The Hanshin Tigers finally lifted the regular season championship trophy. It took a whopping 18 years to create this scene. This time, he will attempt to win the Japan Series for the first time in 38 years.
The Hanshin Tigers won 4-3 in the 2023 Japan Professional Baseball ‘rival’ Yomiuri Giants in a home match held at Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan on the 14th (Korean time), and returned to the Central League for the first time in 18 years since 2005. I enjoyed winning the regular season.메이저놀이터
It was a regular season victory that took a really long time. Hanshin defeated ‘rival’ Yomiuri 4-0 the previous day (13th), leaving them with the magic number 1 to win the Central League championship. Hiroto Saiki, who is having a ‘career high’ season, took on the important role of starting in a game where he could have secured the championship on his own.
On this day, Hanshin had Koji Chikamoto (center fielder) – Takumu Nakano (second baseman) – Shota Morishita (right fielder) – Yusuke Oyama (first baseman) – Teruaki Sato (third baseman) – Noiji Sheldon (left fielder) – Seishiro Sakamoto (catcher) – The game started with a starting lineup consisting of Seiya Kinami (shortstop) and Hiroto Saiki (pitcher).
The beginning and middle of the game was truly a pitching battle full of tension. Starter Saiki got off to a three-way start by striking out two against Yomiuri’s top batting lineup in the first inning, and despite the first hit in the second inning, he caught all three outs on fly balls. And in the 3rd inning, they blocked Yomiuri’s batting line without allowing any runs, and in the 4th inning, they cruised by making all the outs with one ground ball and two fly balls to first base.
Saiki’s solid pitching continued. Saiki finished the inning with two strikeouts in the 5th inning, and went on the mound in the 6th inning to thoroughly clean up the Yomiuri batting lineup by putting Hisayoshi Chono on a pitcher’s grounder, Kadowaki Makoto on a catcher’s foul fly, and Maru Yoshihiro on a second baseman’s grounder. Completed a shutout and quality start (less than 3 earned runs in 6 innings). And the balance was lost in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Hanshin, who had been struggling without scoring a single point despite having several chances to score, cracked the tight flow in the 6th inning. Hanshin had a chance to score when leadoff hitter Chikamoto got on base and then Morishita hit a hit. Here, Oyama traded his out count for a point to take the lead, and Sato hit a runaway two-run gun to widen the gap to 3-0.
Then Yomiuri also went in pursuit. Saiki, who had pitched 6 scoreless innings, allowed a solo home run to Kazuma Okamoto. Accordingly, Hanshin scored another run in the bottom of the 7th inning, maintaining a 3-point lead. After starting pitcher Saiki completed his mission, Hanshin started to crack down on the back door by activating the bullpen in earnest. However, after giving up one run in the 8th inning, the gap narrowed to 4-2.
It was a game where you couldn’t let down your guard until the end. To conclude the game, Hanshin brought in closer Suguru Iwazaki in the top of the 9th inning, but allowed a solo home run to Hayato Sakamoto with no runner on and one out. And the game took an unknown direction as he gave up a double to follow-up hitter Akihiro Yuto. However, Iwazaki did not waver, and calmly put an end to the game by turning all of the follow-up batters with hits, and with 11 consecutive wins, he lifted the regular season championship trophy for the first time in 18 years.
Prior to the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in March of this year, the Korean national team suffered a shocking loss to the Orix Buffaloes 1.5 team. However, in the match against Hanshin, where all first-team players were present, they achieved victory, and the morale that had fallen after losing to players close to second-team strength naturally boiled over again. However, at that time, Hanshin was struggling to the point where it could not achieve a single win in practice or exhibition games. At the time, no one thought Hanshin would be able to win the regular season.
However, the practice games and exhibition games were literally just practice and exhibition games. Hanshin started the season with four consecutive wins for the first time in 15 years, including defeating the Yokohama DeNA BayStars in the opening game under coach Akinobu Okada, who wore the Hanshin uniform for the first time in 15 years since 2008. And they swept up a whopping 19 wins, including a 7-game winning streak in May, and took the lead in the Central League with a win-loss margin of +17 wins prior to the exchange match.
That doesn’t mean there wasn’t a crisis. Immediately after the end of the exchange match, Hanshin suffered a shocking third straight loss in a match against Yokohama DeNA, which was competing for the lead, and fell to second place. And it seemed like they would rise to first place again, but after the All-Star break, they lost first place to the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. However, they started to get into the swing of things again and went on a whopping 11 consecutive wins, leading to their first win in 18 years.
After winning the championship, the Hanshin players gathered on the mound and rinsed Coach Okada six times to experience the joy of winning. Some of the players caught on the broadcast screen seemed unable to hide their tears as they won the championship they had longed for for so long. This also applies to fans. On this day, 42,648 spectators visited Koshien Stadium, and even after the players’ regular season victory ceremony ended, they seemed unable to leave the stadium.
Osaka was literally excited by Hanshin’s win. After Hanshin won the championship, fans began to appear in Dotonbori, Osaka’s largest shopping district, performing a performance by jumping into the river. Accordingly, police were deployed to prevent the violent behavior of fans who were intoxicated by the victory.
Now Hanshin looks to win the ‘Japan Series’. Hanshin’s first and last Japan Series victory was in 1985. Although they had won a total of five regular season championships before today’s victory, they had a hard time winning the Japan Series championship title. Will Hanshin be able to resolve the resentment that has been brewing for 38 years?