It was billed as the big one, the Manchester United-Chelsea style showdown that would decide the Japanese Central League Championship 2008. And unlike Man U-Chelsea, I care as much about one team as I do about my English football team.

Yet it wasn’t to be.

Hanshin Tigers succumbed to a 3-1 loss against the Yomiuri Giants in Tokyo on wednesday night, and my heart was filled with sadness. Numerous chances were created and missed- a manrui full base opening in the 6th, and several occasions at which a home run by Kanemoto, Toritani or Sekimoto would have squared the game and sent it into overtime. Yet like the last couple of months, the homerun was not forthcoming, and Kroon and co. closed out the match the send the Yomiuri into an ascendant lead. They now have a “Magic Number” of 2, meaning if they win 2 games…that’s it.

In May we had a lead of TWELVE games, and now they have a lead of one.