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Hawks Beat Themselves in Snapping Win Streak

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Hawks Beat Themselves in Snapping Win Streak
After clinching the Interleague title for the second straight year, the Hawks didn't need to have much of a sense of urgency to finish up the Interleague competition. However, the games still count, and this is where the Hawks need to man up and win at least two of the last three games. Think of it as a statement of sorts, that the Hawks won't roll over and die like they did last year.

Despite not having three of their best starters available, the Hawks have put some great pitching on the mound in Saitoh, Wada, and Ohtonari's place. The perpetually hurt Yoshiaki Fujioka has started to make some strides in the rotation, putting together two solid starts. This time however, the Hawks defense let Fujioka down.

Opposing Fujioka was Takashi Ogasawara, and he was brilliant over his 7 and 2/3 innings. SoftBank did not score on him until the 8th inning, when SoftBank was able to manufacture a run thanks to a single, a sac bunt, and then a single from Jose Ortiz.

By then however, it was far too late. The only runs that Chunichi needed came in the first inning. After Ibata led off with a single and Araki grounded out, Chunichi became the beneficiaries of the first error of the evening from SoftBank. Hiroki Kokubo muffed a grounder that came his way and allowed the inning to (potentially) continue. It obviously affected Fujioka, as he allowed singles to Blanco and Kazuhiro Wada which scored two runs, neither of them earned.

With Chunichi leading 2-0 already, Jose Ortiz only compounded the problem with his suspect defense. Normally an infielder, Ortiz was playing left for the absent Matsunaka, who normally plays left in Central League parks. Araki lifted a fly ball to left and Ortiz muffed it. With two down, Ibata, who had singled before Araki, was off on contact and came around to score the Dragons' third run.

Aside from the three errors, Fujioka (2-1) was solid over seven innings. He allowed the three runs, none of them earned, he surrendered seven hits and struck out three.

On the other end, Ogasawara (2-1) was relieved by Asao, who worked only a third of an inning to get through the 8th, and then he was relieved by Iwase, who notched his 16th save after working around a single.

SoftBank closes out their interleague schedule against the Yokohama BayStars this weekend after two days off. The loss, coupled with a Nippon Ham win, has dropped the Hawks one game behind the Fighters for first place in the Pacific League.

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Michael Westbay
(aka westbaystars)

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