The series moved out of Osaka Tuesday to neighboring Hyogo Prefecture, and Hanshin’s iconic Koshien Stadium after each team scored an 8-0 victory at Osaka UFO Dome.
Tuesday’s Game 3
Tigers Buffaloes : At Koshien Stadium, rookie Kohei Azuma allowed a run on five hits and a walk over five innings to improve to 8-0 in his major league career, and Orix’s “Elmore Leonard 3:10 to Yuma” gang, Yuma Tongu and Yuma Tongu, helped put four runs on the board as the Buffaloes took a 2-1 series lead after some scary work from two of Orix’s four relief pitchers.
A good stop by Marwin Gonzalez at second base prevented Hanshin from scoring more than one second-inning run, when the Tigers opened the scoring. Yusuke Oyama, Sheldon Neuse, Seishiro Sakamoto and Seiya Kinami all put good swings on fat pitches from Azuma. Gonzalez dove to keep a grounder from Sakamoto in the infield and get a force out, allowing Azuma to strand two by retiring Tigers pitcher Masashi Ito for the final out.
Tongu tied it in the fourth with a two-out home run, the first of the series. After Tongu swung and missed at a couple of his two-seamers, Ito located a four-seamer at the knees and Tongu cleared the fence in center.
Orix took the lead in the fifth as Kotaro Kurebayashi slapped a 1-2 changeup well out of the zone for a leadoff single. Kenya Wakatsuki lashed a fat 2-0 fastball up the middle on a run and hit, and Kurebayashi scored on a weak groundout. A throwing error by Ito put two on, and after getting a tough call on a 2-2 pitch, Ito threw a straight fastball down the pipe, where his catcher had set the target, and Mune lined it into the gap for a two-run double.
A Tongu single off new pitcher Colten Brewer, a Gonzalez walk, and a sacrifice set up Wakatsuki for a sac fly that made it 5-1.
After the first two Orix pitchers stranded five runners through six innings, Taisuke Yamaoka came out with spotty command and coughed up three runs for the second time in the postseason. Sakamoto and Kinami singled with no outs, and Koji Chikamoto walked. A groundout scored one, and rookie Masato Morishita singled in two to chase Yamaoka and make it 5-4.
Yuki Udagawa got out of the inning, getting Oyama to hit his second smash of the game to Mune at third for the final out, and then worked the eighth for the Buffaloes. With the game on the line in the bottom of the ninth, Yoshihisa Hirano walked two but stranded both by striking out Oyama swinging at a 3-2 splitter.
The save was Hirano’s fourth of this postseason in four games but the second in four career Japan Series games.