The Nippon Ham Fighters basically sent their B team out the day after clinching the Pacific League pennant and who could blam them, but the Chiba Lotte Marines nonetheless needed an infield hit and a triple in the ninth to break a 1-1 deadlock in the ninth to eek out a 2-1 victory at Chiba Marine Stadium. Lotte starter Shunsuke Watanabe went all the way on three hits while striking out four and walking one for his ninth win.
Masaru Takeda started for the Fighters and went seven shutout innings on two hits in a no decision.
Takeda had a no hitter for five innings, two walks and an error being the only runners for the Marines in that time.
Watanabe was perfect except for a second inning leadoff single over six.
But in the seventh, Nippon Ham leftfielder Keizo Kawashima doubled to the wall in left and went to third on a sacrifice. Centerfielder Takahito Kudoh was intentionally walked to get to rookie shortstop Yang Chung-shou, who grounded one to the right of first baseman Julio Zuleta, who dove for it, snared it, looked home, couldn't get a throw off, switched direction and dove for first to barely get Yang as Kawashima crossed for a 1-0 lead. Rightfielder Toshimasa Konta grounded to shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who dropped the ball. But Kudoh rounded third a little too far and Nishioka gunned it to third baseman Toshiaki Imae, who applied the tag on Kudoh attempting to scramble back.
Lotte put two on with two outs in the seventh, but Imae flied out to right to leave them loitering.
However, in the eighth, catcher Tasuku Hashimoto singled to center off of reliever Takayuki Kanamori and, one out later, so did centerfielder Daisuke Hayakawa. Shoitsu Omatsu pinch hit for leftfielder Naotaka Takehara and doubled down the rightfield line to plate Hashimoto for a 1-1 standoff. A strikeout and a lineout paralyzed the runners.
Kanamori returned for the ninth and second baseman Jose Ortiz grounded one back through the middle. Yang flagged it down, but his throw to first was late. Imae then lined the next pitch up the rightcenter gap and Kudoh attempted a sliding grab, but it fell in and went to the wall for the walkoff triple.
The start of the game was delayed an hour and 45 minutes by rain. Lotte is now 1.5 games up on third place Softbank and they are now over 1.5 million in attendance. They tied their season series with the Fighters at 11-11-2.
Zuleta hurt an oblique muscle swinging the bat in the seventh and had to be taken out.
Nippon Ham outfielder Atsunori Inaba, who didn't play in order to heal up from various aches and pains, may have snagged his first batting title with Rakuten leftfielder Rick Short, who trails Inaba by four points, about to go on the DL. Short has missed the last three games with a groin problem.
For Lotte, Zuleta was 0-3 and is at .267. DH Benny Agbayani was 0-2 with two walks and is at .273.
For Nippon Ham, Yang was 0-3 and is at .230.
The Rakuten Golden Eagles concluded their season series with Softbank by registering their 14th win in 24 attempts against them at Fukuoka Dome 8-2 to hand the Hawks their fourth consecutive defeat. Eagles starter Yasuhiro Ichiba was clocked at 93mph in going 6.1 innings of two run, three hit ball to wind up his year at 6-2, looking like a totally different guy than what we saw hisa first two and a half campaigns in the PL.
Nagisa Arakaki started for Softbank and was outstanding for four innings, but then the wheels began to come off and he was ultimately charged with five runs (four earned) on eight hits to stumble to 7-9.
Ichiba was perfect for five innings, but Arakaki had a little trouble in the third when shortstop Naoto Watanabe singled to left with two outs and stole second. Second baseman Tatsuya Shiokawa grounded to shortstop Munenori Kawasaki, whose peg to first was wild, and Watanabe motored around for a 1-0 lead.
He would then be in the middle of a major mess in the fifth, as centerfielder Teppei Tsuchiya doubled off the rightfield wall and rightfielder Akihisa Makita rolled a bunt by the mound and Kawasaki's throw was not in time for an infield hit. One out later, Arakaki unleashed a wild pith and Tsuchiya scurried in to make it 2-0. Shiokawa walked, but third baseman Daisuke Kusano flied out to hinder further home invasions.
Unfortunately, Ichiba would cough that up in the sixth when rightfielder Hiroshi Shibahara singled to center and, one out later, third baseman Nobuhiro Matsuda belted a 3-2 fastball on the inner half of the plate and mashed it into the rightfield seats to level it at two apiece.
