The Tokyo Yakult Swallows overcame the best pitcher in Japan to become the best team in Japan.
Pinch hitter Shingo Kawabata hit a bloop single to left to bring in the go-ahead run in the top of the 12th, and reliever Scott McGough closed out an entertaining Japan Series as the Swallows won the title with a 2-1 victory over the Orix Buffaloes at Hotto Motto Field Kobe on Nov. 27.
Yakult won the series 4-2.
“It was a really difficult season,” Swallows manager Shingo Takatsu said. “It was even more difficult because we sank to last place last year and the year before that. But I think the joy is even greater.”
The Swallows won their first Japan Series title since 2001 and claimed the first by a Central League team since 2012 to end a run of dominance by Pacific League clubs.
Yakult had to overcome a Herculean performance by Orix ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto to get it done. Yamamoto pitched nine innings of one-run ball and struck out 11 on 141 pitches before turning over a tie game to the bullpen in the 10th.
This year’s Japan Series was tightly contested from start to finish, with all six games decided by two runs or fewer and five of the six decided by one run. Game 6 lasted exactly five hours and it took 12 innings to finally find a winner. (The Japan Times)