ERA Nobuyuki Ebisu (BlueWave) 3.26
Most games wonDaisuke Matsuzaka (Lions) 14
Most savesRodney Pedraza (Hawks) 38 SP
Most strike outsDaisuke Matsuzaka (Lions) 144
Highest batting averageIchiro Suzuki (Blue Wave) .387
Most base hitsMichihiro Ogasawara (Fighters) 182
HomerunNoriyuki Nakamura (Buffaloes) 39
RBINoriyuki Nakamura (Buffaloes) 110
Most on baseIchiro Suzuki (Blue Wave) .459
Stolen baseMakoto Kosaka (Marines) 33

The Hawks defeated the Buffaloes with a game winning run on Oct 1. It needs to win 3 more games on its own for the pennant victory.

On Oct 3, the Hawks faced runner up the Lions in Fukuoka. Daisuke Matsuzaka started for the Lions. The game went into the 10th inning, and the Lions managed to win 2 to 1 and halted the Hawks winning streak at 5. Matsuzaka earned his 13th win to lead the league. THe next day though the Hawks defeated the Lions 3 to 0. So only one more victory to go.

The Hawks faced the Marines on Oct 5. The Hawks were already leading 4 to 0 in the top of the 2nd inning, but the situation was reversed. In the end it lost 5 to 8. And because runner up, the Lions won that day defeating the BlueWave 3 to 1, the Hawks victory celebration was postponed. On Oct 6, the Hawks failed to win again. It lost to the Marines 4 to 5 while the Lions defeated the Blue Wave 5 to 1.

The Hawks was back home on Oct 7 for its final series of games with the Blue Wave. It was a competitive one until Hiroki Kokubo blasted a homerun. That gave the Hawks a 1 to 0 victory to clinch the league pennant for the 2nd straight year. Sadaharu Oh went up in the air, hurled by his players.

On Oct.9 Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched against the Marines. He hurled over a distance and clinched his 14th win, securing the pitching title for the 2nd year in the row. The Lions won 5 to 1.

On Oct. 12, the Blue Wave's Ichiro Suzuki who is near clinching the leading average hitter title for the 7th straight year announced that he would like to play in the US next season. He said that he will start negotiating with teams under a bidding system. Ichiro has been out for more than 40 days the later part of this season, but decided to make his final appearance as a BlueWave player in his team's final game at the Kobe Green Stadium this year. On Oct. 13 he played the final inning. The Blue Wave won 2 to 1 over the Lions. Michiyo's Note: By the way fans were looking forward to Daisuke Matsuzaka pitching to Ichiro, but this was not realized. What happened was, that Matsuzaka was charged for illegal driving and parking while his PR man and former speedskating star, Akira Kuroiwa for having lied to police to take the blame for Matsuzaka's illegal parking. The Lions decided to take Matsuzaka off the player's list, and he punish him for the wrongdoing by keeping him out of off season games, including the US-Japan dream matches.

On Oct. 14, the Marines Tomohiro Kuroki was able to clinch his 10th win. This means he was able to mark a 2 digit win for 4 straight seasons. On Oct. 16, the final game of the entire seasong was played between the Marines and the BlueWave at Chiba Marine Stadium . Shingo Ono who during a certain period was known as "Sunday Shingo" got hold of his 13th win, and the ERA title.

Final league standing
1. Fukuoka Daiei Hawks
2. Seibu Lions
3. Nippon Ham Fighters
4. Orix Blue Wave
5. Chiba Lotte Marines
6. Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes

The Hawks kept its hope for the pennant win by defeating the BlueWave 3 to 2, and the Lions losing to the Buffaloes 4 to 5 on Sept. 1. The Hawks won again the next day with a game winning run batted in by Kenji Jojima. And with the Lions losing again, this time 1 to 12, it's inched a game closer.

The Hawks succeeded to replace the Lions for 1st place on Sept. 5. That's by defeating the Fighter 4 to 5. Then, the next day, it clinched its 5th straight win in a 11 to 7 game.

