Thursday, July 20, 2017

Daily Update: Dragons v Giants @Nagoya Dome, 19th July; Mr McGehee strikes again

Dragons 5-6 Giants

WP: Shoichiro Hatake 7 1/3IP 2ER 6SO            McGehee 5-5 1HR, 2RBI
LP: Yudai Ono 6IP 5ER 5SO                             Araki 4-2, 2RBI

The Dragons fought back to within a whisker of winning this but the only thing that was taken away from the game was a darkening pessimism over Yudai Ono's future.

Ono started his first game after the All-Star break by loading up the bases in the first inning. Shinnosuke Abe's sac-fly allowed McGehee to score, while off-season FA acquisition Dai-Kang Yang went yard knocking in a 3-run homer to put the Giants 4-0 up in the blink of an eye.
Hatake, the 2nd pick rookie at the 2016 draft, kept the Dragons quiet until Casey McGehee took his 3rd hit of the night in only the 4th inning through a stunning solo homer nailed into the left stands off Ono.
The Dragons looked down and out by the 8th inning as McGehee once again raked an RBI to make it 6-0 and claim his 5th hit from 5, but little were we to know that a comeback was around the corner. 
With Canadian Scott Mathieson on the mound for the Giants, the pinch-hitting Tani's single followed by Kyoda's double put two runners in scoring position with Araki up to bat. The veteran duly obliged his colleagues as his single was enough to score Tani and the fleet-footed Kyoda. Hits to Oshima and Guerrero would load up the bases but both Viciedo and Fujii failed to take profit from Mathieson's mistakes falling to end the inning. 

Koji Fukutani would take out the 9th for the Dragons and Arquimedes Caminero was called up by Yomiuri. Caminero would give up consecutive hits to Fukuda and Matsui before Tani found himself once more in the midst of the action as his RBI single put the Dragons to 3-6. Naomichi Donoue would rake 2 more RBIs in the 9th before Caminero was helped out of a jam by a Guerrero strikeout and an over optimistic run for third base by recent call-up and pinch-runner Taiki Mitsumata to end the inning.

What we learned from this game is that Ono isn't the same pitcher he was two years ago. He's not even the same pitcher he was last year. Something is going wrong and he needs to get some very special guidance to get out of his funk. We also learned that Casey McGehee loves facing us (averaging .386 with 12 RBIs) and that the team can show a bit of heart to make a comeback. Viciedo's inability to convert in a clutch situation is very worrying however as this is what we really need him to be able to do. I'll still allow him to attribute to blowing out some cobwebs, but if he wants to stay up, he's going to have to start doing more.

In other news, Kyohei Kamezawa has come down with a knee injury after Tuesday's game. He has since been deregged which is why we saw Taiki Mitsumata tonight.

On the farm, Daisuke Yamai got lit up again after giving up 5 runs in his second inning to the Carp. Jorge Rondon joined in the dumpster fire giving up 6. Neither are likely to see the light of the first team again this season in all likelihood. Yamai has already been seen tutoring younger pitchers on the farm and has reportedly taken Kento Fujishima under his wing.

Friday's slated pitchers for possibly another gory trip to Mazda Stadium are lefties Kris Johnson and Raul Valdes.

Daily Update: Dragons v Giants @Nagoya Dome, 18th July; Double dingers on the back of Yoshimi QS

Dragons 6 - 1 Giants

WP: Kazuki Yoshimi 6 2/3IP 1ER 3SO                         Fukuda 4-2, 2RBI, 1RHR
LP: Hayato Takagi 4 2/3IP 1ER 3SO                             Chono 3-2, 1BB

Before the game even started there was big news as slated Giants starting pitcher, Shun Yamaguchi was pulled after apparently going on a bender the previous week and picking a fight with a security guard which had apparently only just come to light. The former Yokohama pitcher who moved as a FA to the Giants this season, apparently injured his shoulder in the scuffle which scuttled his start and has put him in trouble with just about everyone concerned.

