FUKUOKA, Japan: The Japanese baseball season started late and the schedule was cut back, but the end result the same as usual.
The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks won their fourth straight Japan Series title on Wednesday, sweeping Tokyos Yomiuri Giants in four games in the best-of-seven series.
The Hawks won the clinching game 4-1 in the southwestern city of Fukuoka after taking the first three by the mostly one-sided scores of 13-2, 5-1 and 4-0.
The Hawks won last season the same way, taking four straight from the Giants in the season-ending series.
The Hawks have become a dynasty in Japan. They have now won the last four titles, six of the last seven, and seven of the last 10.
The four games in the series were played in stadiums half-filled with fans because of the coronavirus pandemic. Fans wore masks and concession stands were open, but the singing and cheering that is typical at Japanese games was more subdued.
Attendance on Wednesday at the PayPay Dome in Fukuoka was 19,679 in a stadium that holds 38,500 for baseball.
The Giants played the first two games of the series as the home team in the Kyocera Dome in Osaka. The Tokyo Dome, the Giants home field, was booked for another event and unavailable because of the late end to the season.
Japan opened its season, shortened to 120 games from the usual 143, in June playing in empty stadiums, but after several weeks small crowds of 5,000 were admitted. That was boosted eventually to allow about 50% capacity at most games.
More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports