Sat. Sep 30th, 2023

They lost again, and again, and again.

After winning four straight Japan Series titles from 2017-2020, the SoftBank Hawks have lost nine straight. The Hawks suffered a 0-3 sweep against the Orix Buffaloes at the Fukuoka Dome on 17 July. The Hawks are winless in nine games dating back to 8 July against the Rakuten Eagles. They were swept in a three-game series by Rakuten, Seibu Lions and Oryx. This is the first time in the franchise’s history that they have lost three consecutive games against three different teams. The three-game sweep against the Oryx was particularly painful as they were in the thick of the race for the top spot.

스포츠토토It is the first nine-game losing streak in 27 years since 8-23 September 1996 during the Daejeon era.

The batting line-up, which had scored just 10 runs in the previous seven games, struggled. He had four hits and drew two walks but failed to convert them into runs. The team tried to shake things up by adjusting the batting order, but it didn’t work.

With runners on base, we couldn’t get the next hit. In the bottom of the first inning, No. 3 Gensuke Kondo drew a walk, but No. 4 Yuki Yanagita flied out to left field.

In the bottom of the second inning, No. 5 Nakamura hit a single to right field. After the first hit, Nos. 6-7 Makihara Daisei and Kurihara Ryoya struck out swinging and No. 8 Kawase Hikaru was thrown out at third base.

SoftBank starter Stewart pitched a scoreless fifth before giving up a three-run homer in the sixth. He gave up three runs in the seventh inning. Photo credit: SoftBank Hawks social media capture
In the bottom of the fourth, leadoff hitter Gondo drew his second walk, but the middle of the order was silent. Yanagita and Nakamura flied out to centre field in the fourth and fifth innings, and Makihara grounded out to first base in the sixth. The fifth and sixth innings were again a triple play. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Nakamura (#5) singled to left field, but no one came through.

In the top of the sixth inning, with the score tied at 0-0, SoftBank starter Carter Stewart got into trouble. With runners on first and second, Orix No. 4 Sedinho hit a three-run homer to right field. It was his second straight home run. The momentum shifted in favour of the Ducks with this one. The previous day (16th), Cedinho had tied the game in the second inning, setting the stage for a 2-1 victory.

Not a single SoftBank player reached second base on the day.

Orix starter Junhei Yamashita earned his seventh win with seven innings of two-hit shutout ball. He struck out eight on 90 pitches, completely shutting down the SoftBank bats. It was perfect revenge for the three runs he gave up in six innings against SoftBank on 14 May.

SoftBank’s No. 3 Gondo with one hit and two walks against the Orix on 17 May. Photo credit: SoftBank Hawks SNS
SoftBank, which had been in a three-way tie for first place with the Orix and Chiba Lotte Marines, dropped to third place. The gap between them and first-place Oryx has widened to 5.5 games.

SoftBank invested heavily in free agency last winter, signing top free agent Kondo and former Major League Baseball reliever Robert Osuna.

Nippon Professional Baseball concludes its first half on the 17th.

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