1998 JAPAN SERIES: Yokohama BayStars vs Seibu Lions

Champion:Yokohama BayStars (2nd time)
4 games to 2
Most Valuable Player: Takanori Suzuki

October 26 at Yokohama Stadium (29,289 audience)
Both teams had chances to score, but could not hit a runner home until the 8th inning. Lions' ace Fumiya Nishiguchi was still pitching in the 8th. He was grounded the ball at one out, and it appeared that the shortstop touched BayStars' runner aiming for 2nd base. But the umpire called it safe, and the Lions' coaches came running to the field and complained fiercely. It didn't help though. With runners now on 1st and 2nd, Norihiro Komada doubled and both runners came home. Komada gave a satisfactory smile. In the final inning, it was no other than Kazuhiro Sasaki who came to relief for the BayStars. First to bat against him was Koji Ohtsuka--his teammate at Tohoku Fukushi University. Ohtsuka slammed Sasaki's pitch to the outfield, and Takanori Suzuki lost track of the ball. Ohtsuka took advantage of the flub and made it to 3rd base. Sasaki walked Domingo Martinez after striking out Rudy Pemberton. Then Satoshi Nakajima grounded the ball. The infielders were not quick enough to take any runners out, and Ohtsuka came home. However, pinch hitter Yoshiaki Kanemura allowed the BayStars to wrap up the game and the series.

October 24 at Seibu Dome ( 31,756 audience)
It was raining all day long--almost the whole day. Just a few hours before the game the rain stopped. The BayStars exploded from the beginning. It scored every inning until the 4th inning. In that inning, BayStars' captain Norihiro Komada who is dubbed the man for loaded bases got his turn to bat in that situation. All runners came home as he doubled. By the way, there was an inning where the Lions shined. This was in the 8th inning. Ken Suzuki singled a homer and pinch hitter Pemberton blasted a 2 run homer. But in the 9th, the Bay Stars' "machine gun" line-up was incredible adding 7 runs. The game finished 17 to 5. The BayStars' marked a total 20 base hits for a new Japan Series record.

October 23 at Seibu Dome (31,685 audience)
It rained in the afternoon, but the weather improved before the start of the game. Pitchers Hiroki Nomura started for the Bay Stars and Takashi Ishii for the Lions. Satoshi Nakajima was again in the starting line-up as the Lions' catcher. This time, he homered a 2 run to lead off the game. The Bay Stars caught up with Takanori Suzuki's 2 run. Then in the 6th inning, Domingo Martinez gave the Lions back the lead with his 2 run home run. The Lions won its 2nd straight game 4 to 2 to tie with the Bay Stars.

October 22 at Seibu Dome (31,599 audience)
The first game at Seibu Dome was rained out on Oct. 21. 500 fans were waiting in the rain but in vain. The last time a Japan Series game was delayed 2 days was 22 years ago. The next day,Oct. 22 was a fair day. The Lions changed their regular catcher Tsutomu Itoh to a former Blue Wave Satoshi Nakajima. Meanwhile, the Bay Stars pitchers were in pretty bad shape. For example, the starter, Daisuke Miura walked 4 in just one inning. In all, BayStar's pitchers walked 11 marking a Japan Series record. Besides, the BayStars' infielders worsened the situation with their careless defense. The Lions were able to score 2 runs in the 2nd inning. Miura was gone after walking 2 more in the 3rd inning. There, the Lions batted in another 2 runs. In the 7th inning, top base stealer of the league, Kazuo Matsui at last was able to show his stuff. With bases loaded, he doubled. All runners came home. The Lions at last won 7 to 2.

October 19 at Yokohama Stadium (29,076 audience)
The Lions, different from the previous day, appeared to take off to a good start. Taisai Takagi who was first in the Lions' line-up, batted a 2 base hit. Then BayStars' starting pitcher Takashi Saitoh fumbled with the ball while the Lions got runners on 1st and 3rd with no outs. However, Saitoh was able to overcome the critical inning without having to lose a run. In the bottom of that inning, the BayStars instead, batted in a run. Central League leading hitter Takanori Suzuki was in such good shape, he was got on base all 4 times at bat to contribute to the team. Saitoh, in the end, shut out the Lions 4 to 0. He's only the 9th pitcher in the history of the Japan Series to hurl throughout the game by keeping the opponent from scoring a run.

October 18 at Yokohama Stadium (29,025 audience)
The series was originally scheduled to be opened on Oct. 17. But it was rained out due to the approack of typhoon number 10. So for the first time in 11 years, the start of the Japan Series was pushed to the next day. Indeed, the reschedule opening day was a beautiful sunshiny day. The spectators cheered on the BayStars in a manner more like at a soccer game. A big wave would occur from time to time. The BayStars responded well to the avid support of the fans. In the first inning, the Central League champ batted in a run. Then in the 3rd, the Bay Stars exploded with hits after another. The Lions starting pitcher, Fumiya Nishiguchi had to leave the mound. The BayStars continued to extend the lead while the Lions errored in the field. Lions' Taisei Takagi's 2 run homer did not boost the team's spirit. He actually ruined the tense atmosphere of the game in the 8th inning at 2 outs. Takagi tried to steal 3rd base with another runner on 1st, but failed. This happened when BayStars' super relief pitcher Kazuhiro Sasaki hurled with difficulty, perhaps affected by a tonsilitus he has had for the past 2 days. Sasaki finished the final inning safely, and the BayStars captured the 1st game 9 to 4.