Before the Giants could even get out of the first inning, Tigers fans were partying like it was
1999 2005. If they keep this up, the party may turn into something circa 1985 in a week or so. The Tigers rode three early home runs to a 8-4 victory over the Giants, sweeping them for the first time ever and advancing to the Japan Series. They will face either the Softbank Hawks or the Nippon Ham Fighters. At present, the Hawks lead their series 3-2. Either way, the series will start next Saturday at Koshien Stadium.
Batting average champ Matt Murton opened up the scoring with a 3-run blast to left field with Uemoto on second and Toritani on first. Kosuke Fukudome followed that up with a solo shot of his own, and the Tigers led 4-0 before the Giants could even step up to the plate. One inning later, Tsuyoshi Nishioka continued the power surge with a 2-run shot to the right field stands, making the score 6-0 after the Tigers’ half of the second.
The Giants continued to generate chance after chance, though, putting runners on base in each of the five innings that starter Atsushi Nohmi pitched. He managed to hold the Giants to two runs (a home run and a sacrifice fly) despite allowing 9 hits and a walk. Nonetheless, he lasted as long as the first four Giants pitchers. All the Tigers’ six runs were scored off starter Yuki Koyama, who was obviously not at his best.
Both teams continued to put runners on base (the Giants more than the Tigers), but the score remained the same until a good stretch for the Tigers in the top of the seventh. Ultimately it was a Mauro Gomez single that brought home two more runs, making the score 8-2. Those were the 7th and 8th RBIs of the short series for Gomez, who has certainly proven his worth this season after many anxious fans doubted his dedication and skill in spring.
The Tigers and their fans got a little scare in the bottom of the ninth when they sent in closer Seung-hwan Oh with a 6-run lead. The first two hitters drilled solo shots to right and left respectively, and after a mound visit from Wada, Oh calmed down and recorded the last three outs without giving up any more runs. Final score: Tigers 8, Giants 4. Game. Set. Match. Back in the Japan Series for the first time in 9 years. First time winning the Climax Series (which was introduced to the Central League in 2007).
Uemoto looks like a prophet now, as the last words spoken at Koshien last Sunday were, “We’ll do our best to come back here for some more baseball!” Fukudome also said something about a double-sweep. The Tigers are halfway to making him look like a genius too.