Seeing the Swallows watch the end of the Tigers’ game on the Yokohama Stadium big screen felt like a distant echo of Sept. 15, 2003, when the Tigers beat the Hiroshima Carp in an afternoon day game and then waited for the BayStars to beat the Swallows in Yokohama Stadium so they could celebrate. But the Tigers in 2003 had been sitting on a magic number of one for about a week but couldn’t buy a win at Nagoya Dome but they were going to win sooner or later with more than two weeks left in the season.
This time was a lot tighter and both teams did their part to take it down to the wire, Hanshin not being eliminated until their final regular season game.
Tsuji: Never can say goodbye
Hatsuhiko Tsuji has accepted the Seibu Lions’ request to remain as manager for the 2022 season the team said Tuesday night according to Sponichi Annex. Word had been leaking that Tsuji was ready to walk away with the Lions poised to replace him with farm manager Kazuo Matsui.
BayStars 5, Swallows 1
At Yokohama Stadium, Domingo Santana and Yuhei Nakamura broke open a 1-1 tie with back-to-back third-inning two-run doubles, and Yakult hung on to beat DeNA, and then waited a few minutes for Hanshin’s game to end so they could celebrate.
Doubles by BayStars rookies Kaito Mori and Shugo Maki made it 1-0 with two outs in the first off Yakult’s Hirotoshi Takanashi. The Swallows wasted a leadoff single in the first but not in the second, when Munetaka Murakami singled, Santana doubled and the tying run scored on a groundout against Shota Imanaga (5-5, 3.08).
Takanashi worked a 1-2-3 second and the Swallows put up four runs in the third. Yasutaka Shiomi and Norichika Aoki opened with singles. Imanaga jammed Tetsuto Yamada and Munetaka Murakami, Yamada’s pop to shallow right was caught but Murakami’s loaded the bases with a single.
Santana’s second double made it 3-1, and Yuhei Nakamura doubled off the wall to drive in two more. Imanaga loaded the bases with one out, but allowed no more runs and was pulled for a pinch-hitter in the BayStars’ third.
The Swallows went to the bullpen in the fifth. Starter Keiji Takahashi (4-1) stranded two in the sixth and one in the seventh, while Noboru Shimizu and Scott McGough each allowed two runners in their scoreless innings to close it out.
Dragons 4, Tigers 1
At Koshien Stadium, Chunichi’s Shinnosuke Ogasawara (8-10, 3.64) allowed four hits and a walk while striking out four over six innings, and three relievers retired the final nine Tigers to consign Hanshin to second place.
The Dragons got two on with one out in both the first and second, and a Tigers error made the second time a charm thanks to an error. Shuhei Takahashi’s leadoff single and a one-out Yuki Okabayashi single put runners on first and second. Yusuke Oyama fielded a tailor-made double play ball and got the force at second, but second-baseman Kento Itohara’s throw skipped past first to bring in the game’s first run.
With two on and two out in the bottom of the second, Hanshin manager Akihiro Yano began pulling out stops, pulling starting pitcher Koyo Aoyagi (13-6, 2.48) for a pinch-hitter.
Hanshin’s second pitcher Masaki Oyokawa lost the leadoff hitter in the fifth when he struck him out on a wild pitch. A walk and a one-out Yota Kyoda singled to load the bases. Kosuke Baba struck out the first batter he faced but surrendered a two-run Yohei Oshima single that made it 3-0.
The Dragons added a run against setup man Suguru Iwazaki in the eighth on a one-out Oshima single, a stolen base by pinch-runner Shohei Kato and a two-out infield single when the umps ruled Masaru Watanabe beat Yamazaki to the bag.
Fighters 1, Lions 0
At Sapporo Dome, the Lions inched closer toward their first last-place finish since 1979, when Seibu purchased the team and moved them to the suburbs outside Tokyo.
The Fighters broke a scoreless tie on a walk, a sacrifice in which the batter reached on a fielder’s choice, another sacrifice that left first base open and the team that issued the fewest intentional walks this year, went for it to load the bases, allowing Go Matsumoto draw a walk-off walk.
Nippon Ham now trails the fifth-place Lions on winning percentage points, .440 to .438 with two games to play. A win and a tie for the Fighters will secure them a fifth-place finish.
Wednesday’s starting pitchers
Eagles vs Marines: Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi 6 pm, 5 am EDT
Active roster moves 10/26/2021
Deactivated players can be re-activated from 11/5
The Orix Buffaloes deactivated their entire roster ahead of the playoffs.