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Giants dominate again as Abe wins June MVP

by Jason Coskrey

The Central League’s monthly MVP for position players has thus far been a roll call of Yomiuri Giants.

Giants catcher Shinnosuke Abe won the award for the month of June, making him the fourth Yomiuri player (including pitcher Shun Tono), to win the award this season.

Abe led the CL in the three major batting categories last month, hitting .375 with 14 home runs and 21 RBIs. His victory continues a Yomiuri stranglehold on the monthly MVP award dating back to last season.

Alex Ramirez was honored last August after batting .374 with seven homers and 18 RBIs. Abe won in September (hitting .345 with 12 homers and 26 RBIs), claiming the final monthly award of the 2009 season.

This year opened with Michihiro Ogasawara being named the monthly MVP for the months of March and April (.359, nine homers, 29 RBIs) and Ramirez (.305, nine home runs, 25 RBIs) following with a win in May.

In addition to the Giants’ current streak of position players being named the monthly MVP, Tono won the award for the months of March and April.

Going all the way: Hanshin Tigers hurler Jason Standridge held the Tokyo Yakult Swallows to one run over the distance to earn his fifth win of the season on Tuesday.

That performance made him the first foreign pitcher to toss a complete game for the Tigers since Trey Moore did it during the 2003 season.

Standridge struck out eight and scattered 10 hits against the Swallows, improving to 5-1 on the year.

Still on the mend: It’s been a long year for Seibu Lions rookie Yusei Kikuchi. Drafted to much fanfare last year, Kikuchi has been little more than a blip on the radar on the Lions’ farm team.

Many of his woes stem from a left shoulder injury that has sidelined him in recent weeks. Kikuchi was scheduled to begin throwing again during practice earlier this week. Those plans were scrapped over concerns his shoulder had not properly healed yet.

The Lions are not sure when Kikuchi can return to action.

Hired hands: The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters were listed as the home team in their contest against the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks on Tuesday at Tokyo Dome. It just didn’t feel like it.

That’s because Softbank owner Masayoshi Son was in attendance and, in anticipation, the Hawks arranged for 10,000 Softbank employees to attend as well.

Combined with fans of the non-Softbank employed variety, they created a festive atmosphere in the stands all in support of the Hawks . . . or at the very least the Softbank brand. The ploy seemed to work as Softbank routed Nippon Ham 12-0.