Hayato Takagi was hastened into an emergency start (or maybe it was planned all along?) and the Dragons took advantage of the momentum that swung their way. Kamezawa got the rub on a error from Seiji Kobayashi advancing to second while Yota Kyoda ran into score. Masato Matsui would return the favour to the Giants in the bottom of the inning as his fumble allowed Takagi to score.
The Dragons would soon again be in the ascendance however as Nobumasa Fukuda went yard for his second homer of the year.
Alex Guerrero would become bash brothers with Fukuda as he too threw his bat at an errant pitch to great effect scoring Oshima in the process for a 2-run homer, his 24th of the season.
The Dragons would continue to add insult to injury in the 8th inning as Oshima scored on a Vicedo groundout while Fukuda chipped in with another double base hit to put the Dragons in cruise control at 6-1. 

A great win for the Dragons on the back of a bad defeat. Yoshimi gets his second win of the year after pitching a good game while the bullpen had a decent run our as well. Hitoki Iwase in this game equalled another Aichi native and legend Masaichi Kaneda's record for appearances on the mound at 944. Iwase only has six more appearances to go to break the all-time record. 

Tomorrow's game will be a match up between Yudai Ono and Giants rookie Seisho Hatake. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Daily Update: Dragons v Giants @Nagoya Dome, 17th July; Ogasawara, where for art thou?

Dragons 1 - 5 Giants

WP: Miles Mikolas 7IP 1ER 6SO                           McGehee 4-2 2DBLs
LP: Shinnosuke Ogasawara 5 1/3IP 4ER 4SO        Kamezawa 4-2

Shinnosuke Ogasawara lost his 3rd in a row to hand a resurgent Giants a 5-1 win in Tokyo while Dayan Viciedo made his long awaited return to the team following a lengthy absence for his US citizenship application.

Hisashi Chono set the tone with a lead-off home run, his 9th of the year,  to immediately put pressure on the Dragons batting line-up.
The Giants would then go 3 up in the 6th after a Miles Mikolas' hit sent two runners homes after Ogasawara completely lost all command of his weaponry to load the bases with 3 consecutive walks. The Dragons would hit back in the bottom of the inning through a small rally of Kamezawa, Oshima and Guerrero which saw the Cuban slugger notch his only RBI and hit of the game. Junki Ito would surrender the last run of the game to Shinnosuke Abe whose single sent in the pinch-running Tateoka to score. Yuya Yanagi threw one inning of relief otherwise to blow off some ASG cobwebs while Koji Fukutani made a rare appearance in the 9th inning keeping things scoreless.

A disappointing loss but it is hard to ignore the trend following Ogasawara's starts. The 19 year old has bulked up a lot this year, but the command just isn't there at the moment. A tune-up on the farm might be around the corner. Viciedo went 4-0 (sometimes called a tako in Japanese) to mark a pretty disappointing return. One can only think he is a bit under cooked. He also played a full game on the farm in the afternoon which possibly wasn't the best preparation ever.

Other news: In a bit of fun for "Araki Day" at the Nagoya dome to celebrate the second baseman's 2000 hits, the team trained in #2 Araki jerseys. Before the game, the team combined with the Giants to collect aid money for flood disaster relief in northern Kyushu, a common event when disasters strike.

Tomorrow's starters are Shun Yamaguchi, the FA man the Dragons were after in the off-season and the returned Kazuki Yoshimi.

Daily Update: NPB All-Star Game @ZoZo Marines Stadium, 15th July; A very Pacific sweep

Plenty of premier talent was once again on display this time in Chiba as the Central League team went in looking to keep the series level. Only two Dragons appeared in this game with Guerrero starting in left-field and Oshima coming on later in the game to replace his team-mate.

Home Run Derby

Unlike the US, as you may have noticed, Japan likes to do everything twice. This time the homerun derby would feature all the same participants with the exception of Guerrero being replaced by Seiya Suzuki.

Tsutsugo would beat out Shohei Otani with 4 bombs to Otani's 2, while Yuki Yanagita went through after equalling Suzuki's single homer with 4 balls left to go.

The final was this time Tsutsugo against Yanagita but it was to the Hawks man that would prevail for the second time hitting two dingers from his 10 balls to Tsutsugo's single. All in all, Guerrero would have given Yanagita a better run for his money, but hey, can't blame the fans for wanting to see Suzuki.

