The Hanshin Tigers are just one win away from winning the Central League title.
Hanshin extended its winning streak to 10 games with a 4-0 victory over the Yomiuri Giants at Hanshin Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya City, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan on March 13. With 79 wins, four ties, and 44 losses, they are one win away from the league lead.
Starting pitcher Koyo Aoyagi earned his eighth win of the season with six innings of four-hit ball, one walk and one strikeout. The bullpen of Colton Brewer (one scoreless inning), Takuma Kirishiki (one scoreless inning), and Daichi Ishii (one scoreless inning) preserved the shutout win. At the plate, Teruaki Sato went 3-for-3 with his 19th home run of the season (a grand slam), a double, a home run, four RBI, one run scored and one walk.
With their 10-game winning streak, Hanshin became just the third team in Nippon Professional Baseball history to win nine or more games in a single season three times in the past 12 years. In addition, all 10 of those wins were earned by starting pitchers. Hanshin, who won 11 consecutive games in 1937 and 1963, will tie the franchise record with a start against Yomiuri on Thursday.
With league runner-up Hiroshima (68 wins, 4 draws, 59 losses) losing on Sunday, Hanshin, which reduced its magic number to one, has a better chance of clinching the league title on Thursday at home against rival Yomiuri. Hanshin has won the Central League title five times (1962, 1964, 1985, 2003, 2005). If they win the league this time, it will be the first time in 18 years since 2005.
As Japanese media outlet Daily Sports put it, “Hanshin reduced its magic number to one with a 10-game winning streak in September. Manager Akinobu Okada expressed his ambition to win the title against Yomiuri in Koshien like he did 18 years ago.”
“We can win the title on our own rather than looking at the results of the other team (Hiroshima),” Okada said. It’s good to know that. I don’t like it when Hiroshima plays away from home. Since it’s an away game, we don’t have many fans and the away stands are far away,” he said, adding that he hoped to win against rival Yomiuri at home.
A league title would take Hanshin one step closer to its second title since 1985. After 37 years without a Japan Series title, Hanshin is hoping for its first in 38 years. Along with Yomiuri, Hanshin is the most popular baseball team in Japan, and its fans are known for being extremely passionate. With the possibility of reaching the Nippon Series for the first time in nine years, since 2014 when Oh Seung-hwan played, Hanshin fans are already celebrating.안전놀이터
In the Kansai region, including Osaka, Hanshin’s hometown, expectations are already high. The Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Osaka issued a security alert on Nov. 11, saying, “The Hanshin Tigers baseball team, popular in the Kansai region, is expected to win the league, and Japanese police authorities have warned that on the day of the team’s victory, Dotonbori becomes overcrowded and various safety and crowd accidents occur.”
Hanshin has been without a championship for so long that it’s been called the Kernel Sanders curse, but will they be able to win the league title and then the Japan Series?