The Hanshin Tigers moved to within one win or one tie of their first Japan Series berth in nine years when Seiya Kinami’s ninth-inning single drove in the winning run in a 2-1 victory over the Hiroshima Carp in Game 2 of the Central League Climax Series Final Stage on Thursday.
Tigers closer Suguru Iwazaki worked a 1-2-3 ninth to earn the win, while the hosts handed Carp closer Ryoji Kuribayashi the loss at Hanshin’s historic Koshien Stadium outside Osaka.
“I managed to come out and pitch as I usually do,” Iwazaki said. “But it’s my first final stage at Koshien and the atmosphere is absolutely amazing.”
With two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the inning, Kinami fell behind 0-2 but fouled off two 1-2 pitches before smacking one between first and second to plate the winning run.
“I chased the second pitch out of the zone and I thought, ‘I’m in trouble now,'” Kinami said. “But until the end, I was able to hang in there as best I could and something came out of that.”
As league champions, the Tigers began the best-of-seven series with one win, and now lead 3-0. Since the higher-seeded teams in Japan’s playoffs advance if their series end in a tie, Hanshin only needs a tie in one of the remaining games to represent the CL in the Japan Series.
In the Pacific League, the Lotte Marines won a see-saw game, coming from a run down in the ninth to beat the league champion Orix Buffaloes 6-5. The Buffaloes, looking to go to the Japan Series for the third straight year, lead the series 2-1 thanks to their Game 1 victory and their one-win advantage.
Source : Japan Times