Payback has been the word so far at the Japan Series. On Friday, it was the Tigers and Shoki Murakami looking for revenge after Yoshinobu Yamamoto shut them out 2-0 at Koshien during interleague, which they accomplished with a world-class 8-0 butt kicking. Sunday, it was the Buffaloes’ turn, and they, too, delivered.
Also, in catching up with some odds and ends, I need to mention that the Fighters are expected to post pitcher Naoyuki Uwasawa, who could make it a five-pitcher exodus to MLB this winter, along with Yuki Matsui (confirmed free agent), Shota Imanaga (posting expected), Kona Takahashi (posting expected) and Yoshinobu Yamamoto (posting expected).
Sunday’s Game 2
Orix 8, Hanshin 0: At Osaka UFO Dome, Orix’s defense came up big as Hiroya Miyagi only needed to pitch out of trouble once, despite giving up plenty of batted balls of promise. With a one-run fourth-inning lead, shortstop Kotaro Kurebayashi started a razor-sharp double play, allowing Miyagi to survive two two-out singles by striking out Sheldon Neuse.
“I was consistently missing toward the middle of the plate by about the width of one ball,” Nishi said. “Overall, it wasn’t that bad, but at a crucial moment, I was missing and couldn’t stop it. It wasn’t as much about their momentum as much as I couldn’t get it right, and was throwing fat pitches.”
Marwin Gonzalez got his just desserts in the seventh, after coming up empty in a dramatic Game 1 at-bat, with a three-run pinch-hit double as the Orix bullpen recorded nine straight outs.
The postgame interviews offered some contrast.
Masahiro Nishino, one of the handful of Orix players who was a teammate of Nishi in Orix’s bad old days, who got a rare start and cashed in the first run with an RBI triple, pushed the play button on Japan’s automatic hero-interview response to a question about driving in a run with an extra-base hit: “There were good hitters coming up behind me so I wasn’t trying to do anything more than help set the table for them.”
Manager Satoshi Nakajima, however, was in fine form when the announcer asserted that he “must be proud of his relief pitchers.”
“I don’t know if I’m proud of them, but they’re pretty darn good pitchers,” he said.
The Tigers got their second big game from Takumu Nakano, who has five hits, a walk, and has reached on an error while making two outs at the plate and one on the bases.
“I’m expected to be on base, but I was pretty much crap during the Climax Series, so I went back to the drawing board, and renewed my focus on hitting the ball the other way,” he said. “My own results have been satisfactory, but I could have done more to help the team.”
I won’t be an in-person witness to further retaliation at Koshien Stadium as I’ve been recalled by the day job to report for duty in Tokyo today, and won’t return unless the series goes to six games.