Kenichi Nakata got the start which was a bit of a surprise, but he proved it to be the right decision. Nakata has good velocity on his fastball, but not a lot of movement on it, so he has to locate it well to be successful and that is exactly what he did in Game 1. He was able to throw a lot of first-pitch strikes on the outside corner and was able to tie up a few hitters by going inside and up out of the zone as well. I only saw him make one mistake, which was to Lastings Millidge, but Millidge didn't get all of it and flew out to left field. In the end Nakata went 5 scoreless innings and got the win. He also hit a rocket over Yakult's third baseman in the 3rd inning for a double in his only at-bat.
Kazuhiro Wada was the main hitting star for Chunichi, he started the scoring with a 2-run homer in the 4th and later had an RBI hit in the Dragons 3-run 7th. Wada and Yohei Ohshima each had three hits. Ohshima also showed off his wheels with aggressive baserunning on a couple occasions. He turned what looked like a routine single into a double in the 5th and later in the game advanced from first to third on a base hit into left field.
Shinji Tajima releaved Nakata and cruised through the 6th, though he was a bit wild and threw quite a few pitches. He returned to the mound in the 7th and CL HR King Wladimir Balentien led off the inning by seriously turning around one his fastballs sending it deep to left-center for a solo home run. I'm not sure if that HR shook up Tajima or if he just didn't have his control for this game, but he then walked two of the next three hitters making things tense in what was then still a 3-1 game. Fortunatly, Asao was able to come in and clean up the mess by getting the final two outs without anyone scoring.
Jorge Sosa had control problems of his own in the 8th when he loaded the bases on two walks and a hit. Daisuke Yamai came in at that point to close the door and pitched a perfect 9th. He got the save even though it was a 6-1 lead, because he had entered the game with the bases loaded. I'm not sure if that means he's the team's closer for the postseason or not, but he looked good tonight.
Here's a few other notes from the game:
- I was surprised by a couple other lineup moves aside from the start by Nakata. Morino batted third and Wada batted fifth. I kind of like Wada at the 3rd spot but it didn't really matter in this game because both positions came up multiple times with opportunities to drive runs and Wada saw good pitches to hit. Also, Takehiro Donoue was the starting rightfielder against a left-handed starting pitcher. I was surprised by this, though I think it's good because he's been the best hitter this year out of Chunichi's rightfielders. He looked pretty bad in his first at-bat against the lefty Ishikawa, but came up against a righty reliever in his next at-bat and smoked an RBI base hit to left.
- Hidenori looked like he was pretty pumped up when he got his chance to play in the field, knowing these will be his last games as a pro player. When he got a routing fly in left he tried to throw behind the runner at second, it was a good throw and the runner had to dive to get back.
- The umps were wearing their hats from the Great Central throwback games. Not sure why, but not a bad thing.
- Hiromitsu Ochiai was one of the color commentators for the game on J-Sports.