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Takeda Baffles Hawks Again

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Takeda Baffles Hawks Again

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Over the last three years, Masaru Takeda has been quite the pest for the SoftBank Hawks to face. A quintessential junkballer, Takeda rarely throws above 135km/h with an array of breaking pitches, most notably his slurve, shuuto and changeup.

He constantly uses all of these pitches to maximum effect against the Hawks, and threw six innings of one-hit ball the last time he faced SoftBank. Takeda (1-1, 2.78) put together another good start today against the Hawks (5IP, 6H, ER, 4K), although he gave up his fair share of hits.

SoftBank had plenty of missed opportunities, as they left seven runners on base, many times with two runners on. It also didn't help that they could not generate any chances after the 6th inning, as the Nippon Ham bullpen of Naoki Miyanishi, Yoshinori Tateyama, and Brian Wolfe (S, 1) held the Hawks to only one hit in the last 2 innings.

On the other side, Kenji Ohtonari (L, 1-2, 3.00) was called upon to put together a good start of his own, but he was touched up for four runs on seven hits, while walking two and striking out three in five innings. A finesse pitcher himself, the Hawks' #2 lefty is known for getting a little too fine, and he did just that today.

Kensuke Tanaka once again proved why he is one of the best infielders in the Pacific League as he improved his average against SoftBank this season to .385 with a home run (a 2-run shot in the 5th), six RBI's and four stolen bases. He drove in three of Nippon Ham's four runs today.

Despite the bullpen's best efforts to keep the game close, the SoftBank offense could not get anything going against the Nippon Ham pitching. Akio Mizuta threw 2 scoreless innings, and Tadashi Settsu and Keisuke Kattoh both threw scoreless innings themselves.

After a day off tomorrow, the Hawks (9-9) make their first trip to Kyocera Dome this year as they take on the Orix Buffaloes (9-8).
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