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Offense spreads the love with 13-run outburst

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Offense spreads the love with 13-run outburst
As consistent as the Hawks offense has been this season, they haven't exactly been overpowering, being fourth in the league in home runs and batting average, and fifth in runs scored.

However, those numbers don't seem to matter that much when looking at the 13-run outburst the Hawks got today against the Rakuten Eagles' pitching staff.

Every starter in the lineup with the exception of Hidenori Tanoue got at least one hit, and eight players had at least one run batted in, with Tomoaki Egawa leading the way with three RBI's.

Only one Rakuten pitcher was run-free through the day. Hiroki Yamamura worked three perfect innings with four strikeouts in that span. The rest weren't effective at all, especially starter Kohei Hasebe (3-4, 6.10). He was knocked around for seven runs (six earned) on six hits in four-plus innings, with five strikeouts, two walks, a wild pitch, and a hit batsman.

On the other side was Toshiya Sugiuchi, who hadn't won a game at Kleenex Stadium in almost four years. He was brilliant over eight innings (15-5, 2.94), giving up just one run, an RBI single to Ryo Hijirisawa with two out in the third that tied the game at one.

From there, it was all SoftBank. Three runs came across the next half-inning, with two of them coming off the bat of Roberto Petagine, and Egawa got credit for an RBI when he took a bases-loaded walk.

Hasebe was chased in the fifth when Kawasaki led off with a single, Honda doubled him in, and Matsuda followed that with a two-run blast, his 16th of the year. It was the second home run of the day for SoftBank, as Kokubo hit his 14th of the season, and the 398th of his career, to lead off the second inning.

They would add two more in the eighth (thanks to RBI singles from Hasegawa and Egawa) and four in the ninth, with the backups getting in on the hit parade as well.

Replacing Tamura as a pinch-runner after his single in the eighth, Ryuma Kidokoro got his pitch to hit and crushed a two-run triple that scored both Honda and Matsuda. Egawa added his third RBI of the day and 13th for the team after Hasegawa's strikeout.

Seibu was defeated again in dramatic fashion at the hands of the Fighters today, so that leaves the Hawks at one-and-a-half games out of first place going into tomorrow, where the Hawks will try for the sweep. Lotte is also quietly keeping pace, as they continue to remain one-and-a-half games out of second place.

Tomorrow's pitching matchup will feature Shinsuke Ogura (4-6, 5.08) against Masahiro Tanaka (10-6, 2.64), who is making his third start since coming back from a leg injury. He has also been very good against the Hawks in his career, sporting an 8-3 record with a 2.71 ERA.

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Michael Westbay
(aka westbaystars)

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