Started out with Avengers power…’Strongest’ SoftBank in 25 years has lost 8 straight, 10 points in last 7 games Vinta
The Pacific League’s “most dominant” team, the SoftBank Hawks, have fallen from grace over the past two years. Last season, they were in first place before falling to the fifth-place Chiba Lotte Marines in the final game of the pennant race. The Oryx, who leapfrogged SoftBank for the top spot, swept the Central League champion Yakult Swallows to top the Japan Series. It was the first time they had lifted the trophy in 26 years since 1996, when “Legend” Ichiro Suzuki played for them.
SoftBank won the Japan Series seven times in a 10-year span from 2011 to 2020. From 2017 to 2020, it was the top team for four consecutive years.
After struggling in the last two years, SoftBank has made a major upgrade. They acquired outfielder Gensuke Kondo from the Nippon Ham Fighters for a record-breaking sum. He was the No. 2 hitter for Japan at the World Baseball Classic (WBC).
7 years, 5 billion yen. Many teams, including his former club Nippon Ham, were in the running to sign him, but SoftBank couldn’t beat them. SoftBank boasts more financial power than Yomiuri.
It also signed former Major League Baseball reliever Roberto Osuna for an annual salary of 650 million yen. That’s the same amount as Orix ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who is the highest-paid player in Nippon Professional Baseball this year. Osuna joined Chiba Lotte during last year’s season, going 4-1 with a 9-1 record, 10 saves, and a 0.91 ERA. Naturally, Chiba Lotte wanted to re-sign him, but they couldn’t compete with SoftBank.안전놀이터
SoftBank also signed right-hander Kohei Aihara, who returned from Major League Baseball, for three years and 1.2 billion yen. May.
The team wanted to fill the void left by the departure of ace Senga Godai (New York Mets) to the lower leagues.
The team also recently signed Cuban Alfredo Despaigne, a longtime SoftBank slugger. Despaigne, who hit 184 home runs in nine years in Japan until last year, is 37 years old. The team also brought in foreign batters who hadn’t signed new contracts in order to improve their batting slump.
SoftBank, which is in a title race with the Orix and Chiba Lotte, is in a deep hole at the end of the first half. It has lost eight straight games for the first time in 25 years since 1998.
The game against the Orix was played at the Fukuoka Dome on the 16th. In the 10th inning of extra innings with the score tied 1-1, they gave up the game-winning home run to the Orix’s Venezuelan No. 4 hitter, Leandro Cedillo.
Osuna was relieved by Yuki Matsumoto to start the 10th inning, but was hit by a leadoff single. In the bottom of the 10th, SoftBank finished off the offense in three batters.
Prior to this game, SoftBank was strong in extra innings. They had a 6-2 record in eight extra-inning games.
They have lost eight straight since July 8 against the Rakuten Eagles. They have scored a total of 15 points in that span. Four games ended with one run. That’s a serious slump, even for a two-hitter.
SoftBank opened the scoring in the first inning against Orix left-hander Hiroya Miyagi. Two batters later, No. 3 Kondo hit a double to center field. Four batters later, Yuki Yanagita singled to left center to score a run. That would be the only run of the game.
The lead didn’t last long. In the top of the second inning, Ducks leadoff hitter Yuma Mune, No. 6, took a high fastball (145 kilometers per hour) from SoftBank starter Nao Higashihama for a solo home run. 1-1. The Orix had four hits on the day, two of them home runs.
SoftBank went scoreless in the bottom of the eighth with two outs. No. 3 Kondo struck out swinging on a 122-pitch fastball up the middle (146 mph) from Miyagi.
Three strikes were called on the ball at 3B. SoftBank manager Hiroshi Fujimoto was unhappy with the umpire’s strike call after the game. He argued that Gondo’s low, outside fastball from 3B1S was a ball.
The gap between the first-place Orix and third-place SoftBank widened to 4.5 games.