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Darvish Brilliant Again, Hawks Lose Again

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Darvish Brilliant Again, Hawks Lose Again
Going into a crucial series against the Nippon Ham Fighters, it was imperative that the Hawks at least take two of three from their arch-rivals. Unfortunately, standing in the way of a first-game win was Yu Darvish.

In what could be termed as a mismatch of epic proportions on the mound, SoftBank countered with Justin Germano, who has been very good, but he's no ace. Germano had his characteristic shaky first inning, giving up a run on two hits and a walk, the first run of the game coming on a timely base hit from Inaba after Morimoto doubled. Hichori's speed took care of the rest and Nippon Ham was up quickly, 1-0.

SoftBank had their best chance of the game in the first themselves, as Matsunaka drew a walk from Darvish, then Kokubo and Hasegawa singled to load the bases with two out. Darvish then stopped messing around and struck out Tanoue swinging to end the threat.

From there, it was vintage Darvish domination. Starting with Tanoue, he retired 15 Hawks batters in a row, and starting with Tanoue, he struck out five batters in a row. SoftBank didn't even have a baserunner until the 8th, and the only Hawks run of the day came on a solo shot from Matsunaka (17).

SoftBank threatened again in the 8th, when Akashi led off with a double. After Kidokoro flew out to center, Honda singled to move Akashi to 3rd. Kawasaki then fouled out, but Matsunaka drew his second walk of the game to load the bases again. But again, Darvish dug deep and struck out Kokubo to end another threat. Kikuchi mopped up in the 9th to seal the deal.

Darvish's final line was 8 innings, giving up just the Matsunaka home run. SoftBank was able to scatter five hits against him and draw two walks, but Darvish did strike out nine batters. He got the win (13-3) and lowered his ERA to 1.30.

Germano, on the other hand, had a bit of trouble with the Nippon Ham batters. Probably knowing there was zero room for error against Darvish, he gave up another run in the 3rd after walking Morimoto, watching him steal 2nd, then was driven in by Shinji Takahashi for a 2-0 Fighters lead.

The 6th inning was the one that sunk all hope for the Hawks on this day. Eiichi Koyano singled his way on to lead off the inning, was bunted to 2nd by Itoi, then moved to third on a single by Hawks-killer Makoto Kaneko. Kensuke Tanaka singled home Koyano to extend Nippon Ham's lead to 3-0. Morimoto then reached for a third time thanks to an error from Yuichi Honda that allowed Kaneko and Tanaka to score. Germano was not held responsible for those two runs, and he made it out of the 6th, but the damage was done He would get tagged with the loss, dropping his record to 4-2.

Having been ejected from his start yesterday, Shota Ohba was called on to relieve Germano and get his work in. Ohba was nothing short of electric in 2 innings, striking out four of the 8 batters he faced, walking 1 and giving up one hit. Maybe Ohba's place is in the bullpen, but that's an argument for another day.

Now four games in back of Nippon Ham for first in the PL, SoftBank is in a must-win situation tomorrow. They have one of their best stoppers on the mound tomorrow in DJ Houlton (7-4, 2.25). The home Fighters counter with Shugo Fujii (5-4, 4.07).
Comments
Re: Darvish Brilliant Again, Hawks Lose Again
[ Author: Deanna | Posted: Aug 2, 2009 1:08 AM | NIP Fan ]

I was at that game, as well as today's game (took a short trip to Sapporo to escape the Tokyo heat and be a Fighters freak). All I have to say is: does Nobuhiko ever NOT get a home run when playing against the Fighters? I've been to 5 Fighters-Hawks games this year, and I've seen him hit 5 home runs (though two were in the same game).

Oh, it gets worse. Today was his 18th home run of the year -- and it was his EIGHTH against the Fighters. The other 10 are spread out among 5 teams (Lotte and Rakuten 3, Seibu 2, Orix and Hanshin 1). That's pretty unreal -- I wonder if any other players have such a tendency to hit a particular team?

Of course, I also believe that Yoshinori Tateyama ALWAYS gives up lead-losing 2-run homers when I see him pitching, which is obviously not strictly true, but it's happened so often that it feels like it...
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