Season 2 of Daiya no A has wasted no time in dumping us straight into the action, and with it back to the curious mixed emotions that defined watching so many of the games towards the end of S1. Furuya continues to mature on the mound, and in doing so he seems to be getting farther and farther away from Eijun – without Eijun even getting the chance to make his own case. I can certainly understand Eijun’s frustration because I’m frustrated just watching it, but it’s hard to argue with results.
What we’re presented with a classic (perhaps conveniently so) case of opposites on the mound, both first-years. Teitou’s Mukai-kun is a finesse pitcher of the highest order, a wily craftsman and a bit of a charlatan. Furuya is pure, dumb straight-ahead power. Both are more or less equally effective for the first five innings of this game, though Teitou certainly scrapes together more chances off Furuya than Seidou does off Mukai (I can’t even remember them getting a baserunner, to be honest).
One element of interest that’s portrayed here is that of pitch-framing – the catcher’s art of making borderline pitches look like strikes to the home-plate umpire (especially important with a pitcher like Mukai). It may seem a bit baseball geeky, but this is one of the hottest topics in a sport increasingly focused on advanced statistical analysis. Measuring it is an inexact science, though statheads pretty much believe they can measure anything in baseball. And some believe a catcher can save an many as 40 runs over a season for a major-league team – or lose that many – a huge number that frankly seems a little preposterous to me.
The other storyline playing out here is the rain, which falls during the entire episode and finally gets so heavy that the game is held up after five innings. Normally after a lengthy delay a manager will change pitchers for fear of damaging arms, but in Japanese high school baseball there seem to be pretty much no practices which even acknowledge the health of the pitcher, never mind prioritize it, so I fully expect to see both these first-years back out there once the delay is over. And for Furuya – already losing focus during the delay – to struggle, which will give us the opportunity to see whether Kataoka really trusts him with a meaningful game on the line.