The Hanshin Tigers have clinched their first Central League title in 18 years by making the Yomiuri Giants pay.
Hanshin defeated Yomiuri 4-2 on Thursday at Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. With the win, Hanshin eliminated the last remaining magic number one in the regular season and clinched the Central League title.
With the win imminent, Hanshin’s home region of Kansai was in a festive mood early on. Koshien Stadium drew 42,648 fans, the largest crowd for a single NPB game this season.
With Hiroto Saiki starting for Hanshin and Yuji Akahoshi starting for Yomiuri, the game was a tight pitching battle until the middle of the first inning. Neither team was able to get on the board until the bottom of the sixth inning, when Hanshin finally broke through.
After a leadoff single, runners were on first and third. The fourth batter, Yusuke Oyama, hit a sacrifice fly to center field, and the fifth batter, Teruaki Sato, hit a two-run home run. Hanshin took a 3-0 lead.
Yomiuri answered right back. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Kazuma Okamoto hit a solo home run. Hanshin got one back in the bottom of the seventh, but Yomiuri answered with a run in the top of the eighth on a Takumi Oshiro RBI single.
Leading 4-2, Hanshin took a two-run lead into the top of the ninth. Yu Iwasaki came on and got leadoff hitter Kazuma to fly out to center field, then gave up a double to Hayato Sakamoto, the second batter he faced, that hit the top of the right field fence, but he was able to get out of the inning without allowing a run, securing the league title for Hanshin.토토사이트
It’s been 18 years since Hanshin won the Central League since 2005. The next goal is to win the Japan Series. The last time Hanshin won the Japan Series was in 1985. That’s more than 37 years ago.
Their most likely opponent is their local rivals, the Oryx Buffaloes, who are currently in first place in the Pacific League. The Oryx are also close to clinching the league title, barring any upsets. If the two teams were to meet in the Japan Series, it would be quite the spectacle. After an emotional victory, Hanshin will be looking to win their first Japan Series title in 38 years.