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Giants confident ahead of CLCS showdown

by Jason Coskrey

Alex Ramirez promised former Yomiuri Giants owner Tsuneo Watanabe five postseason home runs during a ceremony celebrating the team’s 2009 pennant earlier this month.

Chunichi Dragons pitchers, you’ve been warned.

“I’m going to do my best,” said Ramirez, who had a monster year against the Dragons this season. “There’s nothing wrong with trying to hit five home runs. I wish I could hit 10. It’s not going to be easy, but I’m going to do my best to try and keep my promise.”

Ramirez will get his first chance to start making good on his lofty ambition on Wednesday, when he helps lead the Giants against the Dragons in the second stage of the Central League Climax Series.

“They got a really good team,” Ramirez said. “I would say they have a complete team. They have good defense, good offense and the pitching staff is great. So we just gotta focus against these guys.”

The Giants put the finishing touches on their preparations with a light two-hour practice on Tuesday at Tokyo Dome.

“We have to prepare ourselves as usual,” Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said. “Nothing changes. We just have to stay focused on each game and try to win one game at a time.

“We cannot reach our goals, if we don’t beat the Dragons.”

The Giants should have a lot of confidence facing a team they finished 16-8 against this year.

“The regular season is already finished,” Ramirez said. “There’s nothing we can do about that. I wish we could go by that, but the good thing is we have confidence. We played those guys good during the season.

“But it’s a short series, we don’t know what’s going to happen. Anything could happen. So we can’t take anything for granted.”

Ramirez has been the main ingredient in Yomiuri’s success against Chunichi, batting .462 with 10 homers and 25 RBIs against the Dragons.

“In a short series, anything can happen,” Ramirez said. “I did pretty good against the Dragons the whole year. But I don’t know how it’s going to be starting from tomorrow. I hope I can continue producing the same way and help my team win.”

Dicky Gonzalez is expected to get the start for the Giants in Game 1. Gonzalez began the year on the farm but posted huge numbers with the top team, finishing 15-2 with a 2.11 ERA.

“They got good hitters,” Gonzalez said. “Their 3-4-5 (Chunichi’s cleanup trio of Masahiko Morino, Tony Blanco and Kazuhiro Wada), is one of the best in the league. So we have to be careful.”

Gonzalez was 4-0 with a 1.46 ERA in five starts against Chunichi. Gonzalez also finished 8-0 at Tokyo Dome with a 1.91 ERA in 11 games at the notorious hitter’s park.

“I’m going to try to do the same things,” Gonzalez said. “I don’t want to change my style. Just wait for the game to start and see (what happens). I’m going start like I did before. If I see something wrong, then we’ll change it.”