Sunday was Game 2 day in Japan with the Lotte Marines and Yomiuri Giants each taking a 1-0 lead into their games, meaning Lotte could advance to the Pacific League Climax Series’ final stage with a tie, while the Giants would need a win or ties on Sunday and Monday to advance to the Central League’s final stage.
The weird best-of-seven final stages start on Wednesday at Jingu Stadium in Tokyo and Kyocera Dome Osaka. They are weird because, like the first stage, they are played entirely at the home park of the league champs, who begin with a one-game advantage, meaning the best-of-seven series can’t go to seven games.
It took me 14 years, but I’ve finally come up with a better name for Japan’s postseason pre-Japan Series playoffs, but I’m only going to share that with the newsletter readers for new. If you want to sign up for the jballallen.com newsletter, sign up at the end of this post and I’ll hook you up every Monday.
Marines 4, Eagles 4
At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Yuki Kuniyoshi made amends for blowing up Game 1, by preventing this one from blowing up in the seventh inning with two on and one out after Rakuten scored its fourth run off Marines starter Kazuya Ojima to take a 4-3 lead.
Marines manager Tadahito Iguchi said Kuniyoshi was supposed to start the seventh, but he hesitated, and said he had to answer for that after the game. Instead Kuniyoshi got two quick outs, Leonys Martin tied it with a seventh-inning homer and Chihaya Sasaki and closer Naoya Masuda each worked a scoreless inning to send the Marines into the final stage.
The Eagles, needing two wins to advance after a sayonara loss in Game 1, gave starter Takayuki Kishi a 2-0 second-inning lead on a one-out double by former Marines captain Daichi Suzuki, and RBI singles by veteran catcher Ginjiro Sumitani and surprising leadoff man Tsuyoshi Yamasaki.
The Marines came back in the second for one run on singles by Adeiny Hechavarria, rookie Koki Yamaguchi and Yudai Fujioka. Hechavarria walked in the fourth and tied it on a Yamaguchi double. Yamaguchi homered off Tomohiro Anraku in the sixth, before Ojima blew his 3-2 lead in the seventh.
Sumitani hit a leadoff homer, Yamasaki hit his second double and scored on a single by Hiroaki Shimauchi as the PL RBI leader drove in his fourth run of the series. With one out in the eighth, Martin homered off another former Marine, Tomohito Sakai to tie it and the Marines held on for the tie, which ended the season for Masahiro Tanaka and the Eagles.
Lotte advances as the higher seed by clinching a tie in the best-of-three series with a 1-0-1 record
Giants 4, Tigers 2
At Koshien Stadium, Hanshin banged out 11 hits and drew five walks, but only managed two score twice, while the team that allowed a Japan-worst 67 unearned runs in the regular season, allowed four more in their season finale.
Ryutaro Umeno and Teruaki Sato doubled off Giants starter Yuki Takahashi to make it 1-0 in the second, and singles by Koji Chikamoto—that chased Takahashi–and Takumu Nakano, off reliever Kyosuke Takagi, made it 2-0.
Koyo Aoyagi faced the minimum through two but a Nakano error at short allowed the Giants a leadoff run in the third. Singles by Takumi Oshiro and pinch-hitter Takumaru Yaoita loaded the bases. Leadoff man Seiya Matsubara’s second single made it 2-1, and Yoshihiro Maru smashed a two-out two-run single to put Yomiuri in front for good.
Yomiuri got another leadoff man on via an error, in the eighth, charged to third baseman Yusuke Oyama, and that run scored after Maru bunted for a hit, a sacrifice, and a sac fly by Zelous Wheeler.
Closer Thyago Vieira, the Giants’ eighth pitcher, gave up a two-out infield single to Jefry Marte and walked Oyama but struck out Mel Rojas Jr in an entertaining at-bat to end it with the right-hander erupting in his habitual celebration.
Yomiuri wins the best-of-three series 2-0.