ERAKimiyasu Kudo (Hawks) 2.38
Most games wonDaisuke Matsuzaka (Lions) 16
Most savesBrian Warren (Marine) 31 SP
Most strike outsKimiyasu Kudo (Hawks) 196
Highest batting averageIchiro Suzuki (Blue Wave) .343
Most base hitsKazuo Matsui (Lions) 178
HomerunTuffy Rhodes (Buffaloes) 40
RBITuffy Rhodes (Buffaloes) 101
Most on baseIchiro Suzuki (Blue Wave) .412
Stolen baseKazuo Matsui (Lions) 32

The standing for Pacific League's 1999 pennant was finalized.
1. Fukuoka Daiei Hawks
2. Seibu Lions
3. Orix Blue Wave
4. Chiba Lotte Marines
5. Nippon Ham Fighters
6. Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes

Daisuke Matsuzaka struck out 15 on Sept 2-- breaking his personal record. He hurled a distance too in a 2 to 1 win over the Fighters and a league leading 13th win. The victory has given the Lions a chance to take the pennant while the Hawks lost to the Marines 2 to 6. It's the Hawks 2nd straight loss in a game it was initially leading.

Matsuzaka pitched on Sept. 5--surprisingly, as a relief pitcher from the 8th inning. You see, the Buffaloes caught up with the Lions that inning and Lions' manager Osamu Higashio apparently was very eager to win this game. Finally in the 11th inning, the Lions' scored winning the game 9 to 8. And Matsuzaka picked up his 14th win.

The runner up Lions was matched up with the Hawks from Sept. 7. The Lions clinched the first game 4 to 1 and inched close to the leading team by 1.5 games. The next day, Matsuzaka was the starter. But he could not control the ball well. In the 2nd inning, his pitch knocked out Hawks' Koji Akiyama. Akiyama was later diagnosed to have broken his cheek bone. In the 7th, Matsuzaka suddenly couldn't pitch due to discomfort of his butt. In the 9th, the Hawks loaded the bases. Tadahito Iguchi blasted a grand slam to finish the game 7 to 3 for the Hawks. A close competition between the 2 top teams continue.

The Lions' Fumiya Nishiguchi ruined the game on Sept 14, by giving up 5 runs early in the game. And the team could neither score. Tomohiro Kuroki of the Marines won his 14th game this season in a 6 to 0 game he was relieved. Hawks' pitcher Kenichi Wakatabe won his 10th game in a 4 to 1 game over the Fighters to inch closer to 10 more wins for the pennant crown. Skipper Sadaharu Oh was beaming with a smile after the game.

The clock is ticking, getting closer to the day the Hawks will clinch the pennant win. On Sept. 17, by the 9th inning the Hawks were in the lead 4 to 1 over the Marines, but the Marines caught up in the 9th. However, the Hawks demonstrated its strength. In the bottom of that inning, with a runner on 2nd base, Tadahito Iguchi smashed a hit to welcome the runner home for the victory. It's the 10th "sayonara" win for the Hawks this season. The Hawks had another such finish on Sept. 19. In the bottom of the 12th inning with bases loaded, pinch hitter Koji Bonishi grounded the ball which rolled between 3rd and the shortstop to the outfield for his team's victory of 1 to 0.

The Hawks clinched a close game that went into 12 innings on Sept. 23 against the Blue Wave, 2 to 1. And the runner up the Lions lost to the Buffaloes 1 to 3. The Hawks only need to win 2 more games for the pennant victory.

The Lions played a very competitive game during the day of Sept. 25. In the end though, it lost it to the Blue Wave in the 9th inning 0 to 1. The Hawks needed only to win its game slated for that night to clinch the pennant victory. The Fighters were leading 3 to 2, until Hiroki Kokubo blasted a homer. And finally, it was Tadahito Iguchi who gave the Hawks the lead with a homerun. The Hawks not only secured the game 4 to 3, but had marked its first league victory since the team was formed 11 years ago in Fukuoka. And for Fukuoka--it's the first time in 36 years a local team's won. Skipper, and baseball great Sadaharu Oh was lifted high into the air 3 times by the players to celebrate the victory. Similar ceremonies were followed for Koji Akiyama and Kimiyasu Kudo both who joined the Hawks from the Lions several years ago. The players were all in tears of delight.

