photo: Kyodo News： Kyodo News