Last week I broke down the final few days remaining on the schedule, as well as the importance of finishing first (or at least second). The Tigers’ regular season is now over, and it ended on a positive note, as they defeated the second-place Hiroshima Carp, 4-2. Since I didn’t see the game, I will refrain from recapping, as all I could see were text streams of what was happening. Suffice to say, Korean closer Seung-hwan Oh has proven his worth in the final week of the season, pitching in five straight games, going over one inning in three of those, and not allowing a single run. In fact, in 7 1/3 innings, he allowed just one baserunner when he walked a Baystar on Tuesday evening.
So now what? The Tigers and Carp are tied for second place, though the Carp hold a minuscule percentage lead (.5245 to the Tigers’ .5243), so technically they have second. But wait! The Carp have one more game on the schedule: they host the Yomiuri Giants on Sunday, October 5. That will go a long way towards determining the Tigers’ playoff position.
Should the Carp win, the Tigers will finish third. A tie would apparently also mean the Tigers get 3rd. If the Carp lose, the Tigers take second by 0.5 games, and will host a minimum of two playoff games, to take place October 11 (Sat) and 12 (Sun). If a third game is necessary to determine a winner, October 13’s the date. It will be exciting to see what happens, as the home field advantage presents several interesting ramifications.
First, it could save manager Yutaka Wada’s job, much to the public’s chagrin. It would generate more income for the team, which does not affect fans or players, but certainly the Hanshin Railway company will be pleased. It would likely mean Randy Messenger would get the start in Game 1, as his home record is quite impressive. It would also mean the Carp would have to take two of three at Koshien. These Tigers run so hot-and-cold that anything is possible, but home field advantage is still something worth hoping for. GO GIANTS! (Just for one day – Sunday)