Everyone knew the day was coming soon, but no one expected it to come like this.
The SoftBank Hawks clinched the Pacific League pennant (their first since 2017) by defeating the Chiba Lotte Marines on Tuesday. They had a 12-game win streak snapped last week, then proceeded to win 6 straight (two before, four after the clinch) to re-assert their dominance over the entire baseball world. The Hawks will host the second-place team in the PL (the Marines hold a 1-game lead over the Lions, who are 1.5 up on the Eagles) for a best-of-five series the week before the Nippon Series starts on November 21.
Meanwhile, the Yomiuri Giants have held first place for the entire season in the Central, other than one strange day when the Swallows held a fleeting 0.5-game lead back in July. While no one doubted they would win the CL, they clinched with a tie on Friday night, which was preceded by five straight losses. It was their worst stretch of the season, but their lead was so insurmountable that they just had to endure while their nearest competitors lost their own games, too. This marks the second straight pennant for the Giants, and they will head directly to the Nippon Series.
Two records were set during the past week, both worthy of mention here. First, Yokohama DeNA Baystars Venezuelan slugger Jose Lopez became first import ever to record 1000+ hits in both MLB and NPB, as he hit a home run on Saturday in front of his home crowd. Probably the other closest import to the double-milestone until now was Giants’ legendary outfielder Warren Cromartie, who had 1104 MLB and 951 NPB hits.
Hawks speedster Ukyo Shuto set a new NPB record by recording a stolen base in 13 straight games. The previous record was held by Yutaka Fukumoto (Hankyu Braves – 1065 career SBs) who did it in 11 straight.
As promised a couple of weeks ago, here is a quick look at some of the prominent import hitters. Player order reflects the current standings.
Yurisbel Gracial (Hawks): .296/.346/.471, 10 HR, 35 RBI
Wladimir Balentien (Hawks): .168/.261/.346, 9 HR, 22 RBI
Leonys Martin (Marines): .234/.382/.485, 25 HR, 65 RBI, 72 R
Cory Spangenberg (Lions): .262/.319/.469, 13 HR, 49 RBI, 12 SB
Ernesto Mejia (Lions): .214/.281/.427, 11 HR, 33 RBI
Stefen Romero (Eagles): .276/.357/.549, 24 HR, 62 RBI
Jabari Blash (Eagles): .235/.369/.345, 2 HR, 18 RBI
Christian Villanueva (Fighters): .220/.321/.310, 4 HR, 19 RBI
Adam Jones (Buffaloes): .256/.331/.417, 12 HR, 43 RBI
Steven Moya (Buffaloes): .262/.317/.537, 10 HR, 32 RBI
Aderlin Rodriguez (Buffaloes): .223/.284/.375, 6 HR, 25 RBI
Zelous Wheeler (Giants): .246/.305/.421, 12 HR, 36 RBI
Gerardo Parra (Giants): .267/.305/.386, 4 HR, 13 RBI
Jerry Sands (Tigers): .264/.367/.467, 19 HR, 63 RBI
Justin Bour (Tigers): .243/.338/.422, 17 HR, 45 RBI
Dayan Viciedo (Dragons): .267/.329/.447, 17 HR, 82 RBI
Zoilo Almonte (Dragons): .294/.385/.463, 9 HR, 29 RBI
Neftali Soto (Baystars): .255/.327/.473, 24 HR, 76 RBI
Tyler Austin (Baystars): .284/.367/.613, 20 HR, 55 RBI
Jose Lopez (Baystars): .249/.270/.393, 11 HR, 39 RBI
Jose Pirela (Carp): .261/.309/.413, 11 HR, 34 RBI
Alcides Escobar (Swallows): .281/.319/.339, 1 HR, 30 RBI
Good week: Carp (5-0-1), Hawks (5-1)
Bad week: Dragons (0-6), Swallows (0-4-2), Buffaloes (1-5), Marines (1-4-1)
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