The Orix Buffaloes ensured on Wednesday that Yoshinobu Yamamoto will be able to pitch on normal rest if he bounces back from the oblique muscle issue that forced him out of Game 1. It was a fascinating pitchers’ duel with a variety of styles and tempos and a riveting game.
Buffaloes 1, Swallows 0: At Osaka Dome, both teams had plenty of base runners, but Yakult went 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position, while Orix was 1-for-11, with Yutaro Sugimoto singling in Keita Nakagawa, who was hit by a pitch to open the Buffaloes’ third inning.
Forty-two-year-old Yakult lefty Masanori Ishikawa had good command of his varied low-speed arsenal and struck out four, but in his effort to paint the corners and the bottom of the zone, walked four as well, while allowing two hits over five innings.
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Taisuke Yamaoka pitched out of a first-inning jam, after Yasutaka Shiomi singled and the pitcher fumbled the ensuing sacrifice. He left after Shiomi tripled with one out in the fifth, and hard-throwing Yuki Abe notched back-to-back strikeouts to keep Yakult scoreless.
Abe issued a leadoff walk in the sixth, and came within a hair of giving up the tying run, when, with Munetaka Murakami on third, left fielder Masataka Yoshida nearly caught a foul fly in the corner with one out. The ball dropped, and Abe stranded two, ending his second straight inning with two-straight strikeouts.
Udegawa earned the win in relief after two dominant 1-2-3 innings from Soichiro Yamazaki and a scoreless ninth from Jacob Waguespack who worked around a leadoff double in a more impressive effort than his Game 3 eighth inning, when he allowed no runs but missed with some fat pitches.
By failing to score for Ishikawa, the Swallows denied him a claim on history as the oldest pitcher to win a Japan Series game at 42 years, 9 months. The record, 42 years, 8 months, is held by Hanshin Tigers Hall of Famer Tadashi “Bozo” Wakabayashi, who won a game in the 1950 Japan championship, known in just that first year as the Japan World Series.