The top 2 teams faced eachother from Sept. 8. The first day was a seesaw game but in the end the Hawks clinched it 6 to 3. The Hawks won agains on Sept. 10 by slamming Daisuke Matsuzaka. It was a 7 to 5 game. On Sept 12, the Hawks stretched its winning streak to 9. It beat the Marines 7 to 3. The Lions at last halted is losing streak at 8 that day with a 16 to 1 win over the Fighters. It managed to win again the next day 7 to 5. The Hawks on Sept 13 lost to the Marines before a crowd of 45,000. It's winning streak was halted there. The Marines' Tomohiro Kuroki collected his 8th win the day before leaving for Sydney. By the way, the pro baseball players including Daisuke Matsuzaka of the Lions left for the Sydney Olympics Sept 14.

On Sept 15, the top two teams both lost. The Hawks to the Buffaloes 1 to 2, and the Lions to the Blue Wave 5 to 6. The next day, the Hawks lost again 0 to 6, while the Lions' game was rained out. At last the Hawks managed to win on Sept 17, 6 to 1. And the Lions lost 5 to 8. The Hawks have no games planned for a while, so most players have decided to relax at a hot spring resort.

The Buffaloes and the Fighters game was the only one of the league on on Sept 19. The Fighters Michihiro Ogasawara broke the league record for the number of times he stepped into home plate. It was his 120th time this season. His team won 10 to 4 and the Fighter ranked 2nd place. However, the Fighters lost the next day 1 to 8.

The Hawks played the Buffaloes on Sept 23. Hiroki Kokubo smacked his 29th homer to help his team win 5 to 1. The Lions and the Fighters faced eachother. The Fighters won 7 to 3 over the Lions. On Sept 24, the Hawks won again 9 to 5. It needs to win 6 more games at the most, for its pennant victory. The Fighters by the way, won too 9 to 1.

Players who were on the Olympic team were back, joining their respective teams on Sept 30. So Taguchi with his homer, helped the BlueWave defeat the Marines 10 to 8. The Buffaloes made a wrong judgement of catching the ball in the foul area which resulted in a game winning sacrifice fly for the Lions. The leading team, defeated the Fighter 3 to 2.

League standing as of September 30
1. Fukuoka Daiei Hawks
2. Seibu Lions
3. Nippon Ham Fighters
4. Orix Blue Wave
5. Chiba Lotte Marines
6. Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes

The Marines' Tomohiro Kuroki was promoted from the farm team and started on Aug. 1. He struck out 11 in 4 1/3 innings. But he succumbed to 6 runs including a grand slam to the BlueWave. The team lost 3 to 10. The Hawks reversed the game against the Buffaloes in the 8th with Hiroki Kokubo's 3 run homer to win 5 to 3. It won again the next day 2 to 0. On Aug. 3 only one game was played. It's the Marines vs the BlueWave. The BlueWave won 4 to 0 and for the Marines it was the team's 4th defeat in a row.

The Lions Daisuke Matsuzaka shut out the BlueWave for his 10th win on Aug.4. It helped the Lions replace the BlueWave for 2nd place. But then the next day the BlueWave marked a decisive run in the final inning to win 5 to 4, and returned to 2nd place. Ichiro grand slammed. The Hawks with Hiroki Kokubo's 22nd homerun defeated the Fighter 2 to 0 and marked its 5th win in a row. That streak was extended the next day and the Hawks total win this season reached 50.

Daisuke Matsuzaka played on Aug. 7, but not as a pitcher. To everyone's surprise, he pinched hit in the 9th inning. And he batted in 2 runs. It was his first time at bat this year and for the first time in 25 years that a pitched pinched hit in the league. The Lions defeated the Blue Wave 8 to 3. The next day the Lions overwhelmed the league leader 6 to 2. On Aug. 9 it was the Hawks that won 6 to 2. Then the following day, Daisuke Matsuzaka managed to collect a league leading 11th win in a 5 to 4 game over the Hawks.

The Hawks overwhelmed the Buffaloes 12 to 0 to keep its lead in the league while the Lions stuck behind be defeating the Marines 3 to 0. It won again 6 to 1 the next day while the Lions did too 2 to 1 over the Marines. On Aug. 13, the Hawks extended its winning streak with a 3 to 0 win. But on Aug. 15, the Hawks in a 10 inning game lost 2 to 5 to the BlueWave. The Hawks though the next day reversed a competitive game to 7 to 4 in the end. It then lost the following day 8 to 12 to the BlueWave while the Lions won 6 to 0 to the Buffaloes.

