League champion: SEIBU LIONS

ERAHideo Kanemura (Fighters) 2.73
Most games wonFumiya Nishiguchi (Lions)
Tomohiro Kuroki (Marines)
Kazuhiro Takeda (Hawks)
Most savesAkinori Ohtsuka (Buffaloes) 38 SP
Most strike outsFumiya Nishiguchi (Lions) 192
Highest averageIchiro Suzuki (Blue Wave) .358
Most base hitsIchiro Suzuki (Blue Wave) 181
HomerunNigel Wilson (Fighters) 33
RBINigel Wilson (Fighters) 124
Most on baseAtsushi Kataoka (Fighters) .435
Stolen baseKazuo Matsui (Lions)
Makoto Kosaka (Marines)

The Lions and the Fighters had to play a double header on Oct. 2 to make up for the days which were rained out. The Lions clinched both games and their magic number, which was 9 went all the way down to 5. In the game on Oct. 3, the Lions played 12 innings with the Fighters, and it ended a draw of 1 to 1. Still, the magic number diminished to 4. The Blue Wave, that day surged to 3rd place. The league's leading hitter Ichiro took part in a game for the first time in 10 games and got to 1st base as a pinch hitter. Then Harry Pulliam slammed a 3 run homer. He homered a solo earlier too and lifted the team to a 6 to 4 victory over the Buffaloes.

On Oct. 4, the Lions shut out the Hawks 5 to 0. The runs include a back to back homerun by Ken Suzuki and Domingo Martinez in the 8th inning. The Lions' magic number is 3. The Hawks ended the season with its 5th straight loss.

The Lions beat the Buffaloes 7 to 3 on Oct. 6--drawing itself closer to the title of league champion. The magic number went down to 2. Veteran catcher Tsutomu Ito contributed with a homerun that gave the Lions its initial lead.

Both the Lions and runner up the Fighters had to play doubleheaders on Oct. 7. The Fighters lost to the Marines in the first game. At this point, the Lions were still playing its first game against the Buffaloes. A victory would have automatically given the Lions the league title. But it was defeated 5 to 6. The Fighters finished its final game of the season by losing again. The Lions, in its 2nd game of the day ended up winning 5 to 2-- earning the Pacific League title for the 2nd year in a row. Its the Lions' 13th overall league title. The players celebrated the victory by throwing manager Osamu Higashio up in the air several times despite the rain.
Michiyo's Note: Whether or not you are a Lions' fan, you can still look forward to bargains at Seibu department stores and affliated retailers-- held for 5 days in celebration of the team's pennant victory. Of course, I didn't miss the occassion!

On Oct. 9, the Lions defeat the Blue Wave in both doubleheaders. In the first game, Domingo Martinez homered his 30th of the season. The Blue Wave finished the season tying with the Hawks for third place.

The game that wrapped up the 1998 Pacific League pennant race was played between the Lions and the Marines. The Marines clinched the game 5 to 4. The good news for the Lions was that Kazuo Matsui successfully stole a base--his 43rd, to tie for the title with Marines' Makoto Kosaka.

One of Japan's best baseball player ever, 3-time triple crown king Hitomitsu Ochiai announced his retirement before the press on Oct. 14. Ochiai, at 44, was this season's eldest active player. However, he was given a chance to play in only 65 games this year. He played a solid 20 years in pro baseball after getting drafted from corporate team Toshiba Fuchu. He played with the Lotte Orions--currently te Marines, the Chunichi Dragons, Tokyo Yomiuri Giants, and finally the Nippon Ham Fighters.

The overall league attendance this season came out to 8,660,500. That's 1,352,000 less than last year.

