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Sugiuchi, Blanco win monthly MVP honors

Kyodo

Yomiuri Giants lefty Toshiya Sugiuchi and Yokohama BayStars first baseman Tony Blanco were named the monthly MVPs in the Central League for their outstanding performances in March and April on Wednesday.

Seibu Lions right-hander Kazuhisa Makita and Lions left-fielder Takumi Kuriyama won the accolades in the Pacific League.

Sugiuchi notched three wins during the period and helped his team snap a four-game losing skid with a shutout against the Chunichi Dragons on April 30.

The 32-year-old Sugiuchi, who won the award in the CL for the second time since May 2012, beat out rookie teammate Tomoyuki Sugano, as well as Hanshin Tigers rookie Shintaro Fujinami for the honor. He also won it seven times in the PL.

“As it turns out, I’m happy I was able to win the monthly MVP, but I think my performances could have been better,” said Sugiuchi. “The second half of the season will be the real test. I have to be able to rise to the occasion when everyone is feeling worn down.”

Blanco had 15 home runs, featuring a three-homer game against the Yakult Swallows on April 7. He won the award for the third time, the first since May last year when he played for the Chunichi Dragons.

Makita went 3-0 with a PL-leading 0.85 ERA and Kuriyama batted .366 with a league-high 24 RBIs.

Both players received the honor for the first time. It was the first time since September 2009 that two Seibu players were honored simultaneously.