On Aug. 18 the Hawks' Koji Akiyama slammed his 2000th career base hit. This has qualified him to join the "meikyukai", a prestigious organization which his team's skipper Sadaharu Oh is a member. However, his team lost to the Marines 5 to 8 and that defeat cost it its top place. It was taken over by the Lions which did not have a game. The next day, the Hawks won by defeating the Marines 6 to 4 and the Lions lost to the Fighters 5 to 6. Their rankings were reversed. And on Aug. 20, they exchanged places again with the Lions winning 7 to 3, and the Hawks losing 5 to 6 even though Hiroki Kokubo homered.

The top 2 teams met from Aug. 22. The Lions was able to win 3 to 2 over the Hawks for its victory and kept its lead. The next day, the Lions clinched a seesaw game with Tony Fernandez's game clinching 2 run homer. The game ended in the 10th inning 11 to 9. But on Aug. 24, the Hawks won 1 to 0. By the way, the Fighters by defeating the BlueWave in all 3 games surged to 3rd place.

The Lions' Taisei Takagi helped the team with a grand slam for a 10 to 7 victory over the Buffaloes on Aug. 25. On Aug. 26, the Lions, however, lost 4 to 8. But the Hawks too lost thus the distance remaining the same. By the way, the Marines Tomohiro Kuroki shut out the BlueWave for his 5th win. The Fighter are actually doing well. On Aug. 27, it clinched its 5th win in a row winning over the Hawks 7 to 5. By the way, Ichiro hurt himself in the game against the Marines. It's under his right arm. And he may not make it back this season. Ichiro leads in the batting average with .387.

On Aug. 28, the Fighters won again, It defeated the Hawks 8 to 7 and opening up a chance for it to seek first place. The next day though, the Fighters winning streak was put to an end by the Buffaloes' slugger Noriyuki Nakamura's 2 run homer--his 30th. The Hawks that day marked its 4th straight loss in a 3 to 11 game against the Marines. The Lions and the BlueWave played the longest game in the league's history of 5 hours 32 minutes. The game though ended a 9 to 9 tie in the 12th inning. Then the next day the leader defeated the BlueWave to a shut out game of 8 to 0. Takashi Ishii hurled over a distance. The Hawks lost again this time 1 to 4.

The Hawks game was rained out on Aug. 31. And the Fighters which played the Buffaloes won 12 to 6. It exceeded the Hawks to take 2nd place. And the Lions lost 5 to 12 to the BlueWave. The Fighters is only 2.5 games behind the leader.

League standing as of August 31
1. Seibu Lions
2. Nippon Ham Fighters
3. Fukuoka Daiei Hawks
4. Orix Blue Wave
5. Chiba Lotte Marines
6. Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes

The Hawks did not play terrifically on July 1 though Hiroki Kokubo slammed a homer for the 3rd day in a row. It tied 3 to 3 to the Buffaloes. Meanwhile, the Lions lost to the Fighters 3 to 4, and with this result, the Hawks surged to 1st place. The Hawks kept its place the next day by reversing the game the Buffaloes lead with Norihiro Nakamura's 24th 3-run homer. It ended 8 to 5. The Hawks defeated the Marines 9 to 1 on July 4. The next 2 games, the Marines won.

The Lions' Daisuke Matsuzaka lost 5 runs in 4 innings and succumbed to his 5th loss already on July 6. The Lions lost 4 to 9 to the Buffaloes.

On July 7, the BlueWave slugged homers after homers and defeated the Buffaloes 8 to 1. With this 4th win in a row, the BlueWave surged to first place. The Blue Wave continued its winning streak by winning 4 to 3.

Daisuke Matsuzaka came on as a relief pitcher for the Lions on July 8. He luckily was accounted for the win--his 6th this season crushing the Hawks 9 to 5. Meanwhile, the Marines Tomohiro Kuroki lost his 9th game--the worst record in the league so far. Again he was scored due to bad field work facing a 2 to 9 defeat. He was demoted to the 2nd tier team following. On the contrary, his teammate Shingo Ono kept his luck by collecting his 9th straight win in a 8 to 4 game over the Fighters the next day.

The Blue Wave marked its 2nd straight loss on July 12, even though Ichiro's batting average went up to .405. The Lions meanwhile outlashed the Fighters 8 to 0 to replace the BlueWave for first place. The Blue Wave dropped further in the standings with its 3rd straight loss on July 13 switching places with the Hawks. It's losing streak continued until June 15.

