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Wada answers back, Hawks rout Marines

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Wada answers back, Hawks rout Marines
With left (throwing) elbow problems each of the last two seasons, one has to wonder if Tsuyoshi Wada was truly healthy going into this season, especially considering that he had two mediocre to bad starts to start the season.

Wada did his best to try and dispel at least some of the fears today, as he struck out a career-high* 15 batters, going the distance in a 9-1 Hawks win to also secure a series victory over the first-place Marines.

Seemingly answering back to Yuta Ohmine's complete-game, 10-strikeout shutout yesterday, Wada was in control after the first inning, in which he gave up the only run that Lotte would get all day. Wada's former teammate Tadahito Iguchi doubled home Tsuyoshi Nishioka for a quick 1-0 lead for the Marines.

However, the Hawks saw another one of their favorite whipping boys on the other end, as former Buffalo Hidetaka Kawagoe took the mound, sporting an ERA of over 6.00 against the Hawks in the last four seasons.

History continued to repeat itself for Kawagoe, as he was tattooed by the Hawks lineup for six runs (five earned) over 3 and 1/3 innings. Hasegawa tied the game in the 2nd with a 2-out bloop single that scored Tamura who was off with contact.

It started to get ugly in the 3rd for Kawagoe as the Hawks hung a three-spot on him that inning. With one out and Kawasaki on second with a double, Yuichi Honda did something he doesn't normally do: he flashed the heavy lumber, cranking a home run to right field and giving the Hawks a 3-1 lead.

But the boys from Fukuoka weren't done in the 3rd. Jose Ortiz doubled to center and Kokubo reached on an error to set up Matsunaka, who recorded an RBI groundout to give the Hawks a 4-1 lead.

That would prove to be enough, but the Hawks once again pounced on Kawagoe in the 4th, putting up another crooked number on the scoreboard. All of the Hawks' starting nine came to the plate in the 4th inning, producing five more runs that would put the game away for good at 9-1.

Keying the rally in the inning were back-to-back home runs off former Yomiuri Giant and Red Sox reliever Bryan Corey. Jose Ortiz cranked his 4th homer of the season to center, and Kokubo followed it up with a solo shot of his own to center.

From there, that would be more than enough for Wada, who struck out six in a row at one point, and struck out the side three times in the game. He also retired 15 batters in a row at one point, and struck out both Kim Tae-Gyun and Nishioka three times in the game.

The Hawks go right back to work tomorrow at Yahoo! Dome against the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters for the first time since opening weekend, with Toshiya Sugiuchi (2-1, 4.26) going for the Hawks. Hirotoshi Masui will counter for the Fighters.

*I don't know if this is a career high for Wada, but in the last four years, his game high for strikeouts was 14 (2009 vs. Orix). If he has had a higher strikeout total, let me know.

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Michael Westbay
(aka westbaystars)

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