Here's the final team standing for the Pacific League
1. Seibu Lions
2. Nippon Ham Fighters
3. Orix Blue Wave
3. Fukuoka Daiei Hawks
5. Kintetsu Buffaloes
6. Chiba Lotte Marines

The Hawks improved its standing, tying 3rd with the Buffaloes on Sept. 1 by defeating the opposing team 7 to 1. Pitcher Tatsuji Nishimura completed the game and marked his 10th win of the season. The Lions is closing in with the leader by 2.5 games. It beat the Fighters 9 to 4 the same day. The Fighters failed to win in 4 straight games. The next day, the Lions won again while the Fighters lost 2 to 0. As of Sept. 2, there are only 3 games between the top 4 teams.

It's been 11 years since the Lions' Hisanori Yokota achieved a shut out game. He marked one at last, on Sept 6 over the Hawks in a 6 to 0 game. It's his 5th win of the season. For the Fighters, the 7 to 5 victory over the Blue Wave that day was a result of hard work by the Americans. They're starting pitcher Kip Gross, relief pitcher Erik Schullstrom, and Nigel Wilson's league co-leading 27th homerun.

The Buffaloes' Rob Mattson successfully pitched a 3 hitter no run game and his team won 7 to 0 over the Fighters on Sept. 9. As a result, the Buffaloes are only 1 game behind the leader. The next day, the Buffaloes took the day off, and meanwhile the Lions fell to 3rd place with its loss against the Blue Wave. Troy Neel's homerun and Ichiro's RBI gave the team a 2 to 0 victory. Pitcher Hiroshi Kobayashi hurled over the distance.

The standings of the Lions and Buffaloes were already reversed on Sept. 11. The Lions' Kazuo Matsui stole base 3 times--the most in one game for him this season. They contributed to the Lions victory over the leading team. For the Fighters, it's their 3rd game lost in a row. The Buffaloes that day lost 4 to 5 to the Hawks.

The Fighters clinched a shut out victory against the Lions on Sept. 12. Hideo Kanemura hurled over the distance and improved his ERA to 2.43--giving him the first spot in the league. Nigel Wilson contributed with 2 homers to the 9 to 0 game. He leads the league with 29 homeruns.

The magic number 21 shown on the Lions the following day by winning over the Fighter 2 to 1 even though the Fighters still led by 0.5 game. The Lions magic number was diminished to 20 on Sept. 15 despite its 3 to 4 loss to the Hawks. That's because the Lions have 23 games to go while the Fighters have only 15. On Sept. 16, with another defeat, the Lions magic number disappeared. The Hawks beat the Lions again to follow the Fighters very closely in the league standing. The team in fact marked its 5th straight win with 2 homeruns by Tadahito Iguchi.

The Hawks' winning streak was reversed to a losing streak with 2 defeats in a row from Sept. 17. The first one was to the Lions, and the second to the top team. As a result, the Hawks were demoted to 3rd place, while lifting the Lions to 2nd.

On Sept. 19, the Lions took over 1st place while the Fighters, for the first time in 3 months, gave up the top post. However the next day, the Lions lost while the Fighters won, so the 2 teams altered positions already.

The Fighters have lost 2 straight games to the Buffaloes--that's on Sept. 21 and 22. Still it was able to keep 1st place--just barely ahead of the Lions, the Hawks and the Buffaloes. After finishing games on Sept. 23, the 1st to the 4th ranking teams are bunched up within one game. The Hawks, by the way, played the season's last Fukuoka Dome game. The number of audience its homeground attracted during the season was added up to 2.163 million. That's the lowest season turnout since the Fukuoka Dome opened 6 years ago.

The Fighters, as of Sept. 25 has had lost 3 straight games, endangering its chance for the pennant win. The Lions on the other hand, took over 1st place on Sept.24. Then the next day, the Lions had for the first time gave Rudy Pemberton--formerly a Detroit Tiger, the clean-up post. He responded terrifically to the team's expectation by batting in 5 runs for the teams 7 to 2 win over the Buffaloes. The Lions magic number is down to 11.

The Hawks' possibility to win the league championship is gone after losing its 3rd straight games to the Blue Wave on Sept. 27. The Hawks at this point have only 2 games left.