The Hawks returned to first place on July 14 with its defeat over the Fighters and the Lions loss against the Marines. It kept its rank the next day despite its 2 to 7 loss because the Lions lost in the final inning 6 to 7. The Hawks finally won dramatically on July 16, 4 to 3 over the Fighters. On July 19, the Marines reversed the game due to Kiyoshi Hatsushiba's homer. The Hawks lost 5 to 6. The BlueWave on the other hand defeated the Lions 7 to 4 inching close to the leader.

The first games after the all star break were held on July 28. The top team Lions Daisuke Matsuzaka hurled over a distance to take his team to a 6 to 0 win over the Buffaloes. The Hawks defeated the BlueWave with Hiroki Kokubo's 19th homer winning 5 to 3 to keep 2nd place. On July 29, both the Lions and the Hawks lost. On July 30, the Buffloes' Norihiro Nakamura had his 26th homer but his team lost to the Lions 7 to 10. The BlueWave's Ichiro hit a batting average of .401 but he could not help his team win. It was a 6 to 8 game. Sunday Shingo Ono of the Marines as he is known this season has his winning streak stop at 10. He lost 6 runs in 4 innings and his team succumbed to a 1 to 8 loss over the Fighters.

On July 31, the Hawks defeated the BlueWave 6 to 0 and with the Lions not playing a game, it took over the top post. Hiroki Kokubo slammed his 20th homer run.

League standing as of July 31
1. Fukuoka Daiei Hawks
2. Seibu Lions
3. Orix Blue Wave
4. Nippon Ham Fighters
5. Chiba Lotte Marines
6. Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes

The Lions defeated the BlueWave on June 1 to become the sole leader in the league ranking. The Marines' Tomohiro Kuroki pitched with a new haircut. But his pitching was a nightmare. He lost a grand slam and more to the Buffaloes in his worst performance and succumbed to his 5th loss in a 5 to 10 game. On June 3, Daisuke Matsuzaka did not last. He gave up 6 runs and took his 4th loss. The Fighters' won 17 to 3. In fact, other winners in the league recorded double digit runs too. The Buffaloes 17 to 3 over the Blue Wave, and the Marines 11 to 6 over the Hawks. The next day, the Lions lost again 1 to 3, and the Blue Wave lost 2 to 4.

The Blue Wave and the Lions tied for first place June 6 with the Blue Wave defeating the Hawks and the Lions losing to the Buffaloes. The following day the BlueWave won again but the Lions won too, so the ranks remained the same. The bad news that day was, the Marines ace pitcher Tomohiro Kuroki lost his 6th game, thus failing to be back in shape.

The Buffaloes Norihiro Nakamura blasted his 19th homer on June 9. He's homered in 5 straight games. And his team defeated the Hawks 3 to 2. The Lions and the BlueWave both won again to tie for first place. On June 10, BlueWave's Ichiro achieved a wonderful record. He made it to base twice and improved his batting average to .401. But the team in the end lost to the Fighter 4 to 13. It lost again the next day 3 to 7. By the way, in the 9th inning, Masao Kita pitched for the first time since the team acquired him from the Detroit Tigers. The Lions lost both days too, so remained tied with the BlueWave for first place.

On June 13, The Lions had its 3rd straight loss in a 4 to 5 game against the Hawks. The BlueWave's game was rained out and the Lions fell to 2nd place. But the Lions kept its place the next day with Fumiya Nishiguchi hurling over a distance to take the team to a 6 to 1 victory. The BlueWave could not play again due to rain. On June 15, the Blue Wave played but lost to the Marines 5 to 6--it's 3rd straight loss. But kept first place because the Lions lost. However on June 17, the BlueWave lost to the Lions 4 to 3, thus giving up its first place. The bottom team, the Marines meanwhile stretched its consecutive wins to 5 by defeating the Buffaloes 8 to 5. It won again on June 19, 4 to 3 to at last leave the bottom most post.

