Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Hawks positive despite slow start to Japan Series

by Kaz Nagatsuka

Staff Report

The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks wrapped up the first two games of the 2018 Japan Series without any wins.

But they remain positive after avoiding two losses.

“We feel composed,” skipper Kimiyasu Kudo said at Yafuoku Dome during Monday’s travel day. “We are pleased that we can play before our fans and appreciate the opportunity to show our Hawks baseball again.”

The Hawks, the reigning NPB champions, finished runner-ups during the season and will play in their house for the first time since the Climax Series First Stage when the Japan Series resumes with Game 3 on Tuesday night.

The Kyushu club fell 5-1 to the Central League champions Hiroshima Carp in Game 2 at Mazda Stadium on Sunday after opening the series with a 2-2 draw.

“We’ve just lost one game,” said SoftBank hitting coach Hiroshi Fujimoto, echoing Kudo’s sentiment.

“We’ll have three games here from tomorrow and even if we’ll go 2-1, we’ll be tied in the series.”

Carp starting pitchers Daichi Osera and Kris Johnson did superb work to hold Hawks bats to just three runs combined in the first two games. The Hawks had advanced to the championship series after crushing the Saitama Seibu Lions pitching staff with 44 runs in five Climax Series Final Stage games.

But Fujimoto did not worry about his hitters, stating: “We won’t face pitchers that are as good as we did (over the weekend) — We’ll go up against them with the sort of mindset.”

Hawks head coach Mitsuo Tatsukawa hinted that the day off on Monday would help his players physically.

“I can tell you this now,” he said. “It was tough for us to play five games in a row against Seibu. We had a celebration banquet (after the Final Stage win) and had the travel (back to Fukuoka) and all that.”

Tatsukawa predicted that if his Hawks players move their feet better in Game 3, there is “no doubt” that they can come away with a win in the end.

Tatsukawa also believes that Cuban southpaw Ariel Miranda, who will take the mound as SoftBank’s starting pitcher on Tuesday, will do an even more effective job against the Carp.

“You are not going to hit his change-up when you see it for the first time,” said Tatsukawa, a former Carp catcher and manager. “Have you seen him get hit when he pitches against Pacific League teams that have never faced him before? You haven’t.”