The countdown for the Lions to the pennant victory was decreased to 9 games on Sept. 28 with its game clinching victory in the 9th inning over the Buffaloes 4 to 3. However, the next day, the Lions lost to the BlueWave 2 to 4, and the magic number remained at 9. No games were played on Sept. 30

Here's the team standing as of Sept. 30.
1. Seibu Lions
2. Nippon Ham Fighters
3. Kintetsu Buffaloes
4. Fukuoka Daiei Hawks
5. Orix Blue Wave
6. Chiba Lotte Marines

Although the Fighter's Jerry Brooks slammed the league's most number of homeruns so far on Aug. 1, the Fighters lost this game 2 to 3 to the Marines marking its 4th straight loss. Jerry Brooks homered his 24th the next day, and this time, contributed to the Fighters' victory in a 8 to 4 game.

Another foreign player with the Fighters exploded with homeruns on Aug. 6. He's Nigel Wilson. Wilson homered 3 times and caught up with the homerun leader, teammate Jerry Brooks. The Fighters defeated the Hawks 11-0. Japan's superman, Ichiro of the Blue Wave was named MVP of July that day. It's his 7th time to be awarded monthly MVP. That's more than any other player. Ichiro has improved his batting average further on Aug. 9. It reached .394. He homered too in the game against the Hawks which the Blue Wave won 10 to 8. Then on Aug. 12, Ichiro's batting average reached .396, driving 3 hits during 3 times at bat. His team is doing well against the Fighters in 3 games with one a tie as of Aug. 13.

The Fighters have not been so hot this month. On Aug. 15, it marked its 4th straight loss in a 2 to 8 game against the Hawks. In this game, Hawks' Luis Lopez attacked Fighters' Hiroshi Shibakusa for hurling the ball near his back. Lopez was suspended from the game. The next day the Fighters lost again. It's the first time this season that the Fighters lost 5 games in a row. 11 were struck out by Brian Williams of the Hawks in a 0 to 2 game. The nightmare still continued for the top ranking team. On Aug. 18, it was the Marines who blanked out the Fighters 5 to 0.

The Fighters drew more than 45,000 to the Tokyo Dome on Oct. 22 which is a substantial crowd for the team-- in fact, for any Pacific League team. It succumbed though to its 8th straight loss in a 3 to 5 game against the Buffaloes. The Fighter were defeated again the next day by the Buffaloes and the result has brought the leader very close to the runner up with only 0.5 game between them. The Buffaloes are in great shape having marked that day its 7th consecutive win in the 3 to 2 game.

On Aug. 24, the Fighters at last won after 9 straight losing games. This was in a 1 to 0 game against the Lotte Marines. The Buffaloes on the other hand had a bad game against the Lions. It was 6 to 12. So both team ended their streaks. For the Hams, things got back in shape thereafter. The bad mood was turned around with its 3 straight wins over the Marines.

The Buffaloes, on Aug. 30 marked its 6th consecutive defeat. They were actually leading the game against the Blue Wave 5 to 3 until the top of the 9th inning that day. The Blue Wave captured the game with Koichi Oshima's game winning 3 run homerun in the bottom of that inning. One incident preoccupied fans during the game. Ichiro was hit by a ball above his right shoulder. He was dismissed from the game, but to everyone's relief, it was later found out that the injury was not serious. The Fighter succumbed to 3 defeats in a row against the Hawks in the 3 game series from Aug. 28. Meanwhile, the games between the Lions and Marines during the same period were all rained out.

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

The Marines started the month of July without 3 of its regular starting members. Julio Franco has not been hitting well either. On July 1, it marked its 13th straight defeat with only one game in between that ended in a draw. The Marines lost to the Lions 4 to 7. The situation got no better thereafter. On July 4, Marines tied with the league's worst consecutive loss record of 15. That's in a 7 to 10 game against the Hawks' which went 11 innings. Before the match, the team had a Shinto priest purifying the players of evil spirits, but in vane.

