1996 JAPAN SERIES: TOKYO GIANTS VS ORIX BLUE WAVE
(The best of 7 series from October 19)
The Blue Wave became Japan Champion for the first time since the team was sold from
Hankyu in 1989. It was a whooping 4 games to 1 victory.
Troy Neel is the Most Valuable Player!
October 24 (Green Stadium Kobe)
The Giants succeeded in scoring first. In the 3rd inning, rookie Toshihisa Nishi swung in his 2nd homerun in this series. In the bottom of that inning though, with runners on 2nd and 3rd bases, Troy Neel doubled, bringing in both runners home. Giants' ace pitcher Masaki Saitoh was removed after walking a batter. Another award winning pitcher Hirofumi Kono replaced Saitoh, but did no better. He lost 3 runs. In the top of the next inning, Hiromichi Ochiai came home after Shinji Inoue hit a dubious single. A video replay shows the outfielder, Atsuhiro Motonishi catching the ball with his met touching the ground! Of course, Orix manager Akira Ohgi was not convinced with the umpire's judgement and took the entire team off the field for 10 minutes. The Giants had their chance to score in more runs in the 8th inning. Masahiro Kawai hit a single, and Hideki Matsui a double. But that was it. Nishi became Giants'final batter. The consequence of the game was a 5 to 2 victory for the Blue Wave. The drama has ended in the 5th games of the series.
October 23 (Green Stadium Kobe)
It's the first time in this series that the Giants were the first to score. In the 2nd inning, Shane Mack advanced to third base when Takeshi Ohmori doubled, and catcher Shinichi Murata singled to bring in the 2 players home. In the bottom of the 3rd inning, Japan Series hero Koichi Ohshima hit in a run for the Blue Wave. But after that, the Blue Wave couldn't score. Giants pitcher, Masao Kida who came on from the 4th inning did not let them. Meanwhile, Ohmori blasted a homerun in the 6th inning. In the 7th, with bases loaded, Blue Wave pitcher Hiroshi Kobayashi walked 2 batters. The Giants, at last, won a game in the Japan Series. The game finished 5 to 1.
October 22 (Green Stadium Kobe)
The Orix Blue Wave batters started off well in the 3rd game of the Japan Series. Koichi Ohshima came home in the 1st inning when Doug Jennings singled to the center. Giants Shane Mack hit a homerun in the 2nd inning. However, Giants starting pitcher Balvino Galvez did not show any sign of recovery and lost more hits in the bottom of the 2nd inning. The pitcher who replaced Galvez, Katsuhito Mizuno didn't do any better that in just that inning the Blue Wave batted in 4 runs. In the 6th inning, Giants rookie Toshihisa Nishi smashed in a homerun-- but in vain. The Blue Wave won their 3rd game in this championship series, 5 to 2.
October 20 (Tokyo Dome)
It was a close and irritating game for the Giants fan. Giants pitcher Hiromu Makihara had 3 perfect innings. Then in the 4th inning, Makihara lost 2 runs. It began with a single by Koichi Ohshima, followed by a single by Ichiro and Troy Neel's hit. In the 7th inning, the Giants had a chance to catch up with the Blue Wave. Hideki Matsui hit a double, Hiromichi Ochiai was walked. Shane Mack was replaced by Koji Gohoh who attempted a bunt. But the ball popped up. The pitcher caught it and Matsui who was already heading toward third base could not make it back to second. Giants' team spirit seemed to sink there. Blue Wave manager Akira Ohgi meanwhile changed pitcher after pitchers. His strategy proved to be successful. The Blue Wave pitchers kept the Giants from scoring at all. The Blue Wave won this game too--this time, 2 to 0.
October 19 (Tokyo Dome)
The series took off to a dramatic start. This is how it went. Starting pitcher for the Giants was as expected, Masaki Saitoh. Blue Wave starter was Nobuyuki Hoshino who won 13 games against 5 losses this season. Hiromichi Ochiai who pulled out from his team in early September after he broke a bone in his left hand seemed fully recovered. He batted in a run in the first inning and smacked 2 more hits which unfortunately did not lead to a score for the Giants. Anyway, Saitoh pitched superb. But in the 8th inning he was taken off the mound after losing a run with bases loaded. Kazuhisa Kawaguchi who replaced Saitoh, took out Ichiro, but lost 2 runs to Troy Neel. In the 9th, Giants' pinch hitter Takeshi Ohmori blasted a 2 run homer to come even with the Blue Wave. The game went into the 10th inning. There, Ichiro faced pitcher Hirofumi Kono. He blasted a homerun. That point gave the Blue Wave the first game of the Japan Series.
Pre Japan Series Info
29,000 people lined up in front of the Tokyo Dome to buy a Japan Series ticket which went on sale the morning of October 11. The line is reported to have stretched 3.5 kilometers. Never have so many people got in line to purchase a baseball ticket at one time. The first person in line has been there from the afternoon the day before. Tickets went on sale in 17 other locations that day.
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