It was a busy week even though there were only two days of action. We will get to that action (and it was GOOD!) later, but first, let’s take care of some awards and quickly look at the draft.
For the second straight season, Orix Buffaloes right-handed pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto has been awarded the Eiji Sawamura Award. NPB only gives this award to one pitcher (or sometimes none!) across both leagues, and the panel of judges who must reach a consensus are all former Sawamura winners. This year, Yamamoto won 15 games and boasted an ERA of 1.68 and 205 strikeouts in 193 innings of work.
Yamamoto also won Pitcher of the Month in the Pacific League for September and October. He went 4-0 in five starts with a 1.38 ERA in 39 innings (and 42 strikeouts). On the flip side, Chunichi Dragons lefty Shinnosuke Ogasawara won the award in the Central for the first time ever, posting a 4-0 record with a 1.51 ERA in 35 2/3 innings (and 42 strikeouts).
As for the batters, Masataka Yoshida of the Buffaloes won in the Pacific, thanks to his .416/.500/.779 slash line, which he built up thanks to 32 hits (7 home runs) and 23 RBIs. In the Central, Dayan Viciedo of the Dragons won for the fourth time in his career, accruing a .367/.406/.541 slash line, three home runs and 16 RBIs.
On Thursday (October 20) the NPB draft took place. As you may know, the first round of the draft allows any team to select any player, and if there is overlap in the choices, a lottery is held (with every team having an equal chance at signing rights, regardless of regular season standings). This year, only two players received multiple bids. Shogo Asano (high school outfielder) ended up going to the Yomiuri Giants and not the Hanshin Tigers, while right-handed pitcher Kosei Shoji went to the Rakuten Eagles while the Chiba Lotte Marines were left looking for another top choice. Naturally, it is impossible to predict whether Asano and Shoji will be the cream of the crop, but for now, they are getting more attention than the rest. Can’t wait for next year and beyond!
And now, what you’ve all been waiting for… a summary of Games 1 & 2 of the Japan Series, which took place on Saturday and Sunday!
Game 1: Yoshinobu Yamamoto vs. Yasuhiro Ogawa (Meiji Jingu Stadium)
The Swallows opened the scoring in the bottom of the first on a Jose Osuna 2-RBI that appeared to catch the corner of third base and carom into shallow left foul territory. The Buffaloes fought back for two runs in the top of the second, with Kotaro Kurebayashi singling home one run and Shuhei Fukuda drawing ball four with the bases loaded. However, from there, the Swallows’ powerful bats overwhelmed Yamamoto. Yasutaka Shiomi and Osuna each hit solo home runs, and Yamamoto left the game in the fifth with cramps in his side. Though the Buffaloes pulled to within a run (on a), Munetaka Murakami put this game on ice with a monster home run in the bottom of the eighth.
Final Score: Swallows 5, Buffaloes 3
Game 2: Sachiya Yamasaki vs. Cy Sneed (Meiji Jingu Stadium)
The Buffaloes drew first blood on a pitcher RBI single. That’s right – their pitchers do not bat all year but Yamasaki pushed a run across with a single to right in the top of the third. Later in the same inning, Yuma Mune brought Yamasaki home. Two innings later, Yutaro Sugimoto hit an infield single to bring the lead to three. However, in the bottom of the ninth, pinch-hitter Soma Uchiyama hit a three-run blast to tie the game. Both teams produced great chances the rest of the way, but NPB rules require games to end after 12 innings, and this one ended without a winner.
Final Score: Swallows 3, Buffaloes 3
Unless there is a Game 8 (if the series is tied 3-3-1 after 7 games), we will have a winner by the next time we send you an NPB newsletter! Have a great week!