You can’t do anything about foul weather. Tonight was supposed to be the conclusion of the 2023 regular season standings, and with it, an update on the playoff picture. However, a rain-out in Sendai has left the Pacific League standings in unstable condition, so with that half of NPB’s playoffs still cloudy, we will settle for a Central League update today (shorter than usual) and another for the Pacific tomorrow at the conclusion of the last game.
The Hanshin Tigers clinched the CL pennant on September 14 and coasted the rest of the way, leaving the sweating to the teams in contention for the other two playoff spots. With a single game left on the schedule this week for the Yokohama DeNA Baystars, a win would have propelled them into second place, giving them the right to host a best-of-three called the Climax Series First Stage. However, the Yomiuri Giants had other plans for them. Iori Yamasaki threw a complete-game shutout on Wednesday night, rendering Baystars ace Katsuki Azuma the tough-luck loser in a 1-0 game that went to the fourth-place Giants. The result is that the Baystars will travel to Hiroshima to face the Carp this coming weekend in the First Stage. Games are scheduled to start at 1:00 pm at Mazda Zoom-Zoom Stadium on Saturday and Sunday, with the third match slated to begin at 6:00 pm next Monday, if it is needed. The winner will go on to face the Tigers at Koshien Stadium from October 18.
While we are on the Giants, who finished in fourth place for the second straight season, long-time manager Tatsunori Hara (2002-03, 2006-15, 2019-23) announced his resignation despite having one more year left on his contract. In his final speech in front of the Giants faithful at Tokyo Dome after the game, he announced his replacement: head coach and former catcher Shinnosuke Abe. The new manager has vowed to build up a strong generation of Giants players.
We will return briefly tomorrow to sort out the Pacific League for you. If you can find a way to do so, watch the final game of the year (Chiba Lotte Marines @ Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, 6:00 pm JST) and see for yourself who is heading to the postseason! Either way, though, we will share the news with you soon.
For standings and leaderboards, check these links: