The Orix Buffaloes booked a spot in their third straight Japan Series with a 3-2 win Saturday over the Chiba Lotte Marines, clinching their Pacific League Climax Series Final Stage in four games.
The win at Kyocera Dome Osaka clinched a 4-1 stage win, including the automatic one-win advantage the Buffaloes received as PL champions.
The defending champion Buffaloes will host the Central League champion Hanshin Tigers in Game 1 in Osaka on Oct. 28 in the first Japan Series between teams from the Kansai region since 1964.
The Buffaloes got six scoreless innings from lefty Hiroya Miyagi, while Tomoya Mori, Orix’s big free agent acquisition over the winter, hit a two-run first-inning home run.
Mori doubled and scored a big insurance run in the sixth, allowing the Buffaloes bullpen the leeway to surrender a pair of solo home runs, including a leadoff shot in the ninth from PL home run leader Gregory Polanco.
“We haven’t been able to hit many in these games, so hitting one in the first inning gave us extra energy,” Buffaloes manager Satoshi Nakajima said.
“Lotte’s pitching staff was extremely stingy when it came to giving up runs, but our pitchers did a great job for us. We did give up some home runs, but we were able to limit the damage they did.”
Polanco’s blast made it a one-run game, but 39-year-old former MLB reliever Yoshihisa Hirano got the three outs he needed to send Orix back to the Japan Series.
“I think everyone is going to see a passionate Kansai series, one that will excite the nation,” Nakajima said.