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Seibu activates magic number, crunch time for Hawks

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Seibu activates magic number, crunch time for Hawks

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Over the weekend, the Hawks dealt with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, and once again, they lost two of three to their arch-rivals. With losses of 2-1 and 4-1, and a 2-0 win, the Hawks fell ever further behind the Saitama Seibu Lions, who activated their magic number.

As of today, the Lions have a magic number of seven, with the Hawks trailing by three and a half games. With nine games to go for both teams and a head-to-head matchup coming at Yahoo! Dome at the end of the week, this is SoftBank's last chance to catch Seibu and earn that first-round bye, which would be an easy way to dodge the first round specter that has plagued the Hawks since 2007.

The home stretch for SoftBank
Starting tomorrow, the Hawks have a three-game series with their closest competitors, the Chiba Lotte Marines, a team that has played SoftBank tough this year. It also doesn't get any easier, given the projected pitching matchups (stats given are against the other team).

9/14: Yao-Hsun Yang (no record) vs. Bill Murphy (2-0, 1.76)
9/15: Tsuyoshi Wada (1-0, 0.50) vs. Shunsuke Watanabe (1-0, 2.00)
9/16: Shinsuke Ogura (2-1, 7.56) vs. Yoshihisa Naruse (0-4, 3.32)

Extrapolating further to the weekend series against Seibu, the matchups look like this:

9/18: Hiroki Yamada (0-4, 15.19) vs. Fumiya Nishiguchi (0-1, 11.74)
9/19: Toshiya Sugiuchi (4-4, 3.75) vs. Hideaki Wakui (3-0, 1.44)
9/20: Kenji Ohtonari (no record) vs. Kazuyuki Hoashi (3-0, 1.25)

All in all, not very favorable splits for the Hawks, especially in the Seibu series, against a team that has dominated them this season. If the Hawks want to win the PL, they have to dig deeper than they have this season. Given the ups and downs the team has had this season, they may yet be due for one last up before the playoffs.
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