Orix Buffaloes reduced the magic number to win the Pacific League to 2. Second-year young gun Kohei Azuma (24) has been on a seven-game winning streak since his debut.

Orix won 3-2 in the game against Chibar Lotte Marines held at Kyocera Dome in Osaka, Japan on the 19th. Orix, with a record of 78 wins, 4 draws, and 47 losses, came close to winning the league by beating Chiba Lotte (63 wins, 5 draws, 59 losses), second place in the league, in a head-to-head match. If they win the match on the 20th, they can confirm the league championship at their home stadium. 

Starting pitcher Kohei Azuma earned his 6th win of the season with a good pitching in 7 innings, allowing 5 hits, 1 walk, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts, and 1 run. Azuma, who debuted in the first team last season, is showing good performance this season with 6 wins in 9 games 안전놀이터(47⅓ innings) and an ERA of 1.71. He is on a seven-game winning streak without a loss since his first-team debut, including one win last season. 

Japanese media Daily Sports said, “Azuma has been on a 7-game winning streak without a loss since joining the pros. It is a new record for the most consecutive wins in a debut in the club’s history, surpassing Minoru Nishida’s 6 consecutive wins in his debut during the Hankyu era in 1957-1958. “In terms of Japanese professional baseball as a whole, it is the third record in history in 81 years since Hideo Fujimoto (then Yomiuri) in 1942,” he said, highlighting Azuma’s record. 

In the bullpen, Shota Abe (1 inning, no runs) and Yoshihisa Hirano (1 inning, 1 run) recorded a hold and a save, respectively, to preserve the team’s victory. Hirano earned his 26th save of the season. In the batting lineup, Ryoichi Adachi, Keita Nakagawa, and Yutaro Sugimoto played multi-hit games. 

If Orix, who has only a magic number of 2 left, wins the match against Chiba Lotte on the 20th and confirms the league championship, it will be the first time they have won in front of their home stadium fans since the appointment of coach Satoshi Nakajima. Daily Sports emphasized the importance of the game on this day, saying, “All seats for the game on the 20th have already been sold out.” 

Meanwhile, in the Central League, Hanshin, which, like Orix, is based in the Kansai region including Osaka, has already confirmed its league championship by winning its home game against Yomiuri on the 14th. On this day, the festival atmosphere in Osaka was already growing, with Hanshin fans jumping into the river in joy of winning at the Dotonbori River located in downtown Osaka. 

If Orix, who is close to winning the league, confirms the championship, it will be the first time in Japanese professional baseball history that Orix and Hanshin will win the league championship in the same year. Even including the era of Hankyu, Orix’s predecessor, Hanshin and Orix have never won the league championship at the same time. Hankyu won the championship in 1984 and Hanshin won the championship in 1985, but they were unable to win the championship as they were one year apart. The Japan Series matchup between the two teams has never happened. Orix won the Japan Series in 1975, 1976, 1977, 1996, and 2022, and Hanshin’s only Japan Series championship was in 1985. 

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