The defending Pacific League champion Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters won the first game of their best of three first round playoff series against the Orix Buffaloes with a 4-1 win at the Kyocera Dome in Osaka.
Fighters ace Yu Darvish struck out 14 in a 139-pitch complete game. Game 2 will also be in Osaka. The winner will face the Seibu Lions in a best of five series.
The Central League playoffs won't start until next week. Yomiuri won its second straight regular season title after finally reeling in the Hanshin Tigers (who once led by as many as 13 games this summer). The Tigers will face the defending Japan Series champion Chunichi Dragons in the first round.