The original article can be found here 元の記事はこちらです (Written by Shinya Komatsu)
Opening Game? Of course! Hanshin pitcher Randy Messenger (33) returned to Kansai from the athletes’ dorms in Tokyo on the 19th. He kind of put dibs on being the Game 1 pitcher of the Japan Series (against the SoftBank Hawks at Kosher Stadium), which starts on the 25th. At the same time he set a goal of being Series MVP as well. He hopes to take hold of a third crown, having already won the Most Wins and Most Strikeouts titles this season with his great pitching.
The day after sweeping the Giants in 4, Messenger was in relax mode until the question came. His expression changed as talks turned to the Japan Series starting on the 25th.
Do you want to pitch Game 1?
“Of course I want to throw in Game 1!”
Do you want to be Series MVP?
“Of course! It’d be great if I could win that, too!”
The odds-on favourite to open the series declared it loudly from the Tokyo players’ dorms. He’s been exceedingly clear about his preference to pitch Game 1 for awhile. “I believe the first game should go to the guy who’s throwing steadiest,” he said before the playoffs began. He gave the season opener up to Nohmi, but he also led the league in wins (13) and strikeouts (226) this year, carrying the Tigers pitching staff on his back. Just as he hoped in the Climax Series (CS) First Stage, he got the ball for Game 1, power-pitching his way to a win, going 8 strong and scattering 4 hits. If he did it once, let’s see it again! Obviously he is a strong candidate to start on 10/25.
The merits of letting this tough guy spearhead the pitching staff are huge. The championship series goes seven games and includes two travel days. If the first and third game pitchers can go on 4 days’ rest, it’s possible to go with a 4-man rotation. If they do that, the Tigers can trot out Messenger, Nohmi, Fujinami and Iwata in an effort to topple the Pacific League champs. On that note, Messenger has pitched on 4 days’ rest several times this year, and is the perfect man for the job.
Asked about a 4-man rotation, head coach Kuroda suggested it was possible, saying “They can go on 4 or 5 days’ rest. We’ll give it some thought.”
If he can kick things into high gear, the Series MVP awaits him. He threw 8 scoreless innings in Game 1 of the First Stage of the CS, and in Game 4 of the Final Series, allowed 2 earned runs in 5 innings. But Guardian (closer) Seung-hwan Oh took the Series MVP as he pitched in all six games. This time, he intends on taking the crown himself.
“I’m feeling great. I’ll wait to talk about it (opponent’s data) when we have our battery meetings. If I get to it too early I’ll overthink things.”
When the Fierce Tigers won the Japan Series in 1985, the Series MVP was Randy Bass. It’s been 29 years. The strongest import pitcher of the Heisei Period looks to usher in a new era.