In the seventh, though, Rakuten catcher Motohiro Shima singled to right with one away and Watanabe singled to left. The runners advanced on a sac bunt. Kusano doubled down the rightfield line to put his squad up 4-2. First baseman Jose Fernandez singled to right and Kusano wandered in to raise it to 5-2.
They would coalesce for another three spot in the ninth off of Akihiro Yanase, as Watanabe singled to center and stole second. One out later, Kusano singled to right to redeem Watanabe. Following another out, DH Takeshi Yamasaki got a 3-2 89mph fastball on the outer half of the plate and walloped it into the rightcenterfield bleachers to pump it up to 8-2. That put Yamasaki into the PL homer lead with 43 and gave him 108 RBI , a new personal best that is also best in the circuit. He is now two dingers away from 300 lifetime.
Softbank put two on with one out in the bottom of the inning, but a groundout and a flyout halted that.
Yamasaki said afterward that he is hurting right now to the point where he can hardly move. He is only the third man in history to lead both leagues in homers and RBIs.
The Eagles saw out September with a 12-10 mark.
For Softbank, DH Brian Buchanan was 1-4 with two strikeouts and is at .277. First baseman Adam Hyzdu was 1-4 and is at .258.
For Rakuten, first baseman Jose Fernandez was 1-5 and is at .274.
Orix manager Terry Collins flirted with the idea of using Yoshihisa Hirano as a closer, but Sunday, he started and went eight innings of one run, six hit ball while striking out three and walking one in a 4-1 victory over Seibu at Osaka Dome. The Lions have now lost 74 games, the worst they have ever finished since Seibu bought them three decades ago.
Kazuyuki Hoashi started for the Lions and went seven innings of three run, ten hit ball while striking out one and walking none in being hung with his seventh defeat.
Seibu put men on first and third with nobody out in the second, but a strikeout and a double play ball torpedoed it.
They would then put two on with two outs in the third, but a groundout snuffed that chance.
Orix would subsequently end the flow of goose eggs in the bottom portion, as leftfielder Yuichiro Mukae singled to left and went to second on a sacrifice. Catcher Daisuke Maeda singled to left and Mukae skipped home. Centerfielder Tomotaka Sakaguchi singled off the glove of shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima and Maeda turned and burned for third. Third baseman Shogo Makita flew out to right and Maeda tagged up and toed the dish for a 2-0 lead.
An error and a single put men on first and third in the fourth for Seibu with one out, but a strikeout and a flyout aborted it.
Buffaloes DH Greg LaRocca singled to right in their turn and went to second on a sacrifice and then to third on a groundout. Mukae singled to right to stretch it to 3-0. Shortstop Keiji Obiki singled to center, but a popup turned the runners into statuary.
That would be pared in the fifth, as Lions rookie rightfielder Yutaro Osaki singled to right and went to second on a one out groundout. Nakajima singled to center and lit out for home. The relay arrived at the plate about the same time that Osaki did and he was called safe. Collins went out to protest the call, but to no avail and it was 3-1. That would be their last hit of the game, but not the last time the umpires would hear from Collins.
However, the herd would another run in the eighth when first baseman Hirotoshi Kitagawa doubled to center and LaRocca doubled to right to up it to 4-1.
Seibu pinch hitter Shogo Akada walked in the ninth againts Daisuke Kato, who then plunked centerfielder Kenta Matsusaka. One out later, backup second baseman Hiroyuki Takagi lined out to Kitagawa, who raced to the bag to try to double off Matsusaka. Matsusaka was judged safe and a livid Collins ran out and his face turned red as he screamed at the first base umpire, feigning that he was going to take his uniform off and reportedly saying, "if you want to control the game then you can become the manager and tell me to go home." That got Collins ejected for the second time this season (and I'm suprised that's all). Osaki flied out and that was that.
For Orix, LaRocca was 2-4 and is at .287.
|Nippon Ham No
suprise, but Yu Darvish will start game one of the Pacific League playoff
Manager Trey Hillman said that he only slept for three hours Saturday night/Sunday morning after locking up the pennant, part of that due to a long phone call to his family back in the states.
Orix Outfielder Chad Allen has an oblique muscle pull and has been taken off the roster. It is likely he will not be back with the Buffaloes next season.
Softbank Third baseman Hiroki Kokubo had some left wrist pain, so he sat Sunday's game out.