Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Hawks' Shota Takeda twirls one-hit shutout against Buffaloes

Kyodo

The day after a bullpen implosion, the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks rode Shota Takeda’s one-hitter to a 3-0 win over the Orix Buffaloes on Saturday.

The 25-year-old breaking-ball specialist combined fastball location with excellent command of his curveballs and sliders to stop the Buffaloes on 121 pitches at Yafuoku Dome. Takeda (1-2) gave up one double and issued two walks, while striking out six.

Yuki Yanagita opened the scoring in the fourth inning. Orix right-hander Taisuke Yamaoka (2-3) retired the first 10 batters he faced before Kenta Imamiya’s one-out single. Yanagita tagged the next pitch for his eighth home run of the season.

“The guys made some real good plays behind me and Gita’s homer helped me settle in,” said Takeda, who had twice allowed four runs in a game to the Buffaloes this season.

“I hadn’t pitched even one good game since the start of the season. I was pitching today like it was my last chance.”

After Yanagita’s homer, first baseman Seiichi Uchikawa singled for the 1,999th hit of his career, but he grounded out in his final at-bat. Fifty players in NPB history have previously reached the 2,000-hit milestone.

Yanagita gave Takeda an insurance run in the sixth, when he doubled with one out and scored on Alfredo Despaigne’s two-out double.

Yamaoka allowed a walk and five hits, while surrendering three runs over six innings.

“Takeda pitched a great game, starting with the fastball and moving on to his two sliders, the one that breaks horizontally and the one that drops,” Hawks manager Kimiyasu Kudo said. “That’s tough on a hitter. He got off to a good start and right up to the end was executing his pitches.

“This was big because it gave the bullpen a rest.”

In Friday’s series opener, the Hawks, who are without setup man Sho Iwasaki and closer Dennis Sarfate, blew a one-run, ninth-inning lead in a 5-4 loss.

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