2022 Japan Series
The 2022 Japan Series is the 73rd match-up of the champions of the Central League and Pacific League, Japan's top two circuits. After last year's worst-to-first Series, this one was instead a first-to-first as it was a rematch of 2021, when Yakult beat Orix. Unlike last year, Orix emerged triumphant, winning the last four games.
Managed by Satoshi Nakajima, Orix had tied for the best record in the 2022 PL at 76-65-2 then beat the Softbank Hawks 3 games to 1 in the playoffs. They outscored opponents on average 3.43-3.20 in a low offensive environment, finishing 4th in the PL in offense but second in pitching. Masataka Yoshida (.335/.477/.561, 80 BB, 21 HR, 88 RBI) led the league in OPS, was second in average and slugging. OF/1B Keita Nakagawa had their next-best OPS, batting .283/.326/.441 and leading the league with nine triples. Yoshinobu Yamamoto (15-5, 1.68 ERA, .93 WHIP, 205 K in 193 IP) repeated as a pitching Triple Crown winner. Joining him on a fine staff were Taisuke Yamaoka (6-8, 2.60), Daiki Tajima (9-3, 2.66), Hiroya Miyagi (11-8, 3.16) and Sachiya Yamasaki (5-8, 3.45). The bullpen was led by Shota Abe (1-0, 3 Sv, 0.61) and Yoshihisa Hirano (3-2, 28 Sv, 1.57).
Yakult led the CL pennant race then swept the Hanshin Tigers in three games in the playoffs. They easily led the league in offense (4.33 R/G) but the second-worst pitching/defense (3.96 R/G). 3B Munetaka Murakami (.318/.458/.711, 114 R, 56 HR, 134 RBI, 118 BB) set a NPB record for home runs by a Japanese player, won a Triple Crown and led in walks in a dominant performance. Also going deep at least 15 times were OF Domingo Santana (.275/.354/.550), OF Yasutaka Shiomi (.276/.345/.453, 30 2B, 83 R, 24 SB), 2B Tetsuto Yamada (.243/.333/.456, 31 2B) and 1B José Osuna (.272/.312/.440, 74 RBI). Keiji Takahashi (8-2, 2.63) and Yasuhiro Ogawa (8-8, 2.82) were their most effective starters while numerous relievers excelled: Noboru Shimizu (5-4, 1.26), Kazuto Taguchi (1-1, 2 Sv, 1.25), Taichi Ishiyama (2-0, 1.75) and Scott McGough (2-2, 38 Sv, 2.35). Their manager was Shingo Takatsu.
Yakult's heavy hitters got the better of Orix's pitching in the opener. They got to the stellar Orix ace in the bottom of the first as CF Shiomi singled, 3B Murakami drew a two-out walk and 1B Osuna doubled them both in, part of a 3-for-3 day for the former Pirate. In the second, Orix tied it against Ogawa. LF Yoshida walked, then they got three straight one-out hits from 2B Masahiro Nishino, C Kenya Wakatsuki and SS Kotaro Kurebayashi to make it 2-1. After a strikeout, CF Shuhei Fukuda drew a four-pitch walk to force in the tying run.
In the third, Yakult retook the lead when Shiomi took Yamamoto deep. Osuna crushed one to left-center in the 4th and it was 4-2. Yamamoto left in the fifth with pain in his left side and it was unclear how serious the injury was. It was the only time this year he had allowed two homers in a game, having surrendered only six all season (including the playoffs). Orix made it a one-run game in the 8th. Nishino singled off Noboru Shimizu and was bunted over. With two outs, PH Takahiro Okada singled him in. Murakami homered off Hirano in the bottom of the inning to give Yakult some insurance. Last year's Game 1 goat, McGough, allowed two men on with one out in the 9th but recovered to strike out RF Yutaro Sugimoto and PH Yuma Tongu to notch the save.
Swallows: Soma Uchiyama
Sixteen hurlers were used in a 3-3 Game 2 tie. Orix held the lead most of the way before a dramatic tying homer. In the top of the third, SS Kurebayashi doubled off Cy Sneed. With one out, P Yamasaki helped his own cause with a RBI single. Two more singles (by 2B Ryoichi Adachi and 3B Yuma Mune) and an error by RF Santana made it 2-0. In the 5th, Adachi doubled off Hiroki Ohnishi and scored on a two-out single by RF Sugimoto. Yamasaki, Soichiro Yamazaki, Yuki Udagawa and Jacob Waguespack kept the powerful Swallow offense in check as Orix took a 3-0 lead into the 9th.
Orix turned to the young Abe, so dominant in the regular season. He allowed a leadoff double to backup LF Takeshi Miyamoto and CF Shiomi drew a walk. Takatsu brought up rookie catcher Soma Uchiyama as a pinch-hitter. In his first Japan Series at-bat, he drilled a three-run homer to left to knot it up. Neither team scored in extra innings. Orix came close in the 12th but fell shy.
