NAGOYA – Masahiro Nakatani’s 11th-inning RBI single lifted the Hanshin Tigers to a 3-2, come-from-behind win over the Chunichi Dragons on Saturday as NPB completed its regular season.
With both teams playing their final games under managers who will not be back for 2019, the Tigers came from behind in the ninth inning to tie it thanks to a walk, a wild pitch and a throwing error.
It was the final game for Tigers skipper Tomoaki Kanemoto, whose team finished last in the Central League for the first time since 2001. Shigekazu Mori, who steered the Dragons to a pair of fifth-place finishes in his two seasons as manager, is moving up to the front office to work in player personnel.
Retiring Chunichi veteran Masahiro Araki started and went 2-for-5 in the leadoff spot, raising the speedy glove man’s career hit total to 2,045. His first-inning single set up the Dragons’ opening score, but he failed to raise his career stolen base tally to 379 after being thrown at second in the eighth inning. It was Araki’s second attempt of the season — his first without a steal since 1998.
Another departing Dragon, career saves leader Hitoki Iwase, faced one batter. The lefty struck out former teammate Kosuke Fukudome to finish his career with a record 1,002 games pitched.
Despite it being a meaningless game in terms of the final standings, and taking place the same day as both leagues’ postseason playoffs began, a crowd of 36,130 was announced at Nagoya Dome.
Eagles 4, Marines 1
At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, right-hander Takahiro Norimoto (10-11) threw three innings of perfect relief to earn the win after entering in the fourth with a 2-0 lead in last-place Tohoku Rakuten’s victory over Chiba Lotte.