Saturday, October 07, 2006

Japanese Baseball: Matsuzaka and Saito have a duel for the ages

Pacific League Playoffs
Seibu 1, Softbank 0 - Both Kazumi Saito and Daisuke Matsuzaka came into this game dealing, and it was a true pitchers duel as Kazuhiro Wada doubled in the games only run in the seventh when Hiroyumi Nakajima and Alex Cabrera strung together back-to-back singles with nobody out. Both pitchers threw a complete game, Saito went eight, giving up four hits and two walks, while striking out nine. Matsuzaka went all nine, yielding just six hits and striking out thirteen and hitting four different batters. Sadaharu Oh decided to seperate his best hitters out while letting Jolbert Cabrera bat third, and Jolbert left five runners on base.

Central League Playoff Push
Hanshin 5, Yomiuri 3 - Hanshin put up a furious rally in the eighth to win their ninth out of ten and pull within two of the Chunichi Dragons in the CL. Tomoaki Kanemoto hit his twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth homers of the year, including a three-run shot in the eighth to break up a 2-2 tie. Kyuji Fujikawa gave up a run in the ninth to raise his ERA to 0.7, but picked up his seventeenth save. Yoshinobu Takahashi hit his fifteenth homer in the top of the eighth to tie the game for the Giants.

Yokohama 3, Chunichi 2 - Dragons manager Hisashi Yamada played the percentages and got burned in the eighth. With a 2-0 lead, he brought in LHP Masato Kobayashi to face three left-handed hitters in a row, and despite walking the first, he had gotten a strikeout and a quick popup. He then turned to RHP Shinya Okamoto (4-1), as there were three right-handed hitters in a row. Okamoto walked the first batter, then gave up a three-run game losing homer to Shuuichi Murata (33rd). Marc Kroon picked up the save for the Bay Stars, his twenty-sixth. Chunichi's magic number stayed at four.

Hiroshima 4, Yakult 3 - In a game dominated by ex-MLB players, the Swallows jumped off to a 3-1 lead off a homer by Adam Riggs, his thirty-eighth (good for third place in the CL). Alex Ramirez hit his twenty-fifth homer, a three-run bomb that made a loser out of Masaki Hayamashi (2-4). Shinjo Takatsu picked up his thirteenth save with a shaky (1 bb, 1 h) ninth.

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