Swallows: Tetsuto Yamada
The Series went to Orix's home but Yakult rolled to a 2-0 Series lead. For the first four innings, Yakult's Takahashi and Orix's Miyagi exchanged goose eggs. In the top of the fifth, Miyagi flagged. C Yuhei Nakamura and DH Santana singled. Miyagi retired LF Patrick Kivlehan and SS Hideki Nagaoka. That brought up 2B Yamada. Yakult's captain had been hitless so far in the Series but he got the big hit today, delivering a three-run dinger. In the 7th, they got insurance off Higa. PH Kazuya Maruyama laid down a bunt hit then stole second with one out. Yamada walked and both advanced on a grounder, then CF Shiomi was plunked. 3B Murakami drew a bases-loaded walk to force in a run.
Yakult got their last runs in the 9th. PH Kotaro Yamasaki had a one-out hit off Hitomi Honda and Shiomi got plunked again. Murakami smacked a two-run double and 1B Osuna drove him in to make it 7-0. Orix at least avoided a shutout in the bottom of the 9th when they had three-straight one-out hits off Reiji Kozawa - by RF Nakagawa, DH Sugimoto and PH Nishino.
Orix mustered only three hits but it was enough for their first win of the Series as four hurlers combined to blank the powerful Swallows. 42-year-old Masanori Ishikawa turned in a fine outing but didn't duplicate his Game 4 win of a year prior against the Buffaloes. Orix threatened in the bottom of the first. CF Kodai Sano singled off Ishikawa and with two outs, LF Yoshida and DH Tongu drew walks but RF Sugimoto struck out. In the bottom of the third, Sugimoto made it up for it with a two-out RBI double to drive in 1B Nakagawa, who had walked. It was the last hit and only run allowed by Ishikawa, but he took the loss.
CF Shiomi tripled off Yamaoka with one away in the fifth to chase him in favor of Udagawa, who struck out RF Kotaro Yamasaki and 2B Yamada to strand the runner. Yakult got men on second and third in the sixth but Udagawa again got a clutch K, this time against C Nakamura. Soichiro Yamazaki and Waguespaek allowed only one hit over the final three to wrap it up.
Swallows: Domingo Santana
Buffaloes: Masataka Yoshida 2
Orix evened up the Series with the second big bottom-of-the-ninth homer of the week.
Yakult got to Tajima in the first on hits by veteran LF Nori Aoki and 1B Osuna. In the second, DH Santana took Tajima deep for a 2-0 lead. Orix tied it in the fourth. RF Sugimoto and 3B Mune had one-out singles off rookie Hikaru Yamashita. With two outs, SS Kurebayashi (the #8 hitter) and C Wakatsuki (from the 9 spot) each delivered RBI hits to even the score. In the 5th, DH Yoshida homered off Yamashita to put Orix in front, 3-2.
The lead didn't last long. With one out in the top of the 6th, C Nakamura doubled off Taisuke Kondo. SS Nagaoka drove him in with two outs, then CF Shiomi got a hit. Aoki doubled in Nagaoka and Yakult was back ahead, 4-3. Ishiyama and Shimizu maintained that lead into the ninth, when they turned it over to closer McGough for the save. He walked PH Adachi to lead off the inning and a bunt advanced the runner. 2B Nishino got an infield hit, then McGough struck out LF Nakagawa; a throwing error by McGough tied it. Yoshida again delivered, though, blasting the game-winning homer to knot the Series at two.
The Swallows dropped a home game for the first time this Series. CF Shiomi had a leadoff hit off Yamasaki and Yakult did not get another hit the rest of the day against Yamasaki or four relivers, Waguespack closing it out by retiring the heart of the Yakult lineup (Yamada, Murakami and Osuna). CF Nakagawa made two fine catches to preserve the one-hitter. That ruined a fine day for Ogawa, who shut out Orix for the first five to match Yamasaki. In the sixth, 1B Ryota Ota had a one-out single, was bunted over and scored on a hit by RF Sugimoto. It remained 1-0 until the 9th. 2B Adachi opened the 9th with a hit off McGough then SS Kurebayashi bunted into an error by McGough, his second ofthe Series, scoring a run. With one out, PH Nishino hit a sac fly for the game's last run.
Buffaloes: Ryota Ota
Swallows: José Osuna (2)
Orix got another excellent starting pitching performance, this time from Miyagi, who went five scoreless, allowing three hits and fanning five. Sneed did not fare as well for Yakult; Ota took his first pitch of the game deep. In the fifth, they got the rest of their runs, insurance that would be most needed. C Torai Fushimi singled. Pitcher Miyagi laid down a lucky bunt single and Ota also bunted his way aboard to load the bases. 3B Mune lined into a double play by Osuna to quiet things down, but only briefly. CF Nakagawa was walked to load them back up and Sneed plunked LF Yoshida to force in a run and make it 2-0. RF Sugimoto (who would win the Series MVP) flew to center but an error by CF Shiomi led to all three runners scoring.
Udagawa followed Miyagi with shutout work. In the 8th, Yamazaki took the mound and Yakult got their first runs in 20 innings. CF Shiomi led off with a single, then LF Maruyama also singled. With one out, 3B Murakami singled in Shiomi. 1B Osuna then launched a three-run homer to cut the gap to one. Higa took over and got the last two outs, then Waguespack notched his third save of the Series with a 1-2-3 ninth, retiring Shiomi to end it.
|Nippon Professional Baseball's Nippon Series
1950 | 1951 | 1952 | 1953 | 1954 | 1955 | 1956 | 1957 | 1958 | 1959