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2nd Straight Rally Leads to Series Win; Powell Falters Again

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2nd Straight Rally Leads to Series Win; Powell Falters Again

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The Hawks have been showing some signs of life as of late, but every time they show some form of life, they end up relapsing into mediocre play, or some awful pitching ends up being their undoing. Case in point: the final two games of this 3-game series between the Hawks and Orix Buffaloes.

The 2nd game of the series was sort of a replay of the first, with the Hawks coming back from a deficit in the 9th inning to win. DJ Houlton got the start and gave 6 solid innings, giving up one run on 2 hits, walking 2 (one intentional) and striking out 6. The only mistake he made was a pitch that Orix catcher Takeshi Hidaka crushed to right field for a home run, his 10th of the season.

Shogo Yamamoto, on the other hand, labored through 5 innings, giving up 2 runs on 7 hits, striking out three in his first start back from viral enteritis. SoftBank scratched a run across in the first, Matsunaka singled home Nakazawa in the 3rd for the only damage that SoftBank would get off of Yamamoto.

The bullpens decided the fate of the game from there, and both were solid. Koji Mise, who had been showing signs of life recently, got hammered again for 2 runs on 2 hits over only 1/3 of an inning.

The Hawks were in trouble again going into the 8th, but it was Nakazawa and Hiroki Kokubo to the rescue. Nakazawa singled and Kokubo's timely 2-base hit brought the substitute shortstop all the way around from first to tie the game at 3-3.

However, it was the pinch-hitter Tsuji who stole the show in the 9th. The speedy reserve outfielder launched a 1-out triple to deep center, and showed his speed again when pinch-hitter Hasegawa grounded into a fielder's choice, where Tsuji scored on a very close play.

One run was enough for Takahiro Mahara, as he slammed the door shut, improving to 4-for-4 in save opportunities since coming back from the disabled list. Final score: Hawks 4, Buffaloes 3. Hideaki Takahashi recorded the win, while Tsuyoshi Kikuchihara was tagged with the loss.

With a chance to sweep today, the Hawks sent the shaky right-hander Jeremy Powell to the mound to try and turn it around. Powell once again continued to make his case for a demotion to ni-gun, as he was only able to go 4 innings. He started well enough, retiring the side in order in the first, striking out 2 of 3 batters. However, it all went south from there.

Powell loaded the bases with a walk and 2 singles in the 2nd, then Hamanaka lifted a sacrifice fly to center field to score a run and cut SoftBank's lead in half to 2-1. Powell managed to escape further damage by getting the next batter to ground into a double play.

Alex Cabrera continued to torment the Hawks in this series as he singled home another run in the 3rd to tie the game at 2. In the 4th, the run-scratching continued as station-to-station baseball was the order of the day for Orix. A trio of singles put the Buffaloes ahead to stay, 3-2. It is interesting to note that all the hits that Powell gave up were singles. His final line was 3 runs (2 earned) on 7 hits, walking 1 and striking out 3. He took the loss and his record drops to 1-6.

Satoshi Komatsu was the polar opposite, as he gave up 2 runs on 8 hits, walking 1 and striking out 6. The two runs Komatsu gave up were back-to-back home runs from Kokubo (19) and Nao Ohmura (1). However, unlike the last 2 games, these were the only runs that the Hawks would get, as there would be no 9th inning rally today.

One run in four straight innings from the 2nd to the 5th. The recently-recalled Makoto Satoh was unable to stop the bleeding, as he gave up a single, got 2 outs, then failed to get out of the inning. Kitagawa singled, Hidaka was hit with a pitch to load the bases, then Hamanaka drew a bases-loaded walk. Another recent recall, CJ Nitkowski, got out of the inning, and gave 2 and 1/3 scoreless innings.

However, the final nail in the coffin was rookie Yuki Kume's inability to keep it close. He got one out, gave up a single to Shimamura and then Hiroyuki Oze hit his first home run of the year to make it 6-2. That was how the game would end. The good news is that the Hawks took 2 out of 3 from the pesky Buffaloes.

The Hawks next game is not until Saturday, as the Hawks take on another pesky team, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.
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