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John E. Gibson

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JAPAN SERIES NOTEBOOK: Rare mistakes take their toll

by Jim Allen and John E. Gibson (Nov 5, 2009)

The Hokkaido Nippon Fighters, who have won three Pacific League titles in four years by being meticulously sharp about the little things, have made rare mistakes to fall behind 2-1 in the Japan Series.

They failed in two critical moments in Tuesday Game 3, one a misplayed fly and the other a missed sacrifice bunt.

In the fifth inning with two on and two out, Yomiuri Giants slugger Michihiro Ogasawara stroked a high fly to left-center field, but neither left fielder Terrmel Sledge nor centerfielder Yoshio Itoi took an aggressive route to the ball.

The result: A catchable fly short-hopped the wall and allowed both runners to dart around the bases for the go-ahead runs in a 7-4 Giants win at Tokyo Dome.

"I'm making a change in center," Nippon Ham skipper Masataka Nashida said before Game 4.

The manager turned to veteran right-handed-hitting Hichori Morimoto to open up in center against Giants southpaw starter Hisanori Takahashi.

Big brother's watching: Giants catcher Shinnosuke Abe is even more animated when Wirfin Obispo is on the mound.

Abe has taken Obispo--who became the first pitcher to begin his career on the developmental squad to win his first Series start--under his wing and lights up when the 25-year-old succeeds.

"That's because he's Obispo's big brother," Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said Tuesday.

Asked if he enjoyed catching Obispo in the Series against the Fighters, Abe said: "Is it fun? No. It's not fun. It's murder out there. Those guys are tough. If you win it's fun."

Homer dome: Game 3 saw six solo home runs at Tokyo Dome, but that's nothing new for this park.

The Giants' home saw one home run per 26.8 at-bats this season, a massive difference from Sapporo Dome, where there was one long ball per 42.7 at-bats.


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