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

The Lions are doing well. Rookie Daisuke Matsuzaka gave up only a run during the 7 2/3 innings he pitched. And with his team defeating the Mraines 4 to 1, he clinched his 10th win. On Aug. 3, the Lions defeated the Buffaloes 5 to 4 with its pitcher Takashi Ishii clinching his 10th win. It's the Lions 5th win in a row.

On Aug. 6, Daisuke Matsuzaka lasted only 2 0/3 innings during which he lost 4 runs. His team, however, managed to win it 7 to 5 over the Blue Wave. And his turn to compensate for that performance came on Aug. 12. He came back as a super rookie. Although he did not complete 9 innings, he kept the Hawks from scoring. The Lions won 2 to 0 to the top team. Matsuzaka picked up his 11th win.

The Marines are in good shape. It beat the top team on Aug. 13, 4 to 2. earning the team its 5th win in a row. Ace pitcher Tomohiro Kuroki happily won. The team that's in the pits now is the Buffaloes. It marked its 7th defeat in a row in a 4 to 7 to the Blue Wave.

On Aug. 18, the Hawks marked its 3rd straight win defeating the Blue Wave in the 10th inning 2 to 1. On this day, Hawks' owner has announced intention of asking Sadaharu Oh to skipper the team again next year. Oh, however, refused to comment. The Hawks clinched the game again the next day with a 3 run homer in the 11th inning. And then on Aug. 20, the Hawks marked a record. In one inning the team blasted 2 grand slams to defeat the Fighters 13 to 0. Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched for the Lions against the Blue Wave. Even though he didn't pitch great, he earned his 12th win in the 8 to 5 game. By the way, Lions' slugger Ken Suzuki lost his father that day. He slammed a tearful 3 run homer.

The Hawks cannot be stopped as of Aug. 22. Kimiyasu Kudo shut out the Fighters in 7 innings. The team won 6 to 0 and he marked his 10th win. The Lions, however, is keeping close to the leading team marking its 3rd straight win by defeating the Bluew Wave 7 to 6.

Ichiro did not play on Aug. 25. The previous day, a pitch smashed into his right wrist. He had to leave the game thereafter, and neither could he make it for this day. His team lost 5 to 7 to the Fighters. The Lions winning streak was halted this day losing before Marines' ace Tomohiro Kuroki 4 to 5. Kuroki collected his 12th win. The Hawks remain strong defeating the Buffaloes 7 to 2.

Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched against the top team on Aug. 27. He, however, was in a turmoil from the start. He pitched at Koji Akiyama's back with bases loaded. Matsuzaka gave up 4 runs in only the first inning. He pitched though until the 7th inning. The Hawks' kept the lead and clinched the game 4 to 3. But the Lions were victorious in the next 2 games, coming closer to the Hawks.

The Hams hit like crazy on Aug. 29. All members in the line up had at least a base hit and finished the game 20 to 4 over the Buffaloes. It nearly broke its team record of 22 runs established half a century ago.

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

What's the matter with the Hawks. They lost again on July 3 for the 7th game in a row. The Blue Wave won 13 to 6. Ichiro slammed his 14th homerun. And his 15th, his overall 100th homer was blasted off Daisuke Matsuzaka on July 6. Troy Neel also homered. But those were the only runs the Blue Wave could score from Matsuzaka. The Lions defeated the Blue Wave 5 to 3.

At last, a dream day for the Marines. It defeated the Fighters 5 to 4, and the Hawks lost 0 to 9 to the Buffaloes on July 7. As a result, the Marines replace the Hawks for first place. It's the first time in 18 years they've become the league leader. However, the feat did not last long. It lost to the Fighters 4 to 1 the next day. And the Hawks gained back the top post.

The top 2 teams met eachother and played a competitive, at the same time unusual game on July 13. What happened was, during a base hit, Marines Brent Brede who was on 1st base ran towards 2nd, but decided to turn back. Meanwhile the batter went passed him to 2nd. It was a major mess up that destroyed a scoring opportunity. On the other hand, the Hawks was able to score a run during Koji Akiyama's base hit. Kimiyasu Kudo of the Hawks hurled a shut out game of 1 to 0. Another pitcher completed a scoreless game. It was super rookie Daisuke Matsuzaka. He did not control the ball well, but he managed to pitch fastballs until the end to clinch his 8th win in a 10 to 0 game.

