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Hara's quick hook costly for Giants

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Hara's quick hook costly for Giants

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Twice is nice. The Hawks were beneficiaries earlier in the interleague schedule of a manager being quick to take out their starting pitcher. It happened with the Tigers when Mayumi-kantoku took out Keiji Uezono early, and it happened again today as Hara-kantoku gave the quick hook to Kentaro Nishimura.

The Giants' starter would only work two and a third innings with two runs surrendered before giving way to Chih-Lung Huang, who was even worse than Nishimura (L, 4-4). Huang gave up four runs of his own in just one and one-third innings, contributing to a 7-5 SoftBank win.

Despite the ugly pitching performance from Yomiuri, the Hawks also had some sub-par pitching of their own. Toshiya Suguchi has been nowhere near the pitcher he was last season, and while he did get the win today, he only went five innings, giving up three runs on nine hits with six strikeouts. Yao-Hsun Yan was called on for relief, but he was victimized by an error for two unearned runs.

Another trend has been the Hawks' penchant for big innings, and the third inning was no different today. With runners on first and third with one down, Nishimura was lifted for Huang, who reached on a fielder's choice. A resurgent Nobuhirko Matsunaka then took a pitch and sent it into the stands for a grand slam (4) and a 4-0 lead for the home team.

Yomiuri answered in their ensuing set of at-bats. Ogasawara, Ramirez, and Shinnosuke Abe all singled to start the inning. However, with no outs and a golden opportunity to pull closer, the Hawks traded a run for two outs as Tani grounded into a double play, and then Kamei struck out swinging.

SoftBank answered back with two more runs in the bottom of the 4th off Huang, again with two outs, another continuation of yesterday's success. With two down, Kawasaki singled, and a mishandled pickoff throw got him to second. Honda legged out yet another infield single, and Tamura made sure that the effort would not go to waste with a two-run double for the 6-1 lead.

However, the Giants would not go away quietly, as Wakiya singled and Sakamoto doubled with one down. Yoshinobu Takahashi hit a sacrifice fly, and Ogasawara hit an RBI single to cut Yomiuri's deficit in half, at 6-3.

That would do it for Sugiuchi (W, 9-2), as the Hawks sent Yang to the mound, but Abe and Tani greeted him with singles, then Honda committed and error on an infield single by Kamei which allowed Abe to score. With Lee Seung-yeop pinch-hitting and Keisuke Kattoh on the mound, the Hawks would once again trade a run for an out as Lee got an RBI groundout.

With the Giants within striking distance, Tamura gave the Hawks just that little bit more breathing room in the 7th, as he cranked a solo blast (12) to give the Hawks a 7-5 lead.

The bullpen would make it stand up as Kattoh and Settsu both worked scoreless outings, with Settsu striking out the side in the 8th. Mahara worked a scoreless 9th for the save (16) and the Hawks completed the sweep of the Giants, also compiling a 3-1 record against them in interleague.

SoftBank's final interleague game will be against the Yokohama BayStars. The Orix Buffaloes have already clinched the interleague championship this year, so there will be no three-peat for the Hawks. The Hawks' makeup game will be tomorrow at Yokohama Stadium, weather permitting.
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