Scheduled Games & Possible Starters*:
Wednesday, October 15, 6pm: Shintaro Fujinami (10-7) vs. Tetsuya Utsumi (7-9)
Thursday, October 16, 6pm: Minoru Iwata (9-8) vs. Hirokazu Sawamura (5-3)
Friday, October 17, 6pm: Randy Messenger (13-10) vs. Toshiya Sugiuchi (10-6)
Saturday, October 18, 6pm: Atsushi Nohmi (9-13) vs. Yuki Koyama (6-2)
Sunday, October 19, 6pm: Suguru Iwazaki (5-4) vs. Kan Otake (9-6)
Monday, October 20, 6pm: Shintaro Fujinami (10-7) vs. Tetsuya Utsumi (7-9)* Giants manager Tatsunori Hara has not announced his starters for the series, so this is purely speculation on my part. I do not know the Giants’ roster, injury reports or strategies very well yet.
Record This Season:
@ Koshien Stadium: Tigers 6, Giants 6
@ Tokyo Dome: Tigers 5, Giants 7
Total: Tigers 11, Giants 13
ERA: Tigers: 3.88 (5th); Giants: 3.58 (TOP)
AVG: Tigers: .264 (3rd); Giants: .257 (5th)
Runs Scored: Tigers: 599 (3rd); Giants: 596 (4th)
Runs Against: Tigers: 614 (4th); Giants: 552 (TOP)
Home Runs: Tigers: 94 (5th); Giants: 144 (2nd)
Stolen Bases: Tigers: 55 (Last); Giants: 102 (TOP)
AVG: Tigers: Matt Murton (.338); Giants: Leslie Anderson (.319)
HR: Tigers: Mauro Gomez (26); Giants: Jose Lopez (22)
SB: Tigers: Hiroki Uemoto (20); Giants: Yasuyuki Kataoka (24)
Wins: Tigers: Randy Messenger (13); Giants: Tomoyuki Sugano (12)
Holds: Tigers: Shinobu Fukuhara (38); Giants: Tetsuya Yamaguchi (35)
Saves: Tigers: Seung-hwan Oh (39); Giants: Scott Mathieson (30)
What to Watch for:
- The Tigers scored just one run in 21 innings in their first round matchup against the Carp. Clearly, they will need more fireworks from their bats in this series.
- Game 1 starter Fujinami is 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA against the Giants this season. His lone career win against them came last August 4, when he threw six scoreless innings. Projected Game 2 starter Iwata, on the other hand, went 2-1 with a 2.81 ERA.
- Giants ace Sugano is injured and is not expected to play in this series. Clearly this is a huge blow to the team that led the league in ERA this season.
- Tigers closer Seung-hwan Oh has pitched 11 1/3 scoreless innings over his last 7 appearances, including 3 on Sunday, allowing just 3 hits over that span. The Tigers will continue to depend heavily on their Korean import in tight situations throughout this series.
- The Tigers finished September/October with a 14-13 record, while the Giants ended on a 19-10 note. This includes a 3-4 record after they clinched the top seed on September 26.
- The Tigers have never had to contend against a strong Giants team to win the Central League.
- In 1985, when they won the Japan Series, the Giants finished 3rd.
- When the Tigers won in 2003, the Giants finished 3rd as well.
- The most recent Central League win for the Tigers came in 2005 when the Giants finished in 5th.
- Only twice since the new playoff format began in 2007 has a non-league champion (a team that finished out of first in the regular season) made it to the Japan Series.
- In 2007, the Chunichi Dragons, who finished second in the CL, beat the Nippon Ham Fighters. (They swept the Giants at Tokyo Dome to advance.)
- In 2010, the Chiba Lotte Marines finished third in the PL but won both their series on the road to advance to the Japan Series. They also won that one, defeating the Chunichi Dragons.
- As mentioned in a previous post, the odds are stacked highly in favor of the home team (Giants). Not only do they host all six games, but they also only have to win three of them. (Or they can win two and tie one, technically speaking.)