Swallows beat Buffaloes to win 1st Japan Series title since ’01

Category: Sports


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. top of the (ordinal number) / tɒp əv ðə / (n.) – the first half of a certain inning of a baseball game in which the visiting team hits the ball while the home team throws and catches the ball

    We should score a point at the top of the 9th. If we don’t, the other team will win.

  2. run of (something) / rʌn əv / (n.) – a continuous series of similar things or events

    The top basketball team has a long run of wins.

  3. dominance / ˈdɒm ə nəns / (n.) – the quality or state of being more powerful, successful, or stronger than another thing of the same type

    Because of its unique and superior technology, the company has established its dominance over other smartphone makers.

  4. Herculean / ˌhɜr kyəˈli ən / (adj.) – very strong or powerful; requiring great strength or effort

    My brother showed Herculean strength and became the champion of the triathlon.

  5. tie / taɪ / (n.) – a situation in which two teams or groups in a game or contest have the same number of points, votes, etc.

    The teams’ scores were at 78 and 81, but after a successful three-point shot from the losing team, it became a tie.


Read the text below.

Tokyo Yakult Swallows overcame the best pitcher in Japan to become the best team in Japan.

Pinch hitter Shingo Kawabata hit a bloop single to left to bring in the go-ahead run in the top of the 12th, and reliever Scott McGough closed out an entertaining Japan Series as the Swallows won the title with a 2-1 victory over the Orix Buffaloes at Hotto Motto Field Kobe on Nov. 27.

Yakult won the series 4-2.

“It was a really difficult season,” Swallows manager Shingo Takatsu said. “It was even more difficult because we sank to last place last year and the year before that. But I think the joy is even greater.”

The Swallows won their first Japan Series title since 2001 and claimed the first by a Central League team since 2012 to end a run of dominance by Pacific League clubs.

Yakult had to overcome a Herculean performance by Orix ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto to get it done. Yamamoto pitched nine innings of one-run ball and struck out 11 on 141 pitches before turning over a tie game to the bullpen in the 10th.

This year’s Japan Series was tightly contested from start to finish, with all six games decided by two runs or fewer and five of the six decided by one run. Game 6 lasted exactly five hours and it took 12 innings to finally find a winner. (The Japan Times)

This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • The Tokyo Yakult Swallows overcame the best pitcher in Japan, Orix ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto, to become the best team in the country. What do you think the Yakult team felt when they had to go against Yamamoto (ex. nervous, worried)? Have you ever had to face a difficult challenge like the Yakult team? Discuss.
  • Swallows manager Shingo Takatsu said they had a difficult season because they sank to last place last year and the year before that. He said that the joy is greater when they won the championship since they were in last place. Have you ever experienced being in last place and then becoming first place? Do you think that joy is greater when you win after being in last place? Why or why not? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • According to the article, the Swallows won their first Japan Series title since 2001. What do you think made it possible for the Yakult team to win the championship (ex. they practiced a lot, studied the strengths and weaknesses of the other team)? Do you think this win will inspire them to work harder next season? Discuss.
  • Orix ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto had a Herculean performance. He pitched nine innings of one-run ball and struck out 11 on 141 pitches. What do you think he felt after losing Game 6 by one point (ex. sad, angry)? If you were Yamamoto, how would you manage the loss? Why? Discuss.