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Sugiuchi makes it three straight shutouts

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Sugiuchi makes it three straight shutouts

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What happened to the vaunted Tigers offense? This series right here was what I thought could be a preview of the Japan Series, but it was about as one-sided as a fan could imagine. Toshiya Sugiuchi and the SoftBank offense made sure of that.

Hawks opponents have been held scoreless for 34 straight innings now, going back to the 5th inning against Hiroshima this week. SoftBank starters have now thrown 27 straight scoreless innings, and the services of the bullpen have not been needed in that span, as Sugiuchi (W, 2-2, 1.31) made it three complete game shutouts in a row for the Hawks.

SoftBank held the line with a 1-0 lead until the 6th inning, when the floodgates finally opened for the team. Not only did they chase Hanshin starter Yasutomo Kubo, but they also sent nine batters to the plate. The first four batters reached, as Honda singled and was driven in by an Uchikawa triple, Cabrera drove home Uchikawa, and Kokubo hit a single of his own to chase Kubo.

Rookie hotshot Daiki Enokida was first out of the bullpen, and the Hawks greeted him by peppering him with RBI singles from Tamura and Matsuda. Hasegawa got his second RBI of the day with a sacrifice fly. The four-run sixth was more than enough, even though they did add two more in the 7th off Ryo Watanabe.

Hanshin's offense looked lost in both games, and today was no different. Sugiuchi loaded the bases in the top of the 3rd, but got Kentaro Sekimoto to ground out to end the inning. That was the hardest Sugiuchi had to work in the entire game, as no Hanshin batter got as far as second base the rest of the day. In going the distance, the Hawks' lefty ace also struck out eight batters and walked one to go along with four hits, and he also retired the last 18 batters he faced.

As if buoyed by the extinguished rally, SoftBank did what Hanshin couldn't against Kubo (L, 2-3, 3.76). Yuya Hasegawa went deep in the second inning for the first time this season to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead.

A quick note about the Hawks' feat today: this was the first time that the Hawks had thrown three straight complete game shutouts since 1971 when the feat was accomplished by Kiyohiro Miura, Mutsuo Minagawa, and Sanshiro Nishioka.

SoftBank remains undefeated in interleague play and are the only team to have that distinction after the Chunichi Dragons lost to the Saitama Seibu Lions. The Hawks will now move to Jingu Stadium to take on the first-place Yakult Swallows. Tadashi Settsu (2-2, 4.59) takes on Tatsuyoshi Masubuchi (2-1, 3.94).
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