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Sugiuchi, Aoyama win May awards

Kyodo

Yomiuri Giants southpaw Toshiya Sugiuchi led Nippon Professional Baseball’s May honor roll when the two leagues’ monthly awards were announced Tuesday.

Sugiuchi, who threw a no-hitter on May 30, won his first Central League pitcher of the month award after going 4-0 in five starts with a 0.68 ERA. In the Pacific League, Tohoku Rakuten closer Koji Aoyama also won his first award, while the honors for position players went to a first baseman in each league, the Chunichi Dragons’ Tony Blanco and the Orix Buffaloes’ Lee Dae Ho.

Sugiuchi struck out 50 batters in May, when he allowed one run in 7⅔ innings in the one start he did not win.

“It’s a difficult number to reach, 50 strikeouts in a month,” said Sugiuchi. “I think that speaks for the kind of groove I was in.”

“I’ve been allowed to play ball in a good environment. My teammates made it possible for me to win this award,” he said.

Aoyama saved six consecutive Golden Eagles games from May 9 to May 16, with the first five coming on consecutive days. The 28-year-old right-hander allowed just six hits and one walk in 11⅔ scoreless innings during the month and totaled eight saves and one hold. It was his first monthly honor.

“I never even imagined (winning this award),” said Aoyama. “I go all out each and every game, and I’m just happy my results were so well thought of.”