The Buffaloes, in comparison to the Marines, may not appear to be doing so bad, still the team marked its 5th straight defeat on July 4. Meanwhile, the Lions stopped the Fighters' winning streak at 5 that day. This was in one of the American Ball Park series where the announcements are bilingual, performances similar to the U.S., and free tickets are given away at the gate to those wearing Major League caps or T-shirts. The Lions, however, handled the ball out in the field terribly which cost them a loss on July 5, plus losing a notch in the league standing to 3rd place. The Buffaloes replaced the Lions by winning 16 to 3 over the Blue Wave.

The Marines tied with the Japan record of 16 losses in a row on July 5 while the Hawks who beat them 10 to 3 marked their 5th straight win that day. Well, on July 7, both teams extended their records. It's good news for the Hawks, but not at all for the Marines. The majority of Marines fan, in fact, thought that at last the team was going to win when the game had only the bottom of the 9th inning left with the score 3 to 1 against the Blue Wave. But the Blue Wave caught up, and in the 12th inning, pinch hitter for the Blue Wave, Yasutaka Hironaga, blasted a grand slam to take the game. Therefore, the Marines broke the Japan record for the most consecutive loss with its 17th. They lost another for the team's 18th. On July 9, the pressure was on the Marines' ace pitcher Satoru Komiyama to stop the losing streak. He, with critical moments in between, hurled over the distance and at last, the Marines ceased to further extend the Japan record. This was in a 9 to 6 game with the Blue Wave.
Michiyo's Note: Whew!

The Hawks played 4 straight games until July 8 where they batted in more than 10 runs each. Kenji Johjima of the Hawks swung his 4th straight homerun the next day, but the game was stopped in the 8th inning because of the rain, and the Hawks consecutive win halted at 7, and so has its record of double digit games finished at 4, because they scored only 1 run this day.

The Marines, after a long disaterous period is doing wonders. The team had on July 10 and 11 "sayonara" victories over the league leader--thus 3 wins in a row. But that was that. On July 12, the Marines lost to the Fighters 2 to 4.

The Lions defeated the Buffaloes in 2 straight games, and surged to 2nd place on July 15. Lions' Kazuo Matsui hit well in both games.

The Blue Wave won a game at the Tokyo Dome for the first time this season on July 16. It was naturally against the Fighters. Extra innings were played in this game, and in the 12th inning, 20 year old Takeshi Hidaka homered a game winning run. It ended 7 to 5.

The Fighters' Tsutomu Iwamoto went a distance and marked a league leading 10th win of the season on July 19. The Fighters beat the Buffloes 9 to 3. The Buffaloes, on the other hand lost its 5th game in a row and have gone down in the team standing. It lost another game the next day to the Fighters 6 to 10. The Marines, attempted to make an appeal with their new summer uniform on July 20 but failed losing 1 to 4 to the Lions.

The league resumed games on July 25 after an all star break. Ichiro of the Blue Wave had 2 hits including a homerun, and improved his batting average to .388. The team defeated the Marines 6 to 1. The league leader, the Fighters played their first game after the break on July 26. The Fighters 5 to 4 victory over the Lions marked its 4th straight win and furthered its lead to the runner up to 9 games. The Fighter won again the next day 3 to 2, and the Lions went down to 3rd place while the Buffaloes came up with its victory over the Hawks 4 to 3.

On July 28, the league's pitching leader,Tsutomu Iwamoto gave up 6 runs and was knocked out, but the Fighters reversed the game. However, Ichiro's 2 run homer gave the Blue Wave a 10 to 7 victory. The Fighters' winning streak ended at 5. The Blue Wave won its 3rd straight game for the first time this season on July 30. The team clinched the win in the final inning when Chris Donnels drove in a run for a 7 to 6 finish. The Hawks'losing streak ended that day at 5 in a 3 to 2 victory over the Marines.

