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Updated: November 3, 2013
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Copyright © 1997-2013
Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar
Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2013 by Marco Stoovelaar

Golden Eagles shutout Giants to win Japan Series
SENDAI (Japan) - Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles shutout Yomiuri Giants 3-0 on Sunday-evening to win the Japan Series and captured its first-ever championship-title. Playing at home in Kleenex Miyagi Stadium in Sendai, the Golden Eagles scored a run in the first, second and fourth inning to take a quick 3-0 lead. The Giants, who were the favorite in the Series, were held to only five basehits.

By winning the championship, the Golden Eagles became the last team to qualify for the Asian Series, which open on November 15 in Taiwan.

On a cold and rainy evening, the Golden Eagles opened the score in the first at bat off of starter Toshiya Sugiuchi. After two quick outs, Sugiuchi hit Ginji Akaminai with a pitch, then gave up a double to Andruw Jones, which put two runners in scoring position. Akaminai then scored the first run when next batter Casey McGehee reached on an error.

The Eagles then doubled its lead in the second inning, again with two outs. With one out, Motohiro Shima walked, then advanced on a grounder. He then scored when Takero Okajima followed with a double. Hereafter, Sugiuchi was relieved by Hirokazu Sawamura, who then walked Kazuya Fujita, but two runners stranded when a flyout ended the at bat.

In the third inning, Andruw Jones led off with a single, but then a double play followed. Ryo Hijirisawa then doubled, but he was left behind.

The Golden Eagles then added another run in the fourth when, with one out, Akihisa Makida homered to make it 3-0.

In the remainder of the game, the Eagles kept on reaching the bases, but were unable to add more runs. However, the three runs were enough for the win.

Manabu Mima started for the Eagles and struckout five batters in six innings, while giving up only one basehit. The Giants loaded the bases in the first inning with two outs. Mima hit lead-off batter Hisayoshi Chono with a pitch, who then advanced on a sac-bunt. An error then accounted for the next runner. After the two runners moved on a grounder, the bases got loaded when Shuichi Murata walked. But the three runners stranded when a flyout followed.

With one out in the second inning, Mima gave up a single to José Lopez, which would be the lone hit he gave up. Moments later, Lopez was eliminated in an inning-ending double play.

In the third and fourth inning, Mima walked a batter, but that didn't harm him. Mima then retired the side in the fifth and sixth inning.

Takahiro Norimoto took over the pitching for the Eagles in the seventh inning. He gave up an one-out single in both innings he pitched. But in the seventh, he then followed with two strikeouts and in the eighth, he struckout another batter, then ended the inning on a comeback-grounder.

Ace Masahiro Tanaka threw the ninth inning after having pitched a complete game the day before. He then lost his first game of the season, after having won 26. Tonight, in heavy rain, he saw the Giants get two players on base, but ended the season in style. Shuichi Murata led off with a single, then a strikeout and groundout followed. Murata then advanced to third base when José Lopez singled, but Tanaka then finished the game, the Series and the season with a strikeout.

...The skyline of Sendai...
(© Photo: Marco Stoovelaar)
Pitcher Manabu Mima was named Most Valuable Player of the Series.

The Golden Eagles became the seventh team in the history of Nippon Professional Baseball to win a Nippon Series in its first appearance. They are the first team to do so since the Yakult Swallows did it in 1978. Manager Senichi Hoshino became the oldest Manager to win a Series with his 66 year and nine months. He said the team played for the survivors of the deadly earthquake and tsunami that hit the area on March 11, 2011. The earthquake had a magnitude of 9.0 with the epicentre some 70 kilometres (43 miles) off the coast of Japan and lasted six minutes. It was the most powerful earthquake ever to have hit Japan and the fifth most powerful in the world since record-keeping began in 1900. The quake triggered powerful tsunami waves that reached 40,5 metres (133 ft) There were 15,883 deaths, 6,149 injured and 2,652 people missing. 129,225 buildings totally collapsed, more than 250,000 half collapsed and almost 692,000 buildings were damaged. Amongst the damage structures was the Kleenex Stadium, the home of the Eagles. Some 4,4 million households were without electricity. The tsunami caused a meltdown at three reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

,,When I became Manager, there was the earthquake'', Hoshino said in the post-game press conference. ,,When I saw all the survivors and problems they were experiencing, I wanted to provide some comfort by winning a Nippon Series. This was on my mind for three years. There are still many people struggling. I hope this will provide some of those people with comfort, if even to the smallest degree.''

(November 3)

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