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Tanaka breaks Ichiro’s mark for monthly MVP honors

Kyodo

Record-setting right-hander Masahiro Tanaka was named the Pacific League’s August pitcher of the month on Friday, becoming the first player to receive four consecutive monthly MVP awards.

By winning for the 11th time, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles star surpassed current New York Yankees outfielder Ichiro Suzuki for the most monthly honors in either league. Tanaka, who has won a record 24 consecutive decisions, went 5-0 with a 0.95 ERA in August. He walked five batters and struck out 44 in the month.

The PL’s player of the month award went to Fukuoka Softbank Hawks outfielder Seiichi Uchikawa. The Central League’s pitching honor went to rookie right-hander Shintaro Fujinami of the Hanshin Tigers. The award for position players was shared by Tokyo Yakult Swallows outfielder Wladimir Balentien and Yomiuri Giants third baseman Shuichi Murata.

Balentien, who is three home runs shy of Japan’s treasured single-season record of 55, hit 18 in August, the most ever in a single month. Murata, meanwhile, had 46 hits — also the most ever in a month.

Murata batted an impressive .422 but was second in the CL to Balentien’s .466 and had an on-base percentage nearly 100 points lower than his Swallows’ rival. Murata won the award for July, while Balentien won in June.

Fujinami, who went 4-0 with a 1.09 ERA in August, is the first rookie to win the award in his first year out of high school since Chunichi Dragons lefty Shinichi Kondo in August 1987.

Uchikawa had an impressive overall performance, leading both leagues with 11 doubles topping the PL with a .610 slugging average while batting .350. His 21 runs batted in were two shy of the league lead.