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John E. Gibson

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Buffaloes sweep July MVP honors

by John E. Gibson (Aug 7, 2010)

Orix is riding a pair of hard-charging Buffaloes as it races toward a spot in the Pacific League playoffs.

Right-hander Chihiro Kaneko and slugger Takahiro Okada were red hot in July and became the first Buffaloes to win monthly MVP awards together in seven years as they headlined the list announced Friday.

Tokyo Yakult Swallows southpaw Masanori Ishikawa was named the top Central League pitcher, and Hanshin Tigers infielder Keiichi Hirano was selected among position players.

Okada, a fifth-year infielder, cracked a league-best nine homers and took over the PL lead in RBIs by driving in 21 runs to win the honor for the first time.

Kaneko, a starter in his sixth season, went 5-0--including three consecutive complete games--allowing four earned runs over 40 innings to win the award for the second time in his career.

Selection of the two marks the first time two Orix players were chosen together since Ichiro Suzuki and Nobuyuki Ebisu did it in July 2000, when the team was still called the Blue Wave.

Meanwhile, Ishikawa was named the month's best Central League pitcher. The ninth-year starter went 4-0 in five straight quality starts--six or more innings with three or fewer runs allowed--to win the honor for the second time in his career.

The scrappy Hirano, in his ninth year, led the CL with a .435 average--including 14 multi-hit games--to earn the award for the first time in his career.


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