It was a 10-10 game. The final game of the Nippon Professional Baseball 2023 season decided second, third, and fourth place in the Pacific League.
Rakuten Mobile Stadium in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan on April 10. The game between Chiba Lotte and Rakuten was scheduled to start at 6 p.m., but was delayed by 30 minutes due to rain. The game was the fate of “fall baseball” for three teams: Chiba Lotte, Rakuten, and SoftBank, which had already completed its regular season.
Second-place SoftBank ended the season with 71 wins, 69 losses, and three ties (.5071 winning percentage) with a loss to the Orix on Sept. 9. SoftBank clinched a spot in the Climax Series, but the second and third place positions were not decided. The loss in the final game prevented them from clinching second place, which would have given them home field for the first stage of the Climax Series.
If Chiba Lotte wins the final game on Tuesday, it will finish second with 70 wins, 68 losses and five ties (.5072 winning percentage), one point ahead of SoftBank. A draw would put them in third place with 69 wins, 68 losses and six draws (.504 winning percentage). If Chiba Lotte loses, the positions are reversed with 68 wins, 68 losses, and five draws (.500 win percentage) and Rakuten with 71 wins, 70 losses, and two draws (.504 win percentage). Rakuten advances to the climax in third place, while Chiba Lotte is eliminated in fourth.
With a 5-0 win over Rakuten, Chiba Lotte edged out SoftBank for second place by one point. Chiba Lotte will have home field advantage for the first stage.
Chiba Lotte opened the scoring in the top of the second inning when Yamaguchi doubled to left and scored on an RBI single by Oka. Yasuda’s solo home run off the left field pole in the fourth inning made it 2-0. Ogino’s pitcher’s interference hit put runners on first and third in the seventh inning, and Sato’s two-run double up the middle in the eighth made it 5-0.안전놀이터
Chiba Lotte starter Kazuya Kojima pitched a complete game shutout in a game that was elimination if they lost. She scattered six hits and struck out three in seven innings for her 10th win of the season. Reached 10 wins for the second straight year. Ended the fifth and sixth innings with infield singles, including a bases-loaded single to shortstop in the first inning.
Chiba Lotte was in first place midway through the season, keeping their hopes alive of winning the league title for the first time in 49 years since 1974. However, “Perfect Pitcher” Roki Sasaki was sidelined for three weeks in mid-May with blisters on his fingers, and in late July he suffered a side injury, and after a quick rehabilitation, he returned in 48 days, but did not win a game in his last two appearances. By the end of September, he was no longer able to pitch in the regular season after contracting COVID-19.
By the end of September, Sasaki wasn’t the only one infected, as many of Chiba Lotte’s main players were infected, and 11 players were removed from the first team roster. The team suffered a seven-game losing streak at the end of September, putting their postseason hopes in jeopardy, but rebounded with a 5-2 record in the season finale to reclaim second place.
Chiba Lotte will host SoftBank in the first stage of the Climax Series (best-of-three) at ZOZO Marine Stadium on April 14.