On June 20, the Buffaloes Narciso Elvira completed a no hitter game over the Lions. It's not new for him. He did it twice in the Mexican league. But the Lions stayed first on June 21 by defeating the Buffaloes 5 to 2. The Hawks is 2nd winning 9 to 2 to the BlueWave which faced its 6th loss in a row. The BlueWave at last won on June 24 by defeating the Lions 6 to 1 and again the next day 10 to 1. That day, Shingo Ono of the Marines clinched his 8th straight win-- all on Sundays even though he was yielded 6 runs in just 5 innings by the Hawks.It was a 11 to 8 game.

The BlueWave acquired a new foreign player, Jon Nunnally who used to play for the New York Mets. He suddenly homered and even stole base to give the BlueWave a win on June 28. Masao Kida took his 2nd save. A non-Japanese player much more in the spotlight during the past week was the Marines' Brian Warren. The Lions' skipper Osamu Higashio has been accusing him of scratching the ball deliberately. The 2 teams faced eachother on June 29 and Warren closed the game with all his might and jumped with job to defeating the Lions 5 to 4. Warren clinched his 12th save.

The Lions' Daisuke Matsuzaka was on the verge of winning a no-hitter game until the 9th. He shut out the Fighters to take the Lions to a 1 to 0 win after 3 games in defeat.

League standing as of June 30
1. Seibu Lions
2. Fukuoka Daiei Hawks
3. Nippon Ham Fighters
4. Orix Blue Wave
5. Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes
6. Chiba Lotte Marines

The Pacific League announced on May 1 that it's selected 6 players from a team each to go to the Olympic Games in Sydney. The include the Lions' Daisuke Matsuzaka and the Marines's Tomohiro Kuroki. On May 2, the Blue Wave dragged the Fighters from the top spot winning 6 to 0. For the Marines, it was a elating victory, thanks to Frank Bolick's game clinching homerun over the Buffaloes. The Marines winning streak reached 4 amazingly the next day winning 4 to 2. That day, former sumo champion Wakanohana hurled the first pitch of the day for the Hawks. But it did not bring fortune to the team. It faced a 4 to 10 defeat to the Lions. However, the next day, the Hawks blasted runs after another. Nobuhiko Matsunaka's 9th homer, a grand slam, giving the team a 13 to 4 win.

On May 5, the Marines winning streak was halted at 5 with its loss to the top team, the BlueWave 3 to 6. The Fighter's stretched its losing streak to 4 in a no-run game of 0 to 4. The Lions Fumiya Nishiguchi hurled over a distance. But it was able to crush Daisuke Matsuzaka the next day. Matsuzaka pitched to test how well his leg's recovered in the 7th and 8th innings. The Fighters' ace pitcher Tsutomu Iwamoto clinched his first win by hurling over a distance in a 6 to 2 game. On May 7, the Lions won 2 to 1. The Marines Shingo Ono marked his first shut out game. It was over the BlueWave 9 to 0.

The Blue Wave played a strange game against the Buffaloes in Yonago in southern Japan on May 9. The game was stopped after finishing 5 innings due to a fog. The Blue Wave clinched the game 10 to 8. April's MVP, Sherman Obando smacked his 12th homer to help the Fighters crash the Hawks 6 to 4. Daisuke Matsuzaka marked his first ever save in pro baseball. He pitched from the 7th inning against the Marines and kept the opponent from scoring for a 9 to 0 victory. The Lions won again the next day 2 to 0 to inch closer to the BlueWave who lost to the Buffaloes. But the following day, the Lions Fumiya Nishiguchi was knocked out in the 2nd inning, and as a result the team lost 3 to 7 to the Marines.

The Marines' Tomohiro Kuroki at last started the game on May 12 against the BlueWave. This time, with the support Frank Bolick's 2 run homer, Kuroki held on, and won his first game of the season. It was a 6 to 4 game. The Marine's stretched its winning streak to 3 by overwheldming the Orix the next day too 9 to 3. However, with the Buffaloes winning, the Marines was still ranked last. The Buffaloes on May 12 scored like crazy with homers by Tuffy Rhodes and Phil Clark to defeat the Fighters 19 to 4 and the following day, 12 to 7.

The BlueWave faced another loss against the Marines on May 14-- 2 to 3. The Lions on the other hand with a happy comeback of Daisuke Matsuzaka as a starter won 5 to 0 over the Hawks to replace the BlueWave for first place.

