Fukuoka Softbank Hawks win Japan Series title, want to play Royals
The Fukuoka Softbank Hawks have clinched their second straight Japan Series championship.
Thursday night at Jingu Stadium in Tokyo, the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks clinched their second straight Japan Series championship with a 5-0 win over the Tokyo Yakult Swallows (box score). The Hawks won the best-of-seven series in five games.
Here's video of the final out and the celebration:
“I feel great for all our players,” said Hawks manager Kimiyasu Kudo to Jason Coskrey of the Japan Times. “It is totally different winning as a manager than as a player. I feel happy for all my players who did such a great job this year, and we even won the Japan Series playing without our captain (Seiichi) Uchikawa. I want to congratulate them all.”
Kudo is in his first season as Hawks manager. He is the 10th rookie manager in Nippon Pro Baseball History to win a championship. Kudo won 11 titles (!) as a player during a 29-year career with four teams from 1982-2010.
“We hope he doesn’t get too comfortable,” said team chairman Sadaharu Oh to Coskrey in a Steinbrenner-esque moment. “We’ve set a goal to repeat and expect him to do the same next year.”
Uchikawa, an outfielder/first baseman and the team's cleanup hitter, suffered two broken ribs when he chased a foul ball into the stands earlier in the postseason. The 33-year-old was named the Pacific League Climax Series MVP after driving in the winning run in all three games against the Chiba Lotte Marines.
Korean slugger Dae-ho Lee was named Japan Series MVP. He hit a two-run home run in the Game 5 win and went 8 for 16 with two homers and 8 RBI in the five games. Lee is in his second season with the Hawks after playing 13 season in Korea.
Former big leaguer Jason Standridge started Game 5 for the Hawks and struck out two in six scoreless innings. He spent time with the Rays, Rangers, Reds and Royals from 2001-07. Former Orioles reliever Dennis Sarfate closed out the win with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.
Hawks owner Masayoshi Son doesn't just own the club, he is also the current chairman of telecommunications giant Sprint, which is based out of Kansas City. He joked that if the Royals win the World Series, he wants a true World Series between the Hawks and Royals.
“Sprint is in Kansas, so if the Royals win, we want to do a real World Series,” said Son to Coskrey with a smile. “I wonder why the American champions are called world champions and the series is called the World Series. We should play a real World Series with the Japanese champions and the American champions.”
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