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Updated: October 26, 2013
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Copyright © 1997-2013
Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar
Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2013 by Marco Stoovelaar

Giants open Japan Series with shutout-win
SENDAI (Japan) - Yomiuri Giants, the champion of the Central League, opened the Japan Series on Saturday-evening (October 26) with a 2-0 shutout-win vs. Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, the champion of the Pacific League. More than 25.000 spectators attended the opening game of the Konami Nippon Series 2013 in Kleenex Miyagi Stadium in Sendai, the home of the Golden Eagles.

The Golden Eagles celebrated their first championship this season and are playing the Japan Series for the first time. Opponent Giants reached the final for the 34th time and has captured the title 22 times, a record.

On Friday, it rained almost the entire day in Sendai due to a typhoon in the neighbourhood. Then, around 2:10 AM on Saturday-morning (local time), a 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit the area with the epicenter being about 320 km (203 miles) off the coast in the Pacific Ocean. The tremblor was listed as an aftershock of the 9.0 magnitude devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit the same area on March 11, 2011 resulting in many casualties. The stadium of the Golden Eagles then suffered damages. After the earthquake on Saturday-morning, a tsunami warning was issued, but that was lifted two hours later. A small tsunami hit the eastern coast of Japan. There were no damages or casualties reported after today's earthquake and so, tonight's game could be played as scheduled.

Singer Muneyuki Sato sang the National Anthem tonight, while Akito Osakae, the Captain of the Rakuten Eagles Junior Team threw the ceremonial first pitch.

Takahiro Norimoto started for the Golden Eagles. The rookie was 15-8 in the regular season with a 3.34 ERA and 134 strikeouts in 170 innings. Tonight, he pitched eight strong innings and struckout 10 batters, while giving up only four basehits. But despite he fine outing, he gave up two runs, one on a homerun and ending up being the losing pitcher.

His teammates collected nine basehits off of four pitchers, but were unable to score runs.

In the first inning, the Giants got a runner on base with two outs when Shinnosuke Abe was hit by a pitch, but he was left behind. In the next at bat, Hayato Sakamoto singled with two outs and Yoshiyuki Kamei walked, but they also stranded. Norimoto then retired the side in the third and fourth inning, but then ran into problems in the fifth at bat.

Lead-off hitter Hayato Sakamoto reached on an error, then advanced to third base when Yoshiyuki Kamei followed with a double. The runners were unable to advance on a following grounder, but then Hisayoshi Chono hit a runscoring single that made it 1-0. After a foul-out, the Giants got the bases loaded when Shinnosuke Abe walked, but three runners were left behind when a Norimoto ended the inning strong with a strikeout.

The rookie then retired the side again in the sixth and seventh inning. After having retired nine batters in a row, he gave up a 2-out homerun to Shuichi Murata in the eighth inning that lifted the lead to 2-0.

Tetsuya Utsumi started for the Giants. He was 13-6 in the regular season with a 3.31 ERA and 107 strikeouts in 160 1/3 innings.

After having retired the side in the first inning and walking lead-off batter Andruw Jones in the second inning, Utsumi gave up two hits in the third inning. With one out, Ryo Hijirisawa singled, as did Kazuya Fujita with two outs, but the two were left behind. In the fourth inning, Jones led off with a single, but was eliminated in an inning-ending double play.

In the fifth, Kazuo Matsui and Ryo Hijirisawa led off with singles, but again the Golden Eagles were unable to score. The home team then stranded more runners in scoring position in the next four innings. The team got runners on first and second base in the sixth, seventh and eighth at bat, then had runners at the corners in the ninth, but they simply had no luck in bringing the runners home. In the eighth, with runners on first and second base and two outs, Kazuo Matsui drove the ball into leftfield, but there Yoshiyuki Kamei made a nice catch to end the inning. The Golden Eagles got their lead-off batter on base six times.

(October 26)

...Kleenex Miyagi Stadium, the home of the Golden Eagles in Sendai...
(© Photo: Marco Stoovelaar)

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