Moore vs Sanchez to start Game 3
Monday is the Japan Series’ traditional travel day, when teams practice ahead of Game 3, and in cases like this year, when both managers are on the good-natured end of the curmudgeon continuum, we learn who Wednesday’s starters are.
The SoftBank Hawks will entrust their 2-0 lead to 31-year-old lefty Matt Moore, who pitched in only 13 games due to a hamstring injury at the start of the season, went 6-3 with a 2.65 ERA to give a boost to the Hawks’ first pennant in three years.
Another first-year-import, 30-year-old right-hander Angel Sanchez (8-4., 3.08) will start for the Giants.
The Hawks, as everyone will tell you, have now won 10 straight series games, the longest streak in Japan Series history. The winners of six of the last nine series, also have a 14-game home series winning streak going on.
Their last series loss in Fukuoka came on Nov. 19, 2011. That year the series started late because NPB delayed the start of its season following the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami that devastated much of northeastern Japan and triggered a nuclear disaster.
The Hawks overcame a 2-0 series deficit by sweeping the Chunichi Dragons at home, only for the visiting team to win for the sixth straight time, 2-1 as Yuji Yoshimi outdueled Tsuyoshi Wada in a battle of left-handed aces.
Since Japan Series teams can add and drop players from their daily game roster with impunity, and neither Wada or Giants right-hander Seishu Hatake were active on Sunday, they appear likely to be the Game 4 starters.
Sunday’s 13-2 Hawks win in Game 2 marked the most runs scored in a series game since the Daiei Hawks blew out the Hanshin Tigers in 1993’s Game 2. The late Hideki Irabu started that game for the Tigers and came back and took the loss in Game 7, winning me a 1,000 yen bet with then Tigers coach Tom O’Malley.
The 13 runs were the most scored by a visiting series team since the Yokohama BayStars laid a hurt on the Seibu Lions in 1998’s Game 5, when outgoing Yakult Swallows pitching coach Takashi Saito earned his second win in the 17-5 victory.