Japan Series Game 6 was held on Saturday, and was poised to be the series’ second 1-0 shutout, until more ninth-inning weirdness occurred. The Orix Buffaloes are now within one win of their franchise’s first series championship since Ichiro Suzuki and the BlueWave beat the Yomiuri Giants in 1996, and the first win in four tries over Yakult after losses in 1978, 1995 and last year.
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Yoshinobu Yamamoto did not pitch after suffering an oblique injury in Game 1, but that didn’t seem to matter, and won’t pitch in Game 7, when it will be up to Orix’s Hiroya Miyagi and Yakult’s Cy Sneed to see if we have an Orix championship or a Game 8 trick or treat.
Buffaloes 3, Swallows 0: At Jingu Stadium, Sachiya Yamasaki continued his scoreless run in this year’s series, adding five solid innings to the four more fraught frames in last Sunday’s Game 2. This time instead of a three-run Swallows’ ninth-inning comeback and a tie game, the Buffaloes bullpen squashed the Swallows, holding them to two walks over four innings in the one-hit shutout.
Ryo Ota’s second leadoff single paid off for the Buffaloes after a sacrifice, an intentional walk to big wheel Masataka Yoshida and Yutaro Sugimoto’s two-out RBI single that broke up a scoreless pitchers’ duel.
Yasuhiro Ogawa, who had been mixing his pitches well and throwing them all for strikes, missed with a fastball up and in the middle of the zone, and Sugimoto took it to right.
The Swallows had a breath of hope in the third, when center fielder Keita Nakagawa robbed Domingo Santana of a leadoff double. Ogawa worked a 10-pitch walk, and Nakagawa made a good catch in the gap to end the inning. Yamasaki walked two with one out in the fourth, but followed those with two easy outs.
Yuki Udagawa walked two more in the sixth, Tetsuto Yamada and Munetaka Murakami, but also struck out two and got a big play from Ryoichi Adachi to rob Norichika Aoki of a leadoff single. Yoshihisa Hirano and Soichiro Yamazaki each struck out two in their perfect innings, while Jacob Waguespack struck out one in a 1-2-3 ninth.
The Swallows also got solid work from their first two relievers, rookie Naofumi Kizawa and Taichi Ishiyama, who pitched a 1-2-3 eighth against the heart of Orix’s order, but things fell apart in the ninth for the second straight game with Scott McGough on the mound.
He fell behind Adachi and surrendered a leadoff single. On Thursday, McGough lost the handle on a tough grounder and threw needlessly – and wildly to first – tying the game and setting up a Buffaloes walk-off on a Yoshida home run.
This time, McGough fielded a bunt and with time to spare, made a poor throw that scored Adachi and left Kotaro Kurebayashi on third, from where he scored on a sac fly by pinch-hitter Masahiro Nishino.