“Congratulations to all members of the Orix Buffaloes on winning the Japan Series. You responded perfectly to the fans who put their hopes and expectations on you, winning the pennant for the second straight year and becoming champions of Japan. You awakened in me the passionate fervor with which I played 26 years ago as the fans and club alike held dearly to the “Gambaro Kobe” slogan. I continue to have high hopes for the young players on this team, that they will continue to write themselves into the history books under my ex-teammate, manager Satoshi Nakajima.” – Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners
Game 3: Tuesday, October 25 @ Kyocera Dome Osaka
Keiji Takahashi vs. Hiroya Miyagi
For four innings, this one looked like it would be a pitchers’ duel. Then Tetsuto Yamada woke up from his series-long slump, hitting a three-run home run to deep left in the top of the fifth. The Swallows continued to dole out a beat-down in the latter-third of the game, putting up one run in the seventh (Munetaka Murakami bases-loaded walk) and three more in the ninth (Murakami 2-RBI double, Jose Osuna RBI single). The Buffaloes were unable to figure out Takahashi, who threw six shutout innings. Their lone run came with the team down to their final two outs.
Final Score: Swallows 7, Buffaloes 1
Game 4: Wednesday, October 26 @ Kyocera Dome Osaka
Masanori Ishikawa vs. Taisuke Yamaoka
None of the pitchers were particularly effective on this night, though you would never guess it from the score. Leadoff runners reached base safely seven times in 17 attempts, and both staffs combined for 11 walks. Yutaro Sugimoto brought home the only run of the game with a bloop single to left in the bottom of the third. Both bullpens held tight in this three-hour, twenty-eight-minute battle.
Final Score: Buffaloes 1, Swallows 0
Game 5: Thursday, October 27 @ Kyocera Dome Osaka
Hikaru Yamashita vs. Daiki Tajima
The Swallows opened the scoring with a run in each of the first two innings, including a solo home run by Domingo Santana. The Buffaloes replied with a pair of runs produced by the bottom of their order in the fourth, and a go-ahead solo home run by team leader Masataka Yoshida in the fifth. That lead lasted less than a half-inning, as the Swallows scored two (including an RBI double from 40-year-old Nori Aoki) in the sixth. The score stayed the same until the bottom of the ninth, when closer Scott McGough threw a ball away after bobbling a come-backer, and then one out later, served up a third-deck walk-off home run to Yoshida. Series tied.
Final Score: Buffaloes 6x, Swallows 4
Game 6: Saturday, October 29 @ Meiji Jingu Stadium
Sachiya Yamasaki vs. Yasuhiro Ogawa
Both starters were dealing, with neither giving up a run through five. In the sixth, the Buffaloes had a runner in scoring position and Yoshida due up. After the previous game, they wanted nothing of him, gave him first base, and tried their luck against last year’s home run king, Sugimoto. He took an Ogawa offering to shallow right, which was enough to score the lead runner and give the Buffaloes all they would need on this night. Aside from the first batter of the game, the Swallows registered no hits. The Buffaloes added some insurance in the ninth, thanks largely to another McGough throwing error.
Final Score: Buffaloes 3, Swallows 0
Game 7: Sunday, October 30 @ Meiji Jingu Stadium
Hiroya Miyagi vs. Cy Sneed
For the first time in Japan Series history, someone hit the game’s first pitch into the bleachers. Ryo Ohta gave the Buffaloes a one-run lead, which they extended in the fifth on a bases-loaded Yoshida plunking and a Sugimoto bases-clearing… error by center fielder Yasutaka Shiomi. The Swallows put up a good fight in the eighth, thanks to a Murakami RBI single and an Osuna three-run blast, but they came up short. Jacob Waguespack picked up his third save of the series, slamming the door on the Swallows in the ninth on just eight pitches.
Final Score: Buffaloes 5, Swallows 4
So there you have it. For the first time since 1996 Orix won it all. Congratulations! We will be back in two weeks to give you some offseason news, including managerial changes and NPB players vying for MLB contracts. Until then…