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Showdown: Hawks-Marines Rematch from 2005

Discussion in the The SoftBank Source forum
Showdown: Hawks-Marines Rematch from 2005
Almost two years before I discovered Japanese baseball for myself and became a fan of the SoftBank Hawks, the team faced off against the Chiba Lotte Marines in the second-ever Pacific League Climax Series Final Stage.

Pro Yakyu historians know what happened, but for those who don't, I'll go over it. Much like this year, the Hawks (who were in their first season under SoftBank ownership) won the PL regular season title, while the Chiba Lotte Marines had a first-year manager in Bobby Valentine and finished third in the league.

After winning the first two games, the Hawks were three outs away from an embarrassing sweep, when all of a sudden, in Game 3, the Hawks finally came to life. Trailing 4-0 against Marines ace closer Masahide Kobayashi, the Hawks rallied for four runs to tie the game in the 9th and send it to extra innings. Munenori Kawasaki started the rally and ended it at the same time with an RBI single in the 11th.

After winning again the next day, the Marines went on to complete the upset, thanks in part to the bat of Tomoya Satozaki, who hit a towering go-ahead double to give the Marines the series win. They would go on to sweep the Hanshin Tigers in the most one-sided Japan Series in the event's history.

Five years later and circumstances are the same, yet different at the same time. The Marines may have another first-year manager in Norifumi Nishimura, but five years ago, the Marines led the league in runs scored and let up the least. They led the PL in runs scored again this year, but were also tied for fourth in the league in runs allowed.

SoftBank's circumstances are very different than five years ago. Their core has aged from that time, and a lot of the lineup is different. The lineup in general his significantly less pop, and relies more on the blazing speed of Kawasaki and Yuichi Honda, who had 89 steals between them this year. They are not the power-laden lineup they once were, but they are fourth in runs scored and second in runs allowed.

However, talk and stats don't mean a thing at this point. The playoffs are an entirely different beast. The Hawks are indeed favored to win, but somehow, with the Hawks not winning a playoff series since their 2003 championship campaign, I can't see them breaking that spell, especially with such a long layoff. I'm calling Marines in six games.
Re: Showdown: Hawks-Marines Rematch from 2005
[ Author: Guest | Posted: Oct 14, 2010 1:02 PM ]

I'm calling Marines in six games

That would be the last game (with one win already given to the Hawks) of the series. That kind of loss would qualify as what baseball fans call "curse."

I personally don't think that the Marines have enough starters to pull it off.
Re: Showdown: Hawks-Marines Rematch from 2005
[ Author: westbaystars | Posted: Oct 14, 2010 11:26 PM | YBS Fan ]

Matsunaka is key. He's been key in every one of the Hawks' failures in post-season. He's been the key out time and again for the opposition. If there is a curse on the Hawks, it's the curse on Matsunaka in post season play.

To break their losing streak, Matsunaka is going to have to perform.

Or he'll have to get himself hurt and out of the lineup. Was that was he was attempting, sliding into first base tonight?

My pick is Lotte in 4. Clean sweep. There will be times when all appears lost, but they'll come back.
Re: Showdown: Hawks-Marines Rematch from 2005
[ Author: NipponHam11 | Posted: Oct 15, 2010 9:22 PM | SFT Fan ]

Very much agreed that Matsunaka is indeed an enigma in the playoffs. Why he has played in two games, I don't know, but I think the DH spot could and should be used on someone else.
Re: Showdown: Hawks-Marines Rematch from 2005
[ Author: Guest | Posted: Oct 21, 2010 3:45 PM ]

This thread needs to be bumped. Did you also expect Naruse's performance down the line?

Unlike 2005, the Hawks get to retain the title Pacific League Champion, although I don't know how consoling it is at this point.
Re: Showdown: Hawks-Marines Rematch from 2005
[ Author: NipponHam11 | Posted: Oct 22, 2010 9:39 PM | SFT Fan ]

Funny thing is that I kinda did expect Naruse to pitch well. I just didn't expect him to be as lights-out as he was. He's too good a pitcher to continue to pitch as poorly as he did against the Hawks, and at least one of his four losses in the regular season was a low-scoring affair.

I don't have the stats on me right now, but Naruse very much looked like the pitcher he was in 2007 in this series.

This is a site about Pro Yakyu (Japanese Baseball), not about who the next player to go over to MLB is. It's a community of Pro Yakyu fans who have come together to share their knowledge and opinions with the world. It's a place to follow teams and individuals playing baseball in Japan (and Asia), and to learn about Japanese (and Asian) culture through baseball.

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Michael Westbay
(aka westbaystars)

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