In a dramatic, 10-inning win over the veteran Yomiuri Giants last night, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles took a 3-2 series lead and look to close out their first Japan Series title at home on Saturday.
As the youngest franchise in the league with only nine seasons underway, the Eagles face the oldest, most successful franchise with 22 Japan Series titles. Both teams dominated in regular season—Rakuten led the Pacific League and Yomiuri was first in the Central League. After both given first-round byes in the playoffs, the Eagles defeated the Chiba Lotte Marines in the Climax Series and the Giants advanced against the Hiroshima Carp.
In a dramatic best-of-seven championship series, the Eagles and Giants have battled in each game in an effort to clinch the series. After losing the first game in Sendai, the Eagles won the next two games to lead the series 2-1, and took a three-run lead late in Game 4. But the Giants rallied at the bottom of the seventh inning and evened the series at 2-2 on Wednesday. In game 5 Thursday night, in front of a lively crowd of 45,000 at the Tokyo Dome, the Eagles defeated the Giants 4-2 in the tenth inning to move within one win from the title.
As the series moves to Sendai this weekend, Rakuten will most likely start their star, 24-0 regular season record pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, in front of the home crowd.
Game 6 will be played at 18:30 on Saturday, November 2, at the Kleenex Miyagi Stadium.
By Sami Kawahara