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Runs? You're not supposed to give up runs! Hawks trounce Swallows, 9-1

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Runs? You're not supposed to give up runs! Hawks trounce Swallows, 9-1

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It's been a season of surprises for the Central League so far. Who could have guessed that the top two teams in the league would not include the arch-rival Giants and Tigers, but the Yakult Swallows and the Hiroshima Carp?

The Hawks have had to play the latter two so far in interleague, and 2-0-1 so far against them following their 9-1 win today. SoftBank's #1 offense buried Yakult starter Tatsuyoshi Masubuchi and reliever Mikinori Katoh before the rest of the Swallows bullpen stopped the bleeding.

Tadashi Settsu was trotted out to face the home Swallows and gave up only one run in six innings of work. Yakult's only run came in the 5th inning on an RBI infield single by Norichika Aoki, ending SoftBank's scoreless pitching streak at 38 innings.

The game was decided in the first two innings, as the Hawks scored four runs in that span. Honda and Uchikawa reached on singles, and Tamura drove them both home with a two-out RBI double for the 2-0 lead.

In the top of the 2nd, Masubuchi (L, 2-2, 4.87) loaded the bases, starting it by committing the pitcher's sin: walking Settsu (W, 3-2, 4.12), who I believe was having his first career at-bat. Honda and Uchikawa both singled to load the bases for Kokubo, who doubled Settsu and Honda home to double SoftBank's total to 4-0.

It just got worse as Masubuchi managed to get through five innings, but not before the Hawks lineup gave him a parting gift of three straight doubles to drive home two more runs.

Settsu was mostly automatic as he cruised through six innings, giving up one run on five hits with five strikeouts and a walk. As in the last three games, the offense made his job easy, but this game being in a Central League park, the Hawks went to their action-starved bullpen and sent four pitchers to keep the Swallows off the board. Ohtonari and Kanazawa both pitched an inning, new call-up Yohei Yanagawa pitched two-thirds of an inning, and Morifuku slammed the door with one four-pitch batter.

SoftBank continued to pour on the offense in the interim. Uchikawa notched yet another modansho, this time with authority: he crushed a Mikinori Katoh pitch for a two-run home run (4) to cap a 3-for-5 effort, bringing his average back above the .400 mark to .407. Matsuda also crushed a home run of his own to keep pace with Takeya Nakamura for the Pacific League lead in home runs with nine. That also ended the scoring, with the Hawks heading back to their hotel with a 9-1, their fourth in a row, under their belts.

SoftBank continues their interleague campaign in a battle of the aces. Tsuyoshi Wada (2-1, 2.00) will take the mound for the visitors while Shohei Tateyama (3-1, 1.88) gets the ball for the home Swallows.
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