Knowing how big an achievement it is for the club to still be playing this time of year, ace hurler Kenta Maeda had a proverbial huge monkey on his back while on the mound at Koshien Stadium last Saturday, when the Hiroshima Carp faced the Hanshin Tigers.

Fair enough.

The Carp were playing their first postseason game in 22 years, since the red jersey club advanced to the 1991 Japan Series. And they never finished above third place in the last 15 years before this season.