Buffaloes find relief, pick up 1st Series win

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Orix Buffaloes’ Yuki Udagawa fires a pitch in the sixth inning of Game 4 of the Japan Series against Tokyo Yakult Swallows on Wednesday in Osaka.

The Orix Buffaloes used their bullpen to pick up their first victory in the Japan Series, winning 1-0 in Game 4 on Wednesday night at Kyocera Dome Osaka.

Orix won a tight game in the best-of-seven matchup against the Tokyo Yakult Swallows as Yuki Udagawa and two other relievers made a third-inning RBI hit from Yutaro Sugimoto stand up.

The Buffaloes, down 1-2-1 in the series, don’t have a finesse pitcher in their relief corps. They attack with fastballs in the mid 150-kph range and fire hard offspeed pitches that also drop.

Just like closers at the back the bullpen, arm after arm comes out of the pen to dominate hitters.

Starter Taisuke Yamaoka gave up a triple to Yakult’s Yasutaka Shiomi with one out in the fifth inning. On came Udagawa, a second-year pitcher who was signed as a developmental player and given a regular contract during the season.

“I thought it was best to go with a pitcher who could get a strikeout,” Orix skipper Satoshi Nakajima said as his reason for making the switch to Udagawa in that situation.

The right-hander, who said he wasn’t nervous in that moment, struck out Kotaro Yamasaki and Tetsuto Yamada to end the inning.

Soichichiro Yamazaki was the third Orix hurler, and he used his fastball — which was close to 160 kph — to fire two perfect innings.

Yamazaki went right after Yakult’s Munetaka Murakami and the heart of the order for a 1-2-3 frame.

“They were on to my offspeed pitches, so I felt all I could do was go with the fastball,” Yamazaki said.

Right-hander Jacob Waguespack took over in the ninth inning, but the Swallows’ Kazuya Maruyama greeted him with a leadoff double. But that’s when Waguespack turned things up. The first-year import used fastballs to strike out the next two Swallows and retired Soma Uchiyama, who had a three-run homer in Game 2, to foul out to end the game.