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Same score, same story; Hawks squeak by, 2-1

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Featuring Jim (a.k.a. NipponHam11)

The title defense begins! Welcome to 2012, Hawks fans!

Same score, same story; Hawks squeak by, 2-1

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It's hard to say if any team has been on as much of a roll in interleague as the Hawks have been this season. After eight games (including today), they are still undefeated with a 6-0-2 mark, and the pitching has been just as dominant, carrying a 0.93 ERA.

The trend continued today as the Hawks swept another series, this time against the Yomiuri Giants. With a resurgent DJ Houlton on the mound, the visitors were able to get just enough offense to keep a 2-1 lead and give them the win.

It's a shame for Giants starter Shun Tohno, because he was brilliant in seven and two-thirds innings. It was his best start of the season as he gave up two runs on five hits, didn't walk anybody and tied a career-high with 12 strikeouts. It was just one mistake that cost him the game, which is tough on any pitcher when he has to be practically perfect.

In the top of the 8th inning, with Tohno (L, 1-5, 4.24) tiring, the Hawks once again channeled some two-out lightning. Hasegawa once again served as the fire starter, as he singled up the middle. Pinch-hitter Matsunaka also singled and was replaced by Shuhei Fukuda on the bases. Alex Cabrera was called on to pinch-hit for the pitcher Houlton with the game on the line. Despite batting .189 to this point, Cabrera delivered with a towering two-run double to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead.

Houlton (W, 6-1, 1.60) was just that little bit better today, as he gave up one run on five hits in seven innings with five strikeouts and a walk. The only run the Giants got was in the first, an RBI single from Alex Ramirez.

The bullpen had relatively little trouble, as Morifuku and Mahara gave up only one hit between them, and Mahara recorded his second save in as many chances this week. After losing his mother in April and having mechanical problems after, he seems to have figured it out, which would mean the Hawks have an even more formidable bullpen.

The Hawks' interleague campaign continues against the Yokohama BayStars at Yahoo! Dome on the 28th.
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