Note: The Battle of Champions is a theoretical series between the 2005 World Series Champion Chicago White Sox and the 2005 Nippon Series Champion Chiba Lotte Marines. We are using Diamond Mind Baseball to simulate the best-of-seven series. This is Game 1. For more information on the Battle of Champions, read the series preview.

Before we get started, we need to make a correction. Yesterday the White Sox’ 25-man roster was inaccurate. Chicago’s actual World Series roster featured Orlando Hernandez and not Ross Gload. The Diamond Mind roster was fixed prior to Game 1, so nothing was affected by the error. The Marines’ 15-10 hitter-pitcher split–partly established for purposes of “balance,” as we said yesterday–will not change, as this configuration still suits Bobby Valentine‘s managerial tactics well. We apologize for the error.

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Game 1 | Marines 10, White Sox 1 | Box | Marines lead series, 1-0

CHICAGO (BP) – Apparently, Joe Crede‘s postseason antics have followed him to the Battle of Champions.

Unfortunately for Chicago, the White Sox needed nine Joe Credes last night to stand any chance against the free-swinging Chiba Lotte Marines. The Marines rallied behind starter Shunsuke Watanabe to rout Jose Contreras and the White Sox 10-1 in Game 1.

The game was scoreless until the top of the fourth inning, when Contreras (0-1) issued a leadoff walk to Saburo Ohmura to open the floodgates. Toshiaki Imae, MVP of the Nippon Series, singled in the first run. Shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka‘s single quickly expanded the lead to three.

The White Sox could have escaped further damage, but a fourth run scored when A.J. Pierzynski dropped a bulls-eye throw from center fielder Aaron Rowand that should have killed the rally. In the fourth inning alone, Contreras coughed up five singles and two walks on 41 pitches before manager Ozzie Guillen pulled the plug. Lefty Damaso Marte allowed another single that scored the Marines’ sixth and final run of the inning.

The Marines tacked on another run in the fifth when catcher Tasuku Hashimoto ripped a double past first baseman Paul Konerko. Imae scored on that play. In the sixth inning, Akira Ohtsuka, pinch-hitting for Ohmura, belted a two-run home run that just evaded the glove of leaping left fielder Scott Podsednik. A Matt Franco sac fly chased home Kazuya Fukuura in the eighth inning for the Marines’ tenth run.

Chiba hitters totaled 17 hits on the night. Shortstop and leadoff hitter Tsuyoshi Nishioka paced the Marines, reaching base four times and adding two RBI and a stolen base. Benny Agbayani, one of two former New York Mets in Bobby Valentine‘s lineup, was 3-for-5 with a double. The other, Matt Franco, went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and was the only Marine starter held hitless.

Tadahito Iguchi, who played eight years for the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks, is the lone Japanese player on Chicago’s roster. Like Franco, he also went hitless and struck out twice.

Watanabe (1-0)–who allowed just one run in 23 innings during the 2005 Japanese playoffs–lasted eight innings for the Marines and threw 70 of 107 pitches for strikes. He allowed one run and eight hits, walked no one and struck out four before Yasuhiko Yabuta mopped up with a perfect ninth.

The game began on a wild note. Contreras walked the game’s first batter, Nishioka, and threw two wild pitches with Ohmura at the plate. In the bottom of the first, Watanabe mishandled Podsednik’s comebacker, and the subsequent throwing error gave Podsednik ample time to reach second base.

It was a very long night for Chicago pitchers, and Contreras wasn’t the only ineffective one. Through five innings, Contreras and Marte had combined for a stunning 121 pitches. Marte lasted 1 2/3 innings and Luis Vizcaino 2 2/3, but each gave up five hits. Southpaw Neal Cotts pitched a perfect ninth inning, the only time Chicago retired the Marines in order.

With few other reasons to cheer, the crowd was energized by Rowand’s outfield acrobatics. With the game still tied in the third inning, Rowand robbed Hashimoto of extra bases with a leaping, over-the-shoulder catch in full sprint near the wall. Rowand outshined himself in the ninth inning, when he dove on the warning track to steal a double from Seung-Yeop Lee.

Marine center fielders held their own with the glove, too. Immediately following the fourth-inning rally, Ohmura threw himself against the wall to pull down a blast by Konerko. Ohtsuka later tracked down a towering Carl Everett fly ball that nearly cleared the fence for a three-run homer.

Battle of Champions, Game 2
Marines lead series, 1-0

Chiba Lotte Marines (Hiroyuki Kobayashi, translated 9-8, 4.18 ERA)
Chicago White Sox (Mark Buehrle, 15-7, 3.61)

Battle of Champions Preview
Game 1 | Marines 10, White Sox 1 | Box | Marines lead series, 1-0
Game 2 | Chiba Lotte @ Chicago | Fri., 1/6
Game 3 | Chicago @ Chiba Lotte | Mon., 1/9
Game 4 | Chicago @ Chiba Lotte | Tues., 1/10
Game 5 | Chicago @ Chiba Lotte | Wed., 1/11 (if necessary)
Game 6 | Chiba Lotte @ Chicago | Thurs., 1/12 (if necessary)
Game 7 | Chiba Lotte @ Chicago | Fri., 1/13 (if necessary)
Marines 2005 stats translated

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As their Web site says, Diamond Mind Baseball is devoted to “realistic strategy-oriented baseball games for use on home computers and the Internet.” Special thanks to Tom Tippett and everyone at DMB for their cooperation.

Dave Haller is a staff writer for Baseball Prospectus. You can reach him by clicking here or click here to see Dave’s other articles.

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