I'm still writing up the game summaries for the 27th but did want to quickly write an update on what happened today.
Pretty exciting day if you were a Swallows fan or an Eagles fan (of which, I'm both).
Who would have thought that the Eagles would take two from the Lions against their best pitchers?
That neither of these wins would be with Masahiro Tanaka on the mound?
If you had told me that the Eagles would score 21 runs in two games that were started by Kishi and Wakui, I likely would have laughed and waved it off as an impossibility. Except it really happened.
Kishi, 4.1 IP, 5 H (3 HR), 5 K, 2 BB, 5 R, 4 ER
Wakui, 4 IP, 5 H, 2 K, 5 BB, 4 R, 4 ER
The interesting thing will be to see how either of these teams do from here on out.
Do the Lions roll over and play dead? Or does drubbing wake them up and get them going?
Do the Eagles get too confident and start reeling off losses? Or do they keep their cool and keep pushing forward?
The Lions start a 3-game series against the Marines while the Eagles play 4 games against the Hawks.
And while it may seem as though the Lions have an easier schedule playing against a sub-500 team, there are two things to remember:
The Marines have been playing much better as of late (14-9-1 in September); and...
The Lions are 9-12 against Marines this season.
The Eagles have had fairly decent success against the Hawks this year. Overall, they're 11-9; at Kleenex Stadium, they're 5-3. But since they took 2 of 3 from the Lions, even if the Hawks were to somehow sweep the series against the Eagles and the Lions pulled off a sweep of the Marines, the Eagles would still be up a half game over the Lions.
More than likely, the Eagles should be able to take at least 2 of 4 from the Hawks.
If the Eagles can take 3 of 4 from the Hawks, they'll be in second place. And depending on what the Fighters do...
The Fighters start a 3-game series against the Orix Buffaloes.
And in one particular scenario...
the Fighters go 4-6 over their next 10 games and the Eagles pull off a 9-2 over their next 11 games, they could actually overtake the Fighters and win the PL title by half a game. That's probably a pipe dream, but hey, with the way the Eagles are playing right now, I really wouldn't put it past them at this point.
Jumping back to the Swallows, 6 of their last 11 games are against the Tigers. They also have 2 against the Giants, 2 more against the Bay Stars, and 1 against the Carp.
And while I want to say that Carp have pretty much played themselves out of third with their recent 5 game losing streak, they are still only 4 games out. Still, I think it's going to come down to the Swallows and Tigers in the Central League.
In the end, I think Craig Brazell and Tomoaki Kanemoto are going to hold the key for the Tigers. If Brazell is healthy and Kanemoto begins to hit, the Swallows could be in trouble.
For the Swallows, it's really all about their pitching: their starters have done an exceptional job over the last 5 games, but will they, and the bullpen, be able to keep it up? And will Aoki be able to keep hitting?
Incidentally, if Aoki goes at least 14-for-33 over these last 11 games, he'll actually finish the year with a .301 batting average. A fairly big deal considering he was batting .249 at the break.
Agree? Disagree? Feel free to leave your comments below this post.