Read the full story on SportsLook - Led by Skipper Akinobu Okada, the Hanshin Tigers Clinch Their First CL Pennant Since 2005
The Hanshin Tigers clinched their first Central League pennant in 18 years on Thursday, September 14 after completing a three-game sweep of the archrival Yomiuri Giants in front of their die-hard fans at Koshien Stadium.
With the 4-3 win over Yomiuri, Hanshin also extended its current winning streak to 11 games. The Tigers wrapped up the title with 15 games left in the regular season.
Just call it "Okada Magic."
While many factors contributed to the team's success, the decision to bring back experienced manager Akinobu Okada after a 14-year hiatus proved to be a stroke of genius.
"I repeatedly told my players that September would be a real battle, but we've won way more than expected," said Okada, according to Kyodo News. "My players are getting better. It's a result of team effort ― players, the front office and other staff."
Okada Guided the Tigers to Their Previous Pennant
The last time the Tigers clinched the CL championship was 2005 when they were managed by Okada, a former Hanshin player who was used mostly as a second baseman for the Tigers from 1980 to 1993.
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Author: Jim Armstrong
The author is a longtime journalist who has covered sports in Japan for over 25 years. You can find his articles on SportsLook.