Ichiro of the Blue Wave is incredible. He hit 5-5, and lifted his batting average to .393 on July 31. Blue Wave beat the Buffaloes 7 to 3.

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

Many games since entering June have been rained out. As of June 6, the Hawks and the Fighters are tied for first place. However, the Hawks lost to the Buffaloes 0 to 1 the next day while the Fighters won 6 to 1 over the Marines. The Fighters, therefore became the sole leader.

The Hawks' Hiroki Kokubo who returned to the baseball scene on May 30 after being indicted for evading tax, blasted his first homerun on June 9. The former RBI and homerun title winner is as of this date, the top favorite among the 3rd basemen in the All Star votes. The Hawks beat the Lions 9 to 3. 4-time leading hitter, Ichiro of the Blue Wave took the lead in batting average that day. However, his team lost 4 to 13 to the top standing team, the Fighters.

It's the 3rd time the Blue Wave has a losing streak of 6. This was marked on June 12 in a 1 to 2 game against the Marines. In that game, pitcher Tomohiro Kuroki earned a league leading 6th win.

Koji Akiyama of the Hawks blasted his 400th career homerun on June 16. He's only the 12th pro baseball player to achieve that many. Akiyama has been playing pro for 18 years. His feat was celebrated with the Hawks win over the Blue Wave.

The Lions defeated the Fighters 2 games in a row on June 17. It was a happy win for the Lions because last year's top winning pitcher Fumiya Nishiguchi at last won. It's only his second this season, and it's been a year and a half since he has had a shut out victory.

The Buffaloes'Yuji Yoshioka who was traded from the Tokyo Giants last year brought a competitive game to an end with a game winning 2 run homer, beating the Marines 7 to 5 on June 18. With this victory, which is the Buffaloes 7th in a row, the team emerged to the top of the league. However, the Buffaloes lost the post the next day when it didn't have a game while the Fighters beat the Marines. The Marines, meanwhile faced its 6th straight lost in the game on June 20 against the Fighters. The Marines lost was extended the next day when Yukio Tanaka smashed a game winning homerun which was a league leading number 16.

The Fighters, as of June 24 clinched its 5th straight victory with Yukio Tanaka's homerun number 17. On the other hand, the Marines are doing terribly with a whooping losing streak of 9. The Blue Wave caught up with the Marines that day.

The Blue Wave was the one to halt the Fighters from furthering its winning streak, ending it at 7 on June 27. The Marines continued having nightmares with the team's 11th straight loss on the same day. It was in a 1 to 3 game against the Buffloes. The result has dropped them to last place in the league. Fans showed anger toward the Marines the next day, during a game they lost for the 12th straight time. Someone is believed to have fired crackers in the stands. Also, the Hawks aren't doing too well either. The Fukuoka team marked its 7th lost in a row the same day in a 0 to 6 game with the Lions, but came out of the losing streak on June 30 in the game against the Blue Wave, fortunately due to Luis Lopez's sacrifice fly in the 7th inning.

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

It may be a sign that the Lions are finally starting to pick things up. Last year's league champ marked its 3rd straight win on May 2 in a "sayonara" win against the Marines. Then won a whooping 9 to 2 game the next day. For the first time in 18 years, the top 5 teams of the league had more wins than losses. The Blue Wave is the only team doing terribly. As of May 4, it has only 5 wins this season.

The Hawks are performing topnotch. On May 6, Luis Lopez homered for the first time this season to assist in the 10 to 1 victory. The following day, the Hawks won again for their 7th straight win. It's the first time in 21 years that the team marked such a long winning streak. Meanwhile, the Blue Wave stretched its losing streak to 8 on May 6 defeated by the Lions, especially by pitcher Hisanori Yokota who went over the distance for the first time in 11 years. On May 7, the Blue Wave finally won its 6th game of the season.