The BlueWave's losing streak stopped at 4 on May 16. Thanks to Ichiro's homerun it overwhelmed the Fighters 5 to 1. The next day it's won 9 to 5. Hidetaka Kawagoe marked his 5th win. There was a black out, and lights dimming at the Osaka Dome that day due to a thunderstorm. Fumiya Nishiguchi's pace was spoiled but not enough. Nishiguchi hurled a distance in the 4 to 1 game against the Buffaloes.

Tomohiro Kuroki was awesome on May 18. He struck out 14 times, and pitched over a distance proving that he was finally back on track. The Marines won 8 to 1 over the Hawks. But the following day, it's lost to the Fighters due to Atsushi Kataoka's homerun 6 to 7. Then on May 20, the Marines reversed a game thanks to Koichi Hori's grand slam to win 11 to 5--it's first victory this season over the Fighters. Sadaharu Oh, Hawks' skipper and world's homer run record holder celebrated his 60th birthday with his team's 6 to 5 victory over the Buffaloes in the 11th inning. The BlueWave and the Lions played the very first baseball game at the Olympic Stadium in Nagano, the site of the 1998 Winter Games. The BlueWave clinched the game 2 to 1 and kept its top post as well. The next day, it's batted in 6 runs from Daisuke Matsuzaka to win 8 to 2. For Matsuzaka, it's his first loss.

Sherman Obando of the Fighters slammed his 14th homer and took his team to a 16 to 2 win over the BlueWave on May 23. But on May 24, the BlueWave reversed the game to win 7 to 6. While it didn't have a game the next day, runner up the Lions Fumiya Nishiguchi shut out the Hawks for his 4th win.

The Lions' Daisuke Matsuzaka completed a shut out game on May 27 in Akita Prefecture against the Marines. Meanwhile the BlueWave lost to the Hawks 9 to 10. Then the next day, Hiroki Kokubo blasted a game winning 3 run homer to take the Hawks to another "sayonara" win over the Blue Wave. Then on May 30, the top two faced eachother. The Lions with big contributions by Tony Fernandez won 4 to 3. It's tied for first place with the Blue Wave. On May 31, the game between the Hawks and the Fighters was the only one on. The rest was rained out. It was competitive game which the Hawks clinched in the 10th inning 6 to 5.

League standing as of May 31
1. Seibu Lions
1. Orix Blue Wave
3. Fukuoka Daiei Hawks
4. Nippon Ham Fighters
5. Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes
6. Chiba Lotte Marines

The Lions' star pitcher who clinched Rookie of the Year last season opened the game on Apr. 1. 19 year-old Daisuke Matsuzaki became the youngest pitcher to start the opener. He, however, threw 7 innings losing 3 runs. The Fighters' Nigel Wilson contributed with base hits and invoking bad ground work by Tony Fernandez. The Lions only scored in the 7th inning with Hiroyuki Takagi's 3 run homer to come to a tie. In the 10th inning, Ken Suzuki finished the game with a winning run. The next day, however, the Lions lost. Fighters' veteran player Atsushi Kataoka smashed a career homer number 100 and took the team to a 7 to 3 victory. Last year's champion Hawks opened the season at home in Fukuoka, First to bat, Koji Akiyama blasted a homerun. Later, former homerun king Hiroki Kokubo homered too. Opposing team, the Marines' started Tomohiro Kuroki was not in shape. However, the Hawks' Tatsuji Nishimura did not do will either. The game was 8 to 7 for the Hawks. The Hawks won again the next day 9 to 6. Blue Wave's Hiroshi Kobayashi had become the first to hurl a shutout game. He did it for the opener which finished 4 to 0 over the Buffaloes. The BlueWave defeated the Buffaloes the following day too 9 to 2.

The Buffaloes had its first game at its franchise, Osaka Dome with a line-up of fans picks. They received 83,000 votes for this. The top ranker Tuffy Rhodes could not contribute. Whereas, Hawks Hiroki Kokubo homered twice to overwhelm the Buffaloes 8 to 3. Like the Buffaloes, the Marines lost its 3rd straight game even though newcomer from the Giants' Hiroo Ishii celebrated his 150th career homer. It was a 2 to 10 loss to the Lions. Ichiro homered and his team won its third game in a row defeating the Fighter 9 to 3.

