We had our first elimination games of Japan’s postseason Sunday, a couple of MLB player cameos, and our 2nd “that could have been his last pitch for this team” moment of the week.
Carp 4, Deniers 2: At New Hiroshima Citizens Stadium, we had another pitchers’ duel, this time between DeNA’s Shota Imanaga and Hiroshima’s Masato Morishita. Imanaga surrendered a first-inning homer to the wonderful Ryoma Nishikawa, and Morishita made that one-run lead stand up through five. Rookie Takuma Hayashi doubled to open the sixth and after a sacrifice moved him to third, manager Takahiro Arai swapped out his starter for another right-hander, Haruki Omichi.
Omichi, whose best pitches this year have been his slider and curve, took out Taisei Ota and Shugo Maki on six fastballs, that they both got under. Hiroshima, the CL’s best pinch-hitting team this year, got a pinch-hit homer from Shota Suekane to make it 2-0, but the much maligned Edwin Escobar, struck out Shogo Akiyama with the bases loaded to end the inning with what might have been his last pitch for DeNA.
The Carp turned their lead over to Shota Nakazaki, their closer from their 2016-2018 championship seasons, and he surrendered a couple of no-out singles. A bunt put both in scoring position, from where a Taiki Sekine single off Nik Turley brought in one run, and a Neftali Soto sac fly tied it.
Taiga Kamichatani pitched a 1-2-3 seventh against the bottom of the Carp order, but two singles and his failure to get an out at third on a sacrifice bunt allowed Hiroshima to load the bases with no outs. Pinch-hitter Kosuke Tanaka, another former star from the Carp’s championship years, ripped Kamichatani’s first pitch for a single, and Shogo Akiyama, whose deep fly against a drawn-in outfield with two outs in the 11th inning scored Saturday’s winning run instead of being caught for the third out, delivered an insurance run with a sac fly.
Ryoji Kuribayashi, for whom much of 2023 was a lost season, got the final outs to save it send the Carp to Koshien to play the final stage of the CL Foreplay Series to see who competes in the Japan Series.
Carp Hall of Fame outfielder and former manager Koji Yamamoto, who was working as an analyst on the TV broadcast, tossed out the first pitch, and as he was getting ready, another former Carp star, Cubs outfielder Seiya Suzuki walked to the plate carrying a bat to take the obligatory swing and miss.Continue reading NPB news: Oct. 15, 2023