Forgive the Hanshin Tigers if thinking that the typhoon bearing down on Tokyo has struck early. Before the game the Giants announced Game 4 of the CL Climax Series is necessary, it will be moved from Saturday afternoon to Sunday because of the expected disruptions from Typhoon Hagibis. In the meantime, the Tigers are playing like they’ve got a train to catch back to Osaka on Saturday.
The SoftBank Hawks, on the other hand, will be in town at least until Sunday now that the Pacific League’s CS Game 4 has also been moved from Saturday.
Giants 6, Tigers 0
At Tokyo Dome, Cristopher Mercedes struck out six over seven scoreless innings against Hanshin and two relievers completed the three-hitter as Yomiuri moved within one win of its first Japan Series berth in six years.
Because the six-game Climax Series final stages give the league champ a one-win advantage, and victory if the series should end up in a tie, the Giants can clinch on Friday with a win or a 12-inning tie.
“Since the end of the regular season, I’ve been working diligently to be ready,” Mercedes said. “Now I want to go back to training like that for my next outing.”
“We’re all working together to get to the Japan Series and win the Japan championship.”
Yoshiyuki Kamei’s hustling leadoff double and a Hayato Sakamoto single allowed the Giants to score in the first on a double play against Tigers starter Haruto Takahashi.
Alex Guerrero made it 3-0 in the fourth, when he pounced on a 3-2 breaking ball from Cuban compatriot Onelki Garcia. His measured sweet swing with a man on lofted the low pitch into the stands in left. When he got back to the bench, he was received a raucous greeting from retiring former captain Shinnosuke Abe.
“He’s got so much experience,” Guerrero said of the future Hall of Famer. “He’s always full of good advice that he shares with me. He is a big part of this team.”
The 37-year-old Kamei doubled with one out to spark a two-run fifth, stole third on the front end of a double steal with Sakamoto and scored on Yoshihiro Maru’s sac fly.
If the Giants do win Game 3, it will mark the third straight sweep in a final stage at Tokyo Dome. The Giants swept the Hiroshima Carp in 2013 and were swept by the Tigers in 2014. The Giants also won the last three games of the 2012 series after dropping the first three against the Chunichi Dragons.
Hawks 8, Lions 6
At MetLife Dome, Seibu showed what its made of, giving up six early runs before storming back into the game in losing Game 2 of their final stage against SoftBank.
On a night when Tatsuya Imai missed with a lot of pitches, Akira Nakamura made him pay for a couple of mistakes with a first-inning RBI single and a two-run, third-inning home run.
For the second straight day, Seibu was victimized by a lucky hit that turned into a first-inning run, but other than that, Imai was just mediocre and the Hawks punished him for it. After a sacrifice and a groundout Taisei Makihara, who reached on a weakly hit blooper, scored on Nakamura’s hard-hit single.
Hawks starter Shota Takeda retired 11 of the first 13 batters he faced before Shuta Tonosaki’s solo homer made it a 7-1 game in the fourth inning. Takeda gave up three runs on three hits in the third, but the bullpen proved capable of holding Seibu to two runs over the final 4-1/3 innings.
Eagles promote farm manager Miki to run PL squad
The Rakuten Eagles have decided to make farm manager Hajime Miki their first-team skipper Sports Nippon Annex reported Thursday.
Yosuke Hiraishi, who began running the Eagles as interim skipper on June 17, 2018, and was appointed manager after the season. The youngest skipper in either league when he started at the age of 38, Hiraishi was also one of the least experienced as a player, his 37 career hits on the first team surpassed the previous low in the two-league era — 56 by the late Hall of Fame skipper Toshiharu Ueda.
When reports that the Eagles had not discussed a contract extension with Hiraishi, first-year GM Kazuhisa Ishii did a fair Donald Trump impression, steaming at reporters and blaming them for their reckless reports. In essence, Ishii said, “You can’t write we haven’t spoken about his job, because we haven’t spoken yet.”
Miki, who was brought in this year to run the Eagles’ Eastern League farm team, is a former teammate of Ishii’s with the Yakult Swallows.
Hiraishi confirmed that he had not been offered a job to manage next season but that Rakuten had offered him a different position.