10/22/08 – Central League Climax Series – 2nd Stage – Chunichi vs. Yomiuri (Game 2)

October 22nd, 2008

Tokyo Yakult Swallows capChunichi Dragons 4

Yomiuri Giants 3

(Tokyo Dome)

Chunichi came up with some clutch play to level this series at one game apiece.* Shockingly, it took Yomiuri starter, Seth Greisinger, 101 pitches to get through four and one-third innings during which he gave up three runs (two earned) off of five hits. Greisinger ended up with an ERA of 4.15 and tallied six K’s against an uncharacteristic three walks.

Greisinger got off to a rocky start.

Chunichi right fielder, Byeong-gyu Lee (sometimes romanized as Byung-kyu Lee), led-off with a solo shot to left. Three batters later, Tyrone Woods deposited one in the bleachers in right. 2-0 Chunichi.

Greisinger only gave up three more hits after that, but he walked in a run in the fifth, and that proved to be the end of his night. But it was another off-season Yomiuri acquisition that ended up taking the loss in this one. More on that later.

Of note for Chunichi was Kazuhiro Wada who went three-for-four with a walk. Masa Yamamoto (5.06), Chunichi’s starter, lasted five and one-third innings while giving up three runs off of five hits.

Ramirez and Sakamoto had 2-4 nights at the plate for the home team, and Tani hit a solo home run. But the big heart-breaker for Yomiuri fans was the bottom of the eighth when the Giants loaded the bases with only one out and the score tied 3-3. Yoshinobu Takahashi, who hadn’t started the game, came off the bench to pinch hit. And hit he did–right into a double play to end the inning.

Chunichi scored what proved to be the game-winning run in the top of the ninth off of Yomiuri’s closer-extraordinaire, Marc Kroon. With two outs and a man on first (Morino walked), Kroon gave up consecutive singles to Wada and Nakamura, the second of which brought Morino home. 4-3 Chunichi.

Hitoki Iwase came on in the ninth and sat three batters down on only nine pitches (two K’s). Reliever Masato Kobayashi got the win while Iwase notched a save.

The series is now tied at one game apiece. Game three of this series is scheduled for tomorrow night at Tokyo Dome (6:00 PM).

* Yomiuri, due to a rule enacted in the off-season, was gifted a one-game advantage because they won the Central League pennant this year. This was technically the second game of the series, but the first one in which any baseball has actually been played. Similarly, Saitama Seibu, the Pacific League champs, began its recently-concluded series versus Hokkaido with a one-game cushion.

About Christopher Pellegrini

Christopher is a budding sabermetrician and long-time supporter of Tokyo's more lovable team, the Swallows. He has publicly volunteered, several times, that he plans to buy the team at some point in the future. When he finally runs the joint, it is likely that he will fine any player who swings at the first pitch or sac bunts (unless it's a pitcher, of course). Follow him on Twitter: @chrispellegrini

  • Rob

    Oh, wait – they get a one game advantage – I remembered that – but the Giants get home field advantage all the way through the six games? And they’re all played back-to-back because there’re no travel days? They must have been really cheesed at the Dragons last year!

    Are they splitting the ticket receipts from the CS games between the participating teams? (Or between the two teams playing at each stage?) Or does the third-place team get nothing from the gate (because it plays all its games on the road)?

    Surprised to see Greisinger implode like that. He owned the Dragons during the regular season.

  • As far as I know, the Giants get all the receipts through the six games, and the Dragons get nothing.
    The Yukan Fuji says CS would cost the Fighters not less than 10 million yen.

    http://news.www.infoseek.co.jp/topics/sports/n_cs__20081023_11/story/22fuji320081022106/

  • Excellent questions. My gut instinct is that since Yomiuri is involved, Chunichi isn’t getting a whole lot out of the deal.

    But I don’t know for certain how it all works out. Anyone else?

    And whose idea was it, as Rob already mentioned, to give the League champs both a one-game advantage and home field throughout the series?

  • Ah, Tomish, thanks for that! We just posted at the same time.

    Any idea who is behind the massive advantage enjoyed by the league champs in the second stage of the Climax Series?

  • Rob

    Thanks Tomnish and Christopher!
    Wow, that’s really a negative incentive for a cheap club like the Dragons.

    As an organization, their goal seems to be to repeat what they did the previous year (not counting 2007) or maybe to do a little better, but NOT to win it all. If they win it all, they have to give people raises or come off looking cheap when they don’t – so they seem to aim for second place.

    But if third place is a guaranteed monetary loss (no ticket revenue), with further cash outflow (raises for players) likely if they win even the first stage….

    In one way it IS an incentive to fight to the bitter end for first place, but from another perspective it’s not in the organization’s best interests to finish third or even second.

  • You’re welcome, Christopher and Rob.

    They say Mr. Kiyotake, the representative of the Giants, made the proposal.
    The CL board of directors was against the advantage system last year, but they seem to have changed their mind since the Giants was defeated by the Dragons in the playoff series last year.

  • Well, 10 million yen should be peanuts, is that even a backup’s salary?

    The massive advantage the pennant winner enjoys is to ensure that winning the pennant remains significance, I think, and also to please Nabetsune.

  • Tomnish, you said it all. Had the Giants not lost in the playoffs, we wouldn’t have this absrudly lopsided system now. After all, the main goal of the CL is to bend over backwards to help the Giants win. If League directors or team officials want to improve the league and make it a more competitive, maybe even profitable industry, the first step might be to enact a rule whereby the Giants’ rep is not allowed to speak at meetings.

    If not that, it’d be nice to see other teams stand up for themselves and point out that what is good for the Giants and what is good for baseball tend to be opposites.

  • Funny thing is Softbank did exactly the same thing. They finished in 1st 2 years running and lost out in the playoffs. Then they, being the big gorilla of PL, managed to institute the 1 game advantage into the playoffs. The very next season they didn’t finish 1st, and promptly got swept out of the playoffs 2nd round thanks to the 1 game advantage given to the Fighters that year (I think). Funny stuff, but confusing for the casual fan.

  • Got to love the irony of abused power turning around and biting an odds-stacker in the ass.

    If you’re going to have playoffs, have playoffs. The Pennant winners still get a bye to Stage 2, which is a pretty big advantage. If it’s just not acceptable to have the Pennant winners not go to the Japan Series, go back to having no playoffs. This whole business of playoffs on unequal footing just highlights the parochial attitudes, warped power structures, and and sclerosis of NPB in general and the CL in particular.