Over the past week in the Pacific League, Softbank clinched a playoff spot on Wednesday, Rakuten clinched their playoff berth on Saturday (its first ever!), and leader Nippon Ham finally seized the league title today after 2nd place Rakuten lost to Lotte 5-2. Just in case Rakuten had won, the Fighters beat Seibu 5-4 on a 12th-inning sacrifice fly. The PL Climax Series should go like this: Rakuten will face Softbank in a three-game series and the winner of that will face Nippon Ham in a best-of-7 with a one game disadvantage.
In the Central League, the struggle for third place continues although Hiroshima seems pretty much out of contention by losing 7-3 to Yokohama on Sunday. Hanshin and Yakult are a half game apart after Tuesday and both are below .500. Yakult has 4 games left to play while Hanshin only has 3 left; coincidentally, the Tigers’ final two are against the Swallows on Oct. 8th & 9th.
As you can probably tell, this weekly feature is late by a day. I’m having some fits of lethargy (a bad excuse) so I’m only going to embed two videos. The first is the bottom of the 12th & celebration from Nippon Ham’s Tuesday win. Listen at the beginning for an stadium organ version of “We Are The Champions”.
The other is the first part of the “hero interview” after Rakuten clinched its first playoff spot ever. The team was formed to even out the Pacific League after Orix & Kintetsu merged in 2004 and this was just their 5th season in existence. 2009 was also their first winning season – their previous best was 67-75-2 (.452) and 4th place in 2007. The last one to speak in this clip is Fernando Seguignol, a Panaman switch-hitter who has bounced between the Japanese and US major leagues. He’s hitting .252 with 14 HR and 54 RBI through Tuesday.