Yoshihisa Naruse was not successful against the SoftBank Hawks this season. With a 0-4 record against them this season, it seemed tailor made to give the Hawks a 2-0 series lead, with one game already played.
Not so, as Naruse was on his game, going the distance for a 3-1 Game 1 win for the Marines. The loss extends the Hawks playoff losing streak to four games, dating back to 2007.
The home pitcher for the Hawks was Toshiya Sugiuchi, who was not ace-like this season, especially against the Marines (4-1, 5.13). He made one crucial mistake in the second inning, serving up a three-run home run to Shoitsu Ohmatsu to give the Marines a lead they would not relinquish.
In all, Sugiuchi was merely mediocre again today, as he worked 6 and 1/3 innings, giving up three runs on six hits, with five walks and six strikeouts.
The Hawks would pull a little closer in the fifth inning, as Matsuda reached second on a single and a sacrifice, and Kawasaki lofted a single into right to score his teammate, but that would be all that SoftBank would get as Naruse dominated.
In his 134-pitch effort, Naruse only got better as the game went on. At one point, he struck out five people in a row, and five of his nine K's were from the 6th inning on. Combined with only four hits and three walks (none after the third inning), Naruse looked like the pitcher he was in 2007.
With the series tied at one game apiece, the Hawks are not quite in a must-win, but with Tsuyoshi Wada (17-8, 3.14) going tomorrow, it might as well be a must-win.