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Bullpen Rescues Ohba's Wildness

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Bullpen Rescues Ohba's Wildness
Ever wild, Shota Ohba has got to get his pitching under control. No more was this apparent than today against the Orix Buffaloes. He was ejected after hitting Keiji Ohbiki in the head with a pitch. Lucky for him and the Hawks, Hideaki Takahashi came on and pitched 5 innings of no-hit ball to rescue an aborted start and salvage the series against the Buffaloes.

In all, Hawks pitchers walked a frightening six Orix batters, and they hit two. The only run that Orix would get was in the first, and they didn't even need a hit to do it. Ohba started the game by walking Sakaguchi, then hitting Ohbiki in the head. Those would be the only two batters Ohba would face as he was ejected.

Takahashi was pressed into duty and while he was wild, he delivered. He got off to a good enough start, striking out the dangerous Jose Fernandez. Cabrera then drew a walk to load the bases. Kitagawa hit a sacrifice fly to right to score Sakaguchi to post Orix to a quick 1-0 lead.

That would be all Orix would get for the day in terms of offense. Orix had a chance in the second inning when Takahashi walked two batters, but he then got a strike-'em-out throw-'em-out double play on a hit-and-run to end the threat. A walk in the 5th ended a streak of 8 in a row retired by the sinkerballer, but he did get out of the inning by getting Sakaguchi to ground into a 4-6-3 double play.

On the other end, Yoshihisa Hirano, who has struggled through a tough season after finally getting healthy, pitched good enough to win today. He put forth seven quality innings, but the two runs that SoftBank got off him in the 3rd after retiring the first six batters he faced was enough to tag him with the loss. The first three batters reached, with Kawasaki capping the rally by doubling home Kenji Akashi and Yuichi Honda to vault SoftBank into the lead at 2-1.

Hirano retired 9 in a row at one point before SoftBank threatened again in the 7th. Kokubo and Tamura singled to begin the 7th, but Hirano bore down and worked around the two hits and eventually seeing them reach 2nd and 3rd thanks to a sac bunt by Tanoue, a questionable move in some people's minds. Kosai struck out to end the threat. The final line for the Orix starter was 7 innings, giving up 2 runs on 4 hits, walking 1 and striking out 4.

SoftBank would add a run in the 8th off Shimizu, thanks to a base knock by pinch-hitter Morimoto. Honda bunted the former to 2nd, then Kawasaki notched his second double of the game, which also scored Morimoto to give SoftBank a 3-1 advantage.

From the 5th inning on, the Hawks bullpen was on the spot to keep the Buffaloes from taking the lead and getting a chance to sweep the series. Akio Mizuta, pitching for the 2nd straight day, got through 2/3 of an inning, then was relieved by Morifuku, who worked through the last third of the 6th. Next up was the dynamic duo of Settsu and Falkenborg. Each faced 5 batters, and each got through their respective innings while keeping Orix off the board. Mahara recorded save #20 on the season by striking out two of the four batters he faced.

Yoshihisa Hirano took the loss, dropping his record to 2-7 on the season. Hideaki Takahashi got the win in relief, improving his record to 1-1. The Hawks did not gain any ground on the Fighters after they put together a comeback against the Marines to procure the sweep.

Next up comes a crucial series against those same Fighters for a 3-game series. The Hawks need to gain at least one game on the Fighters in this series. The first game will be exceedingly difficult as Justin Germano (4-1, 3.27) takes on Yu Darvish (12-3, 1.31).

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Michael Westbay
(aka westbaystars)

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