2010 Japan Series
|Dates:||October 30 – November 7|
|MVP:||Toshiaki Imae (Marines)|
|FSA:||Kazuhiro Wada (Dragons)|
The 2010 Japan Series was the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) championship series for the 2010 season. It was the 61st Japan Series and featured the Pacific League champions, the Chiba Lotte Marines, against the Central League champions, the Chunichi Dragons.
|First stage||Final stage||Japan Series|
|Central League||C1||Chunichi Dragons||4|
|C2||Hanshin Tigers||0||C3||Yomiuri Giants||1|
|C3||Yomiuri Giants||2||C1||Chunichi Dragons||2|
|P3||Chiba Lotte Marines||4|
|Pacific League||P1||Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks||3|
|P2||Saitama Seibu Lions||0||P3||Chiba Lotte Marines||4|
|P3||Chiba Lotte Marines||2|
|1||October 30||Chiba Lotte Marines – 5, Chunichi Dragons – 2||Nagoya Dome||3:27||38,066|
|2||October 31||Chiba Lotte Marines – 1, Chunichi Dragons – 12||Nagoya Dome||3:23||38,065|
|3||November 2||Chunichi Dragons – 1, Chiba Lotte Marines – 7||Chiba Marine Stadium||2:47||26,923|
|4||November 3||Chunichi Dragons – 4, Chiba Lotte Marines – 3||Chiba Marine Stadium||4:41||27,197|
|5||November 4||Chunichi Dragons – 4, Chiba Lotte Marines – 10||Chiba Marine Stadium||3:22||27,209|
|6||November 6||Chiba Lotte Marines – 2 , Chunichi Dragons – 2||Nagoya Dome||5:43||38,094|
|7||November 7||Chiba Lotte Marines – 8 , Chunichi Dragons – 7||Nagoya Dome||4:56||38,075|
Chiba Lotte Marines
In what was a roller coaster of a year for seemingly the entire Pacific League, the Chiba Lotte Marines finished third in the league behind the second-place Saitama Seibu Lions and the first-place Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks. In the first round, Lotte earned the nickname "Miracle Marines" after pulling off two extra-inning wins, the first of which came thanks to a four-run 9th inning comeback against Seibu. Lotte continued their comeback trend after rallying from a 3-games-to-1 deficit against the Hawks to win the Pacific League title, their first since 2005.
The team was led by a rookie manager, former player Norifumi Nishimura. Many of the team's components from the 2005 championship year were still in place, as Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Toshiaki Imae, Saburo Ohmura, and Kazuya Fukuura were all still in the lineup and contributing. New faces littered the pitching staff and the lineup, as Yoshihisa Naruse won 13 games and was the ace of the staff, but the Marines true pitching strength came from the back end of the bullpen, with one-time Major Leaguer Yasuhiko Yabuta, Takuya Furuya and Tatsuya Uchi all were potent middle relievers, setting up for starter-turned-closer Hiroyuki Kobayashi.
The Dragons had been perennial contenders in the Central League, but had been ousted in the Climax Series by the Giants each of the last two years. Chunichi took first place in the CL and defeated their rivals to reach the Japan Series, needing just four games to do so. Chunichi owned the lowest team ERA in the league at just 3.29, but were next to last in stolen bases and in team batting average.
Despite using 13 different starters during the season, the Dragons still had a potent pitching staff. Taiwanese lefty Wei-yin Chen led the team with 13 wins, while Kazuki Yoshimi had 12. Like the Marines, the Dragons' strength was the back of their bullpen. Takuya Asao and Akifumi Takahashi made for a potent two-headed relief monster, as they combined for 78 holds. Hitoki Iwase, the team's longtime closer, recorded 42 saves in 2010.
|WP: Yoshihisa Naruse (1–0) LP: Kazuki Yoshimi (0–1) Sv: Hiroyuki Kobayashi (1)
LOT: Ikuhiro Kiyota (1), Tadahito Iguchi (1)
CHU: Kazuhiro Wada (1), Motonobu Tanishige (1)
Starting on short rest after the deciding Game 7 win, Naruse was pegged as the Game 1 starter against veteran Kazuki Yoshimi. After matching 1-2-3 innings in the first, Lotte scored the first run of the Japan Series on a two-out RBI double by Shoitsu Omatsu that scored Saburo. However, the Dragons would strike back in the bottom of the inning, as hometown hero Kazuhiro Wada and venerable catcher Motonobu Tanishige, playing in his 5th Japan Series, each hit solo home runs for a 2-1 lead.