Troy Neel played his first comeback game with the Blue Wave on May 8. He played for the Blue Wave the previous 3 years until he was released from the team last year. In his first attempt at bat, he smashed a homerun. Ichiro grand slammed later on. The Blue Wave won a 7-1 game over the Buffaloes. The Hawks, that day, ended it's winning streak by losing to the Lions 0 to 4.

The Fighters on May 9 took over the first place defeating the Marines 4 to 3, and won again 8 to 5 the following day. Jerry Brooks is given the credit for batting in the winning runs in both games.

On May 12, the Hawks beat the Fighters 8 to 2. That got the team back on the top of the league. The game that produced many runs was the one between the Lions and the Buffaloes. The Lions were ahead in the top of the 3rd inning 6 to 1, but in the bottom of that inning, the Buffaloes batted in 8 runs. Both teams added more runs to their scores thereafter, and the 10-inning game was finished by Phil Clark with his "sayonara" hit for the Buffaloes.

Since the faltering Blue Wave has so far failed to attract a reasonable crowd, the team decided on starting a novel project. That is, the ticket to the game at the Kobe Green Stadium will remain valid until the Blue Wave wins. The idea went to effect on May 15. Troy Neel slugged a 3 run homer in the 1st inning. That game the Blue Wave a great start. Neel though was not in a state to play. He was nauseous and had diarrhea so severe that the team decided to dismiss him from the starting line-up, but could not when it was learned that such change is not permitted after the line-up has been submitted to the umpire. The Blue Wave luckily defeated the Hawks 13 to 2.
Michiyo's Note: I wonder if Blue Wave fans were happy with the team's victory, or felt they've lost a chance to go to another game free of charge.

Since May 15, the Fighters are really winning. On May 16, 3 time triple crown king Hiromitsu Ochiai blasted his 2351st hit-- tying him for 9th place in the history of Japanese baseball. The team defeated the Lions with a game winning 2 run homer on May 20, and repeated the drama the next day with another game winning homerun, this time, in the 10th inning. The Fighters' winning streak reached 6 on May 21, and put them ahead of the 2nd ranking Hawks by 2.5 games. The Fighters' won a total 7 games in a row. The streak ended on May 24 in a 6 to 7 game against the Blue Wave. For the Blue Wave, it was the first time this season that it beat the Fighters. That day was the start of 4 straight losses for the Fighters.

Koichi Hori of the Marines achieved a record on May 26 that only 3 have before him. As 8th in the line up, he homered from the Lions' Terry Bross. What this means is that Hori has had homeruns as the 1st to the final batter in the line-up. The Marines beat the Lions in this game. The Lions consecutive wins stopped at 3.

Hiroki Kokubo who was suspended from games from the beginning of this season due to a tax evasion scandal finished serving his term and played his first game on May 30. Even though this game was held at the Tokyo Dome, not his home ground the Fukuoka Dome, a crowd of 36,000 welcomed him with a big hand and cheers. Kokubo started his comeback game 4th at bat. He singled twice. The Hawks losing streak stopped at 3 with a 4 to 2 victory over the Fighters. The team tied with the Fighters' for 1st place the following day winning 7 to 6.

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

The Pacific League opened one day after the Central League on Apr.4. At the half finished Seibu Dome, the ceremonious pitch was made by Nagano Olympic ski jumping gold medalist Kazuyoshi Funaki. Lions' starting pitcher was last year's best pitcher Fumiya Nishiguchi. He lost hits after another from the first inning. 3 time triple crown winner Hiromitsu Ochiai had in all, 3 base hits and contributed to the Fighters victory over the Lions 5 to 0. It is the 4th straight time that the Lions were defeated in the opening game. It was a shut out victory for the Fighters' Tsutomu Iwamoto. The Hawks started its season without its slugger Hiroki Kokubo. Kokubo is suspended from games for 3 weeks--one of the penalties from evading tax. Still, the team was able to win 2 to 1. The Marines played a close game with the Buffaloes at the Osaka Dome. In the 10th inning, the Buffaloes succeeded in batting in a game ending run.

