Another Japan Series game, another great pitchers’ duel, this one without the late bullpen messiness that altered Game 1.
Japan Series Game 2
Swallows 2, Buffaloes 0
At Kyocera Dome Osaka, Hiroya Miyagi outpitched fellow Keiji Takahashi, but winning isn’t always a question of who pitches better. After a month without pitching, Miyagi brought the live fastball he had early in the season and used all his pitches in the zone to attack hitters and drive them absolutely nuts.
Takahashi has a 147 kph fastball with good hop and makes his changeup a weapon. Both pitchers pounded the zone and threw a lot of fat pitches.
In the end, the Swallows got the big lucky hit an eighth-inning RBI flare single off the bat of Norichika Aoki and the Buffaloes made a critical error, while Yakult’s defense saved their starter’s bacon for a second straight night, allowing Takahashi to hang on and throw a five-hitter while allowing two walks and striking out five. The series shutout was his first career complete game.
Miyagi didn’t allow a runner until back-to-back one-out scratch singles in the sixth. He allowed one run over 7-2/3 innings on five hits and a walk while striking out seven.
Takahashi said he didn’t figure he’d stay in the game as long as Miyagi.
“As well as Miyagi pitched, I figured I’d be done before him, and kept thinking that as I went to the mound and just did my best to keep them from scoring.
A one-out eighth-inning walk by shortstop Naomichi Nishiura, who had Yakult’s first hit in the sixth and started a terrific double play opened the door. Yasutaka Shiomi, who helped defuse one of the Buffaloes’ best opportunities with a good catch in center, hit one of the hardest balls all night by the Swallows on a single, before Miyagi jammed Aoki with an inside fastball and he looped it over second to break the deadlock.
Swallows skipper Shingo Takatsu said, “The balls we hit weren’t very good, but our guys were determined and got hits through willpower.”
They might not have used their mental control to get hits, but the Swallows did work hard to get whatever contact they could despite being absolutely baffled about what pitch Miyagi would attack the zone with next.
Yakult added an unearned run in the ninth against Cesar Vargas on a Domingo Santana walk, a sacrifice, a Jose Osuna single – another rare hard-hit ball – and an error on right fielder Yutaro Sugimoto to allow the pinch-runner to score.
Even with a two-run lead and Takahashi at 122 pitches, there was no call for a fresh reliever. Setup man Noboru Shimizu and closer Scott McGough both had grueling innings on Saturday, but there was no call for either of the next best two, Albert Suarez or Taichi Ishiyama.
Instead, Takahashi got one out on the second hard-hit liner of the series that Masataka Yoshida hit to Nishiura at short en route to a 1-2-3 ninth ending with Adam Jones going down swinging.
The game was the sixth in series history without an extra-base hit, and ended the CL’s seven-year series winless drought in PL home parks.