However, that lead would he short-lived as Lotte countered with two more runs in the top of the 3rd. Rookie outfielder Ikuhiro Kiyota hit a solo blast of his own after hitting just two in the regular season to tie the score. Tadahito Iguchi legged out an infield single to continue the assault, and Saburo was hit with a pitch to set up 2005 Japan Series MVP, Toshiaki Imae. Imae got a base hit that scored Iguchi, but Saburo was thrown out at third trying to get the extra base. Kim Tae-Kyun was hit with a pitch to put Imae in scoring position, but Yoshifumi Okada could not drive him home. Even still, the Marines led, 3-2. That would prove to be the end of the day for Yoshimi, as he gave up three runs on six hits in three innings. He also walked one, struck out two, and hit two batters.
Naruse kept the Chunichi bats off the board through the 5th inning, as he did not let another Dragons runner reach scoring position. The Pacific League Climax Series MVP gave up two runs on four hits, with six strikeouts and a walk on 88 pitches (he was pinch-hit for in the 6th). The Marines bullpen also held the line, as Yabuta, Uchi, and Yoshihiro Itoh all delivered perfect innings, with Yabuta and Itoh each striking out two batters.
Meanwhile, the Marines batters had a little better luck with the Chunichi bullpen, namely Masafumi Hirai. Nishioka hit an RBI single to score Okada, who had reached and was sacrificed to second for the Marines' run in the 6th. In the 7th, Iguchi supplied the offense himself with a solo home run, the fourth total in the game. The blast ran the score to 5-2.
Hiroyuki Kobayashi came on to slam the door like he had since his resurgence as a closer in the second half of the season. Pinch-hitter Kei Nomoto singled his way on to begin the 9th, but he was erased as part of a 6-4-3 double play. Wada also singled, but was thrown out attempting to stretch it into a double to end the game.
Sunday, October 31, 2010 at Nagoya Dome in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture
|WP: Chen Wei-Yin (1–0) LP: Bill Murphy (0–1)
CHU: Tony Blanco (1)
|WP: Shunsuke Watanabe (1–0) LP: Kazuki Yoshimi (0–1)|
Wednesday, November 3, 2010 at Chiba Marine Stadium in Chiba City, Chiba Prefecture
|WP: Akifumi Takahashi (1–0) LP: Yoshihiro Ito (0–1) Sv: Hitoki Iwase (1)
LOT: Tadahito Iguchi (2)
Thursday, November 4, 2010 at Chiba Marine Stadium in Chiba City, Chiba Prefecture
|WP: Hayden Penn (1–0) LP: Kenichi Nakata (0–1)
CHU: Tony Blanco (2)
LOT: Saburo Ohmura (1)
Saturday, November 6, 2010 at Nagoya Dome in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture
Nicknamed "There are ties in baseball without Bud Selig" because of the tie game nature of this game, Lotte LF Ikuhiro Kiyota's one-out double off Takuya Asao was the game-tying hit in the top of the eighth to knot the game up at 2-2. The teams played 7 1/2 scoreless innings after that, and was tied at the end of the 15th, and final, inning under NPB's curfew.
Under the rules of the series, Chunichi had to win Game 7 in order to push it to a Game 8.
Sunday, November 7, 2010 at Nagoya Dome in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture
|WP: Yoshihiro Ito (1-1) LP: Takuya Asao (0-1)|