The Marines are in the pits. Even the umpire's call was against them when it appeared Kenji Morozumi had made it in time to first base. He responded in fury to the call, and was expelled from the game. Skipper Koji Yamamoto (a former key pinch hitter with the Giants) followed him by spelling angry words at the umpire too and was also ordered out. The Marines succumbed to its 8th straight loss on July 17. Meanwhile the Hawks remain strong. On that day, it defeated the Lions in the 10th inning with Koichiro Yoshinaga's game clinching homerun.

Daisuke Matsuzaka is not just a great pitcher, he can attract luck. That's because on July 20 Marine Day, his team smashed a game winning run for a 3 to 2 victory over the Fighters. He clinched a league leading 9th win. The team that severely needs help is the Marines. It lost again in a 2 to 10 game against the Buffaloes.

Kenji Morizumi saved the Marines from further disaster batting in 2 runs on July 21. The team defeated the Buffaloes 4 to 3, and Tomohiro Kuroki clinched his 9th win tying for the lead with Seibu's Matsuzaka. On July 22, BlueWave superstar Ichiro ended an extended game against the Hawks with a homerun in the 11th inning. It's his 19th homerun. The game turned out to be 6 to 5.

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

For the first time in 8 years a pro baseball game took place in Matsumoto-city, Nagano Prefecture on June 1. It was between the Fighters and the Marines. The Marines won 12 to 4, and stretched its winning streak to 5. The streak ended on June 4 with a defeat to the Lions 3 to 5.

The Buffaloes were leading the Hawks by 7 runs on June 5, but the Hawks blasted in runs after another, turning the game around to 10 to 7. The Hawks defeated the Buffaloes the next day too 5 to 1. That day, the Seibu Dome was filled with 50,000 spectators to see, who else but Daisuke Matsuzaka. Marines'sluggers Kiyoshi Hatsushiba and Iwao Omura homered off him. Still, the Lions won 4 to 2, and Matsuzaka clinched his 6th win.

The Hawks' for the first time with Sadaharu Oh as a skippered recorded a winning streak of 7. That's on June 10 winning 5 to 3 over the Fighters. Oh said after the game that winning seems so natural for the team. Meanwhile the Blue Wave is getting itself together with its 5th win in a row.

The Hawks are still doing well as of June 13. Hiroki Kokubo helped the team win with his 13th homer. The Hawks shut out the Blue Wave 2 to 0. The Fighters on the other hand are in the pits. It lost to the Buffaloes 3 to 6, marking its 6th straight loss. As a result, the Fighters tied for last place with the Buffaloes.

The Lions' only big hope to surge in the league, Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched on June 15. Unlike the past games, he in the 2nd inning was in total turmoil. He hit a batter with his pitch for the first time, and on top of that lost 4 runs. He lasted only until the 6th inning and lost a total of 6 runs. It's the first time Daisuke Matsuzaka was knocked out of the game and took his 3rd loss. The opposing team, the Fighters won 7 to 3 and its losing streak was halted.

The Hawks at last lost after a 6 game winning streak. That's on June 20 against the Lions in a 3 to 6 game. But the Hawks proved to be in tact still on June 22. Ace pitcher Kimiyasu Kudo hurled a quasi no hitter game and collected a league leading 7th win in a 6 to 0 game against the Fighters.

Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched for the 2nd time against the Blue Wave on June 23, and that means he faced superstar Ichiro. Ichiro drove a sacrificed fly for the Blue Wave's first run. At his 2nd time at the plate, Ichiro singled off Matsuzaka for the first time. The Lions were behind the Blue Wave 2 to 3 by the end of the 8th. Matsuzaka left the mound after completing the 9th and looked on to see whether his teammates could do something. They did. They caught up with the Blue Wave. However, in the 11th inning, the Blue Wave clinched the game 4 to 3.

Nobody can stop the Hawks. On June 24, it recorded the highest score this year by winning 11 to 6 over the Fighters. The Hawks became the first team in both leagues to win its 40th game.

