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Sugiuchi back on course, Hawks crush Lotte

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Sugiuchi back on course, Hawks crush Lotte

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As I had said in my previous article, the Hawks have three very important games this week against the Chiba Lotte Marines. These three games are about as crucial as you can get at this point in the season. At Chiba Marine Stadium today, the Hawks and a recently-struggling Toshiya Sugiuchi made mincemeat of the Marines, taking second place outright.

Sugiuchi (W, 10-3, 3.82) was helped by a 19-run offensive attack, and today also marked the third game in the row that the Marines had surrendered double-digit runs, making for a total of 39 runs over three games.

SoftBank mostly scored via the long ball, as the team hit five home runs, and scored 10 runs in the fifth inning alone. After a scoreless first inning, Yuji Yoshimi was lit up for four runs. Hasegawa and Morimoto both singled their way on, then the team's home runs leader last year, Hidenori Tanoue, socked a three-run home run (2) to start the scoring. After Kawasaki hit into an out, Honda doubled his way on, then scored on a Matsuda single, for a 4-0 lead at the end of the 2nd.

Satoru Morimoto was the source of the Hawks' next two runs in the top of the 3rd, as he hit his first career home run in his 332nd career game to stake SoftBank to a 6-0 lead.

Sugiuchi gave one back in the bottom of the fourth, as Kim Tae-Kyun crushed a home run of his own to cut into SoftBank's lead at 6-1.

However, that was all the Marines would get off Hawks pitching, as Sugiuchi kept the pressure up over eight innings, giving up just the one run on four hits, striking out eight and walking two to become the second Hawks pitcher to reach 10 wins this season (Tsuyoshi Wada), and the fifth overall in the league with Shun Tohno (YOM), Hideaki Wakui (SEI), and Bobby Keppel (NIP).

This was more of the dominant Sugiuchi that Hawks fans are used to seeing, as he has not been his usual dominant self. It was the first time in over a month that Sugiuchi had gone at least seven innings, and it was a great rebound from one of the worst outings of his career last week against Seibu.

Of course, it's always easy to settle down and pitch well when your offense scores 19 runs for you. The floodgates were opened in the 5th inning with a 10-run offensive attack. Lotte starter Yuji Yoshimi (L, 3-4, 6.07) was chased following the 3rd inning.

Instead, it was Katsuyuki Aihara and Koudai Matsumoto that were the sacrificial lambs for the SoftBank slaughter. Aihara only got one out, and it was the last batter he faced in Tanoue. Before that, Ortiz and Hasegawa reached, and advanced on a wild pitch. Morimoto continued his career day by singling both of them home.

Matsumoto did not fare much better. At first it looked like he would be able to stop the bleeding, as he got Kawasaki to ground out. Then he went over the falls. The next eight batters reached, with timely base hits from Matsuda (2-run double), Tamura (RBI single), Petagine (RBI double), Ortiz (3-run home run [18]), Morimoto (RBI single, scores Hasegawa from first), and Tanoue (RBI single). Mercifully, Kawasaki grounded back to Matsumoto for the final out of the 5th inning.

The Hawks would add three more in the top of the 6th off back-to-back solo home runs from Matsuda (7) and Shibahara (4), and Hasegawa doubled home pinch-runner Fukuda for the Hawks' 19th and final run.

Everybody in the visitors' starting lineup had a hit today, and the only ones who didn't get hits were Hayato Dohue, Fukuda, and Ryuma Kidokoro, and he didn't even get a plate appearance.

Hopefully, the Hawks haven't used up all their runs, as they still have two crucial games to play. Shinsuke Ogura (3-4, 4.41) takes the mound against Yuta Ohmine (2-3, 5.22).
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