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John E. Gibson

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Buffaloes' imports spring to life against Eagles

by John E. Gibson (Apr 20, 2009)

Orix skipper Daijiro Oishi plugged in his power lineup on Sunday at Tokyo Dome and the Buffaloes went system overload on Tohoku Rakuten.

Tuffy Rhodes continued his hot start, belting a pair of solo homers and Jose Fernandez went 4-for-4 with a two-run homer and three RBIs as Orix blanked the Eagles 15-0 before 21,561.

The quartet of Rhodes, Fernandez, Alex Cabrera and Greg LaRocca produced 10 hits, four homers and eight RBIs as the Buffaloes earned a split in a two-game home set at the dome.

Fourth-year right-hander Mamoru Kishda (2-0) didn't need the offensive explosion. He went the distance for the first time in his career, scattering eight hits and a walk with six strikeouts to make it a shutout.

The win got the lethargic Buffaloes, who had dropped three straight, to .500 in Pacific League play after 14 games in what figures to be a close race.

"I'm really looking for our foreign players to get it going," Oishi said. "They haven't all been consistent and I'm not sure this was the end of it, but Tuffy was the man today," Oishi said of his cleanup man, who went 3-for-3 to raise his average to .471.

"Fernandez hit the ball well, too. If he can get a couple of hits in his next game, we might be able to say he is in form," the skipper said of the offseason pickup, who lifted his average to .278.

"We have a good lineup," Fernandez said. "Some people need to be patient and understand that we're not always going to hit the whole year. Somebody's going to get cold and somebody's going to get hot.

"But we just have to stick together and let people hit out of their slumps, if they are in a slump. If you let the lineup work, it's going to do a lot of damage," he said of the Buffaloes, who feature imports with a combined 31 years experience in Japan.

First-year Rakuten starter Darrell Rasner (1-1) took his lumps, allowing eight runs on seven hits, a walk and a hit batter over 3-1/3 innings.

The performance got Rakuten manager Katsuya Nomura grumbling after the game.

"We don't have enough pitching," Nomura spouted. "Ma-kun [Masahiro Tanaka] and Iwakuma aren't enough."


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