Carp and Hawks Clinch First in NPB

The Hiroshima Carp have clinched first place in the Central Division and the Softbank Hawks have clinched first place in the Pacific Division. In the NPB clinching first place has significant advantages when the playoffs start. First you get a bye while the second and third place teams battle it out. Second, all the games are played at your park until you get to the Japan Series. Last, you get a 1-0 lead in the series against the winner of the second and third place match.

For the Carp this is the first time in franchise history they have won a division two consecutive years. For the Hawks, they have been one of the more consistent teams in the NPB, but this division win was their first since 2015. It is their 18th division win in franchise history. Dennis Sarfate became the first pitcher in NPB history to save 50 games in a season to lead the Hawks.

In the Central Division the Hanshin Tigers have a comfortable 4.5 game lead for the first wild card spot. The Yomiuri Giants and Yokohama Bay Stars are in a virtual tie for the second wild card spot. Both teams have the same number of wins and losses, but the Bay Stars have played one more game than the Giants resulting in one more tie game (4 to 3).

The Pacific Division seems pretty well set with the Seibu Lions getting the second wild card spot and the Rakuten Golden Eagles capturing the third. The Golden Eagles seem to have recovered from their collapse, when they once had first place in their grasp and are no longer a threat to lose a playoff spot. The Orix Buffaloes seemed to be charging hard to take advantage of that collapse, but at 12 games behind with just about 20 games to play their chances of catching the Eagles are slim.

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