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Monday, June 20, 2011

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Big winners: The Pacific League-leading Fukuoka Softbank Hawks celebrate winning their third interleague title. KYODO

NPB NOTEBOOK

Hawks, Pa. League stage another dominant interleague campaign


Staff writer

Another interleague season is in the books and, as has been the case in each of the previous seven years, a Pacific League team is raising the interleague pennant.

Pa. League teams rolled over their Central League counterparts, combining to finish with an above .500 mark for the sixth time in seven seasons.

While the PL romped again, this interleague campaign may be remembered more for the way the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks dominated all-comers.

The Hawks scored more runs that any team — by a wide margin — during cross-league action while also allowing the fewest.

They were unbeaten through their first 13 games against CL teams, ending a wildly successful period with an 18-4-2 mark.

"This is the result of cherishing each and every game," manager Koji Akiyama told reporters. "From me to the players, everybody concentrated on their job."

The Hawks won the interleague title for the third time, adding to the back-to-back titles they claimed in 2008 and 2009.

At the other end of the spectrum are the Hiroshima Carp, who wasted a solid start to the season by going 6-16-2 against the Pacific League.

The Chunichi Dragons finshed fourth overall, representing the year's top finish by a CL team.

Interleague play wrapped up on Sunday. Teams return to regular competition on June 24.

Put on the brakes: Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters pitcher Yu Darvish's brush with history came to an end on Wednesday in a 2-1 loss, only his second of the year, to the Hanshin Tigers.

Darvish threw a wild pitch in the third inning of that contest, allowing Matt Murton to score and ending his streak of consecutive scoreless innings at 46⅔ frames.

That was good for second longest streak in Pacific League history.

The league record belongs to former Nankai Hawks star Tadashi Sugiura, who threw 54⅔ straight shutout innings in 1959.

The overall NPB mark is one that may never be broken, a jaw-dropping 64⅓ consecutive scoreless frames by Hall of Famer Masaichi Kaneda in 1958.

Vultures circling: Hanshin Tigers manager Akinobu Mayumi came under fire this week after Hanshin stockholders used a recent meeting to take shots at the suddenly embattled skipper.

Reportedly among the topics leaked out to the press, was dissatisfaction with Mayumi's management of the team and his insistence on playing the aging Tomoaki Kanemoto.

The Tigers' slow start is surely not helping matters, so Mayumi may want to start winning a few more games before the heat really gets turned up.

Flying high: Fukuoka Softbank Hawks lefty Toshiya Sugiuchi hit a milestone last week, notching his 1,500th career strikeout.

Sugiuchi is the third-fastest in NPB history to the mark, needing just 1423⅔ innings.

Only Kazuhisa Ishii (1,432) and Yutaka Enatsu (1413) achieved the feat in fewer innings.

Bright spot: Yomiuri Giants hurler Tetsuya Utsumi threw a complete game against the Seibu Lions on Friday to become the first NPB hurler to reach nine wins this season.

Utsumi has been among the few bright spots, along with hitters Hisayoshi Chono and Alex Ramirez, in what has been an otherwise bleak season for the Kyojin. The lefty is 9-1 with a 1.32 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 10 starts.



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