Would you believe that despite there being just nine games left in the entire NPB season, neither pennant has been clinched? Interestingly, those games are to be played over the next seven days, and teams end their seasons on separate dates due to a differing number of make-up games to be played. In fact, three teams are already done playing their 143rd games, but four teams still each have three games to go. Anyhow, the third-place teams in each league are set…
The Rakuten Eagles will visit the second-place PL team in the first round of the playoffs. This comes thanks to two straight wins in the middle of this past week (against the Orix Buffaloes and the defending champion SoftBank Hawks). They have now finished in third place in the last three odd years while missing the playoffs in the even-numbered seasons.
The Yomiuri Giants were in free-fall mode until they righted their ship with a win on Thursday against the Yokohama Baystars. Their 11-1 defeat of the Yakult Swallows on Saturday finally mathematically eliminated the Hiroshima Carp. After winning the Central in 2019 and 2020, the Giants sank back down to third, where they ended the 2018 season.
Now, here are the various scenarios that await the top two teams in the PL and CL:
Despite being a game back of the Buffaloes, the Marines hold a magic number of 3. After tonight’s blowout loss to the Hawks, they have really painted themselves in a corner. The Buffaloes won their final game tonight and now wait for the Marines to lose one of their last three games. The Marines head to Sendai to face the Eagles on Wednesday and end their schedule with two at home against the Nippon-Ham Fighters. A 2-0-1 record or better clinches them the pennant. Otherwise, the crown goes to the Buffaloes. The second-place team will host the Eagles on November 6, 7 and (if necessary) 8.
In the CL, the Yakult Swallows’ magic number is 2 and they have three games remaining on schedule: Tuesday night in Yokohama against the Baystars, Friday night in Hiroshima against the Carp, and next Monday at home against the Carp. The second-place Hanshin Tigers play their final game tomorrow at home against the Chunichi Dragons and need a win to give themselves a reasonable chance at stealing the pennant from the Swallows. Either way, a 1-1-1 record from the first-place birds will get them the title, regardless of what the Tigers do. The winners will rest until November 10 while the second-place finishers will host the Giants for a best-of-three starting on November 6.
By next Monday night, the two champions will have been crowned and we can give you a more in-depth breakdown of the first-round playoff matchups. Until then, enjoy this final stretch of NPB action!