Baseball: Hawks aim for 5th straight Japan title as season kicks off

The SoftBank Hawks’ bid for a fifth straight Japan Series championship begins in earnest on Friday when Nippon Professional Baseball’s two leagues kick off their regular seasons in six games across the country. The Hawks, the defending Pacific League champs, have won six of Japan’s last seven championships, but this year may not have the PL’s most potent starting pitching. On paper, the Rakuten Eagles appear to have Japan’s best pitching rotation with the return of former ace Masahiro Tanaka and the addition of rookie lefty Takahisa Hayakawa. In the Central League, the Yomiuri Giants are on th…

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