The Lions' popular Domingo Martinez homered for the team on Apr. 5 to defeat the Fighters 5 to 4. The Buffaloes won another close game over the Marines. Tuffy Rhodes contributed with a solo to win 2 to 1. The Buffaloes defeated the Blue Wave the next day 4 to 1. The Hawks is doing well with 3 straight victories too. The team is headed by the famous Sadaharu Oh. It won 2 straight games from the Blue Wave. Then overpowered the Lions, 6 to 3. However, on Apr. 8, the Hawks were reversed in a 3 to 4 defeat by the Lions. All Pacific League games were rained out on Apr.9.

Superstar Ichiro homered his first this season on Apr. 10. That didn't help the Blue Wave boost its spirit though. The Blue Wave lost to a 3 to 4 to the Fighters on Apr. 12. The team has not won even one game since the start of the season. Meanwhile, the team in good shape is surprisingly, the Marines. Team captain Julio Franco is keeping up his teammates spirit. Marines ace pitcher Satoru Komiyama hurled over the distance 0 to 7 against the Lions on Apr. 10, and the Marines captured the next 2 games from last year's PL champion as well.

The Blue Wave at last clinched its first victory of the season on Apr. 15. It was in the 7th game. The win was indeed a dramatic one. Koichi Ohshima blasted a sacrifice drive in the bottom of the 10th inning to end the game happily for his team 5 to 4. The loser, Marines winning streak halted at 4. Meanwhile, the Hawks clinched its 4th straight victory that day with a 7 to 1 against the Fighters. The credit went to pitcher Tatsuji Nishimura who was fired by the Buffaloes last year.

The Lions losing streak came to a halt at last on Apr. 19 dramatically. Clean up batter, Ken Suzuki wipped the ball to the left field in the bottom of the 9th inning. A runner came home, ending the game 3 to 2. The Hawks which played against the Lions, on the other hand, lost its first game after 5 straight victories.

Marines pitcher Satoru Komiyama won on Apr. 22, a shut out game of 4 to 0 to the Hawks. It gave Komiyama his 3rd victory of the season already, and for the Marines, the result of this game lifted them up to first place in the league while the Hawks fell to second tying with the Buffaloes. Last year's best pitcher Fumiya Nishiguchi of the Lions clinched his first win of the season. He hurled 7 innings in a 7 to 0 game with the Blue Wave.

The Hawks had lost its 5th consecutive game on Apr. 25. The opposing team was the Blue Wave which seems to be picking itself up by winning 4 to 1. By the way, the Blue Wave officially announced that day, their decision to reacquire Troy Neel who was released last season after 3 years with the team. The Blue Wave won another game to the Hawks 12 to 8 in a see-saw game the next day. It included a grand slam by 35-year old Yasuo Fujii. Fujii broke the Pacific League record with his career total of 9 grand slams. Meanwhile, the Buffaloes retured to first place on Apr. 26, after defeating the Marines 3 to 2, and the Marines went down a notch.

The Buffaloes beat the Lions in the 11th inning 4 to 3 on Apr. 28 and kept first place. The Hawks continue to extend it's losing streak to a whooping 8 games. Finally on Apr. 29, the Hawks won. It was in a 4 to 3 game against the Fighters. Meanwhile, the Marines surged to 1st place again on Apr. 29 thanks to ace pitcher Satoru Komiyama who went over the distance for his 4th win this season in a 3 to 1 game against the Blue Wave. Due to the successful 1st month, 1800 people have applied for membership in the Marines fan club just during 3 days from Apr. 28.

Team standing in the end of April.
1. Chiba Lotte Marines
2. Kintetsu Buffaloes
3. Nippon Ham Fighters
4. Fukuoka Daiei Hawks
4. Seibu Lions
6. Orix Blue Wave