The Lions was joined by a new player from the US. He plays under the name Paul and has never played in the Major League level. The Lions'were able to win its 3rd straight game on June 27. The opponent was, surprise, surprise, the outrageous Hawks. The Lions won 5 to 1.

The Hawks on June 30 recorded its 5th straight loss. It was defeated the previous day by the Marines' ace pitcher Tomohiro Kuroki who collected a league leading 8th victory. And this day to long time ace Satoru Komiyama 3 to 4. There are only 2.5 games between the teams.

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

On May 3, Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched at the Osaka Dome against the Buffaloes. The stadium was no doubt, fully packed. But Matsuzaka was not the mighty teenage guy this time. He was homered by Norihiro Nakamura, lost a total of 4 runs by the 4th inning, the worst ever for him so far. On top of that, he strained his middle finger and could not continue to pitch. But his team in the end won the game in 10 innings 5 to 4. Matsuzaka, the following day was taken off the major league team. Despite the accident to the super rookie, the team plays well, Ace pitcher Fumiya Nishiguchi clinched a league leading 5th victory in a 4 to 1 game over the Buffaloes on May 5. That win gave the Lions' its 4th straight win. For the Buffaloes, it's the other way around.

The Marines lost its 4th straight game to the Blue Wave on May 7. The Hawks defeated the Lions on May 9, 2 to 1. Its win and the Fighters' loss placed the Hawks on the top of the league.

5-time leading hitter Ichiro was in an unbelievable slump...well...at least for him. His worst record before was 16 times at bat in a row without a base hit. On May 13, he ended the streak at 18. However, the Blue Wave lost to the Buffaloes 2 to 8. The Blue Wave lost the following day to the Lions 5 to 10. Lions' batting power surged with a new member. Alan Zinter grand slammed and hit a base hit--in all contributing to 5 runs. On May 15, the Fighters defeated the Marines 4 to 3 for its 3rd straight win.

A dream match was realized on May 16. Lions' Daisuke Matsuzaka faced Blue Wave's Ichiro. Matsuzaka struck out Ichiro 3 times at bat and walked him once. He hurled until the 8th inning and clinched his 3rd win in the 2 to 0 game.

Alan Zinter contributed to the team again, and celebrated Lions' skipper Osamu Higashio's 49th birthday by driving in all runner on base in the 7th inning on May 18 against the Fighters. The game was reversed to 9 to 5. On May 20, Hawks' skipper Sadaharu Oh was given his birthday treat. His team clinched a 4 to 3 win over the Fighters to keep the lead in the league. Pedraza successfully relieved the game. On that day, the news for the Lions was that they got a new PR person. Now he's not just anyone. He's former speed skating star Akira Kuroiwa. He was working for Kokudo, an affiliate of Seibu and was asked by owner Yoshiaki Tsutsumi who was once ranked the richest man in the world to take the post. He will serve as a PR man exclusive to Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Hawks' slugger Hiroki Kokubo is back in shape. He not only slammed his 10th homer on May 21, he smashed a sacrifice fly in the 9th during which a runner came home. That ended the game giving the Hawks a 5 to 4 win over the Blue Wave.

There were 35,000 at the Chiba Marine Stadium on May 23. It's because Daisuke Matsuzaka was pitching. So far, the Lions line-up failed to score in a number of RBIs when Matsuzaka pitched. But it wasn't so bad this time. Alan Zinter smashed a 3 run homer in the 1st inning. The Marines were unable to score from Matsuzaka until the final inning. Saburo Omuro and Kiyoshi Hatsushiba homered off him consecutively. Matsuzaka stepped down from the mound after that. He was able to earn his 4th win afterall with the Lions winning 4 to 2.

On May 23, Fighters' veteran skipper Toshiharu Ueda slapped the umpire and was expelled from the next 2 games for that. It's the first time ever he's taken out like this in his 20-year skippering career. He accused the umpire for a judging wrongly a close play in the 1st inning. The Fighters won anyway 4 to 2 over the Buffaloes. However, in the first game without Ueda on May 26, it lost to the Lions 1 to 2.

Daisuke Matsuzaka had a hard time pitching on May 30. He hurled over a distance, but unlike in other games, he was only able to strike out two. He picked up another win--his 5th already in a 3 to 2 game over the Hawks.

