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Chunichi's Wada unfazed by Series pressure

by Jim Allen (Nov 2, 2010)

If playing in the Japan Series brings unusually intense pressure, the Dragons' Kazuhiro Wada isn't feeling it.

"There's pressure throughout the season. It's not something that suddenly comes into play now," said Wada, who had three RBIs on Sunday when Chunichi tied the Japan Series at a game apiece with a 12-1 demolition of the Chiba Lotte Marines at Nagoya Dome.

The 38-year-old, who homered in Saturday's 5-2 defeat, went 3-for-4 to lift his career postseason average to .301 in 173 at-bats.

"My form hasn't been bad. But that doesn't always translate into production.

"Had we lost this game, we would have been under pressure. This [win] doesn't give us a lot of room for error, but it's a lot easier having won a game."

It's a good thing the game did end, otherwise Lotte lefty Bill Murphy would be playing catch-up for a long, long time.

Murphy, who won his first five starts in Japan and was being scouted by major league clubs with an eye toward next season, struggled in the second half and has continued to flounder in the postseason.

"The batters started making adjustments, and I didn't catch up [with my own]," he told The Daily Yomiuri.

Murphy's third postseason start lasted just 1-1/3 innings. The first-year lefty, who finished the season 12-6, fell to 0-2 in the postseason with a crazy 8.00 ERA.

While Murphy was putting pitches where the Dragons could hit them, Chunichi lefty Chen Wei-yin became the first pitcher from Taiwan to win a Series game in 17 years. Since Chen established himself in 2008, lefties have batted .246 off him, right-handers just .211.

Although the Marines let loose against lefties in general, they struggled against superior southpaws, as they did on Sunday. Lotte managed just four hits in six innings off Chen, who improved to 2-0 against the Marines this year.

The teams traveled Monday and will resume play tonight with Game 3 at Chiba Marine Stadium, where the Dragons will have to deal with swirling winds and the Marines' corps of supporters. These are conditions that Wada, who played in the Pacific League for the Seibu Lions until joining the Dragons as a free agent in 2008, is familiar with.

"There are difficulties playing in Chiba," he said. "However, the conditions are what they are, and you can't let them bother you.

"Then there are the fans. There's no mistaking it will be a very different atmosphere from Nagoya Dome. We just have to be prepared for that and overcome it."

Shunsuke Watanabe, used as a decoy Sunday to try to get the Dragons to prepare to face a righty instead of the lefty Murphy, will probably go tonight for the Marines.

The best option for the Dragons appears to be two-time Series hero Daisuke Yamai, who tossed eight perfect innings in the 2007 Japan Series against the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, only to be replaced in the ninth by manager Hiromitsu Ochiai to preserve a 1-0 lead.

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Japan Series Notebook

--The last Taiwanese pitcher to win a Series game was the Seibu Lions' Kuo Tai-yuan in 1993; the last to pitch in the Series was the Lions' Hsu Ming-chie, in 2004.

--The Dragons' 12 runs were the most at Nagoya Dome since Chunichi whacked Yakult 12-1 on Aug. 14, 2009. The 12 runs set a Dragons' record for runs in a Series game, surpassing the 11 they scored here in Game 2 in 2004--a game started by current Boston Red Sox right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka.

--Lotte's Game 2 defeat was its first in a Series since Oct. 19, 1974, when the Dragons beat the Orions 5-4 at Tokyo's Korakuen Stadium. It was also the franchise's largest losing margin in a Series game--it had never lost by more than two runs. The franchise's eight previous defeats were by a combined total of nine runs.


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