The Hawks winning streak reached 4 on Apr. 5 with Hiroki Kokubo's 4th homer of the season overwhelming the Buffaloes 10 to 5. But it ended the next day with its 3 to 4 defeat even though Kokubo slammed the ball again. For the Buffaloes, it was its first victory of the season. The Marines decided to give it a shot by starting its ace Tomohiro Kuroki on Apr. 7. But Kuroki gave up a whooping 9 runs to the Buffaloes. Most fans must've thought that the Marines would continue its winless streak. It didn't though. The Marines won 10 to 9. Daisuke Matsuzaka had a tipsy start but held on and went a distance to clinch his 2nd win. The Lions defeated the Blue Wave 6 to 2. Hiroki Kokubo homered again that day and took the Hawks to a 7 to 1 victory over the Fighters.

The Buffaloes may be picking up. On Apr. 8, it's ended a 11th inning game against the Marines 4 to 2. And new pitcher Hiroki Yamamura who's acquired from the Tigers hurled a distance a no-run game on Apr. 9. On Apr. 11, it was, however, defeated by the Fighters 3 to 7 which included a grand slam by Sherman Obando.

The same day, the top 2 rankers faced eachother. In the beginning, the Lions defense was quirky. But it starting hitting and running well, winning over the Hawks' 4 to 2. The Lions won the next day 3 to 0. And it's extended its winning stretch on Apr.13, with Daisuke Matsuzaka pitching 7 innings for his 2nd win. The Marines picked up its 2nd win of the season in a 5 to 3 game over the BlueWave on Apr. 11. But after that it lost 2 games-- in a chaotic 8 to 9, 10 inning game and a 1 to 2 close game against the Blue Wave,

The Lions' winning streak reached 5 on Apr. 15 with a 8 to 0 victory over the Buffaloes. Other PL games were rained out that day. The Lions' streak ended the next day in a 1 to 5 loss. The Hawks which had a good start faced its 6th straight loss on Apr. 16 in a 5 to 6 game agains the BlueWave. Meanwhile it's the BlueWave's 4th victory in a row.

The Hawks finally won on Apr. 18-- 5 to 1, but it was against the ailing Marines. The Blue Wave defeated the Lions 4 to 2 to earn 1st place in the league. The Fighters clinched 2nd place on Apr. 19 winning over the Buffaloes 15 to 3.

Daisuke Matsuzaka was not the pitcher we've known him to be on Apr. 21. He not only did not have good control of the ball, in the 2nd inning, as he went to home base to back up, he crouched in pain. He was found out that he sprained his ankle and that he will withdraw from the team for awhile. Without Matsuzaka, the Lions' still won 5 to 1 against the Fighters. The Lions won the next day 9 to 6. It ties for first place with the BlueWave which with Ichiro's contribution defeated the Marines 9 to 2. It was the BlueWave's 6th win in a row. On Apr.23, the Blue Wave finally lost, and that means the Marines marked a win--it's third this season in a 3 to 1 game. The Lions lost too so the 2 teams still tie for the top spot. The Lions' veteran catcher Tsutomu Ito. by the way. marked his 2000th game.

On Apr.25, the Lions' rose to first place with its win over the Buffaloes 9 to 3. To Matsuzaka fans, the good news is that he's recovering much quicker than initially thought. The Lions' kept it's spot the next day even though it lost 2 to 8. The Buffaloes Tuffy Rhodes slammed a 3 run homer--his 6th so far. The Marines' ace pitcher Tomohiro Kuroki failed to revive. He was unable to keep the Marines initial lead and gave up 8 runs in 4 2/3 innings to the Fighters. The Marines lost 4 to 9. And on Apr. 27, the Marines lost 2 to 5. Still the next day, the Marines faced defeat, this time to the Lions 2 to 5. On Greenery Day, the Marines clinched its 4th win of the season ina 4 to 1 game. The Fighters' winning streak ended at 5 with its 2 to 4 defeat to the Hawks in a 11 inning game. However, the Fighters' won 7 to 5 the next day with contribution from Sherman Obando--a 3 run homer. The Lions lost, surprisingly to the Marines again. The results have given Fighters' the top post in the league. The Marines Hiroo Ishii smashed a 2 run homer, and Tomohiro Kuroki closed the game for a 8 to 1 win.

League standing as of Apr. 30
1. Nippon Ham Fighters
2. Seibu Lions
3. Orix Blue Wave
4. Fukuoka Daiei Hawks
5. Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes
6. Chiba Lotte Marines