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

The season opened on Apr. 3. League champion started the season in their newly domed stadium matched up with the Hawks. A null game was ended abruptly by careless field work by the Hawks. They could've killed the batter coming into 1st base but was so slow that during the action, Lions scored a game winning run. The following day, the Hawks won 3 to 0. At Tokyo Dome, the Fighters blanked the Buffaloes 9 to 0 but lost the next day. Blue Wave's defeated the Marines 2 games in a row.

Super rookie Daisuke Matsuzaka was the news of the day on Apr.7. Freshly out of high school, the rookie started against the Fighters. From the beginning, he showed that he was not just any player. He struck out the first batter. He even hurled a speed ball of 155 km. Until the 5th inning, the Fighters could not even get a base hit out of him. Then in the 8th inning, Ogasawara blasted a 2 run homer from Matsuzaka. Matsuzaka left the game after finishing that inning. The teenager earned his very first victory in pro baseball in the 5 to 2 game. The Marines hit in a whooping 22 runs to the Hawks.

Matsuzaka pitched his 2nd game on Apr.14. It's his first at Seibu Dome. He went over a distance, and lost only 2 runs to the Buffaloes, but his team failed to support him, so Matsuzaka took the loss. The Fighters marked its 3rd straight win in a whooping 16 to 6 game against the Hawks. Whereas the Marines lost its 3rd game in a row.

Ichiro of the Orix Blue Wave smashed 2 homeruns on Apr. 17. However, his team lost to the Hawks in a close game of 6 to 7. The defeat dropped the Blue Wave to last place in the league. Ichiro recorded his 1000th lifetime hit on Apr. 20. He did it with a 2 run homer in the 9th inning against the Fighters. He's required the shortest time to achieve this by surpassing his former teammate, American Boomer Wells record of 781 games. It was in 756 games for Ichiro. Although he was presented with a bouquet of flowers as he ran into home, his team lost 2 to 10. Former star pitcher Kimiyasu Kudo shut out the Buffaloes and gave the Hawks its 3rd straight win in a 3 to 0 game. The Buffaloes and the Fighters have tied for 1st place as a result.

Chiba Marine Stadium had a fullhouse on Apr. 21--a crowd of 35,000. That's because of earlier report that Lions' superrookie Daisuke Matsuzaka will start. It's the first time since October 1988 the Marines attracted so many people. It was a great day for the Marines because they were able to win -- 2 to 0. The Marines won the next day with Frank Bolick's game winning homerun to finish the game 2 to 1. Marines'ace, Satoru Komiyama clinched his first win of the season. The team that's doing horribly is the Blue Wave. They changed their lineup with Ichiro the 4th to bat. But it did not work. It lost to the Fighters 5 to 10 for its 7th straight loss. The Fighters have surged to first place.

On Apr.27, Daisuke Matsuzaka proved that he's more than a super rookie. He became the 1st rookie in 33 years to hurl over the distance a shut out game. He did it in front of a roaring crowd of 34,000 at the Seibu Dome. On top of that feat, he struck out 10. Tomohiro Kuroki, who started for the Marines also pitched a full 9 innings. It was the 2nd time the 2 pitchers competed against eachother. The previous time, it was Kuroki who won a shut out victory. Matsuzaka's fastest pitch reached 153 km. He hurled 146 pitches in a 1 to 0 game.
Michiyo's Note: 4 of Japan's major networks broadcast the game live during their primetime news. It's an unheard of treatment outside of the Japan Series.
But the Marines took revenge the next day by turning the game over in the 9th inning. The 3 to 2 win gave Satoru Komiyama his 2nd happy win. On Apr. 29, Fumiya Nishiguchi of the Lions' clinched a league leading 4th win from the Marines. The Seibu Lions' first skipper Rikuo Nemoto died from heart failure on Apr.29. He was 72. He assumed the post of Daiei Hawks' team representative this year. As if fixed, the teams faced eachother the following day. Both teams paid respect to the death of a great leader before the start of the game. The outcome of the game was-- Hawks won 10 to 1. It included the season's 5th homer by both Hiroki Kokubo and Koichiro Yoshinaga.

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