All-Star Game #2 in Chiba

WP: Manabu Mima (Eagles) 2IP 0ER 3SO              Despaigne (Hawks) 4-3, 1 HR 1 RBI
LP: Shoichi Ino (Stars) 2IP 0ER 1SO                       Kobayashi (Giants) 3-2, 1 HR 1 RBI

Starting pitchers Tomoyuki Sugano and Takayuki Norimoto represented the best that either league has to offer in starting pitchers this season. Both pitcher claimed 3 strikeouts a piece in their 2 innings. It was to be the Central that would strike first as the Giants catcher Seiji Kobayashi cleared the fences with a solo effort. 

His effort would however be cancelled out by former Chiba slugger, Alfredo Despaigne as his solo dinger evened up the scores in the 4th.

 In the 5th the Pacific would take the lead as a lead-off triple to Daiichi Suzuki of the Marines allowed Shogo Akiyama to knock him home to make it 2-1. It would be the Chiba captain Suzuki once more to haunt the Central League as his solo homer off Yasuhiro Ogawa in the 7th claimed another win for his team. 

Alfredo Despaigne was given the MVP and 3,000,000 yen for the evening for his equalising solo homer and 3 hits overall while Suzuki, Akiyama and Kobayashi were also awarded 1,000,000 yen for their contributions on the night.

Neither Oshima or Guerrero registered a hit tonight but we can be proud that two we have seen 4 Dragons players make appearances this year. Considering most years we usually only send about two players. 

Now that the first half is officially over, the Dragons play the Giants where Shinnosuke Ogasawara will be looking to keep his record against the Tokyo team untarnished. Yudai Ono and a returned Kazuki Yoshimi are slated for the other two starts in the series.

Dayan Viciedo also looks like he'll be returning to the team, as of yet however he hasn't been officially added to the roster.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Daily Update: NPB All-Star Game @Nagoya Dome, 14th July; Pacifically speaking...

Homerun Derby

Well, going over everyone will take time, so let's just go with Guerrero. 
Alex beat out the holder Shohei Otani in the first round as he hit 2 homers to Otani's one. The rules are a bit different in Japan where the players each get 10 balls to slug as many homers as they can get. Interesting little side note, you'll see that Casey McGehee is providing the throw downs for Guerrero.

Guerrero would then take on Yuki Yanagita of the Hawk to decide the winner. I'm not sure exactly what happened here, but Guerrero got 4 homers from his alotted 10 but Yanagita had 4 in 7 balls and I believe the win was ultimately given to him because he got there faster. Anyway, great achievement for Guerrero to make the final, but Yanagita has been on fire this year. He picks up his first derby win.

The All-Star Game #1

WP: Taisuke Yamaoka (Orix) 2IP 1ER 1SO                     Nishikawa 2-2, 2RHR, 2RBI       
LP: Marcos Mateo (Hanshin) 1IP 3ER 2SO                      Tsutsugo 3-1 1HR, 1RBI

It was to be the Pacific League boys to come out on top of the Central League as they mashed their way to victory slugging home 3 homeruns including a game winning 2-run homer from Haruki Nishikawa. 

The Pacific took the lead through Shogo Akiyama's lead-off solo homer of Raul Valdes. The Central would be back in the hunt however in the 4th as Yoshitomo Tsutsugo teed off against Seibu ace, Yusei Kikuchi. The Central would take the lead in the 6th through a Guerrero double but it was to be the Pacific who would have the last laugh as Fighters duo Sho Nakata and Haruki Nishikawa added 3RBI through their fence clearning heroics while Hawks duo Seiichi Uchikawa and Alfredo Despaigne added the extra runs to make it a clear victory for the Pacific League representatives. 

Raul Valdes struck out Otani as his highlight for the game, while Katsuki Matayoshi struck out two and gave up a run in his one inning of relief. Guerrero made a steady contribution with his RBI double while Yohei Oshima got on the board with a hit in his two plate appearances. 

Not the greatest result for the Dragons involved nor the Central League itself but these things happen.

Chiba awaits tomorrow and we'll see how many Dragons will get a run out. Another HR derby will be had, but this time Carp's Seiya Suzuki will be mashing with Tsutsugo to represent the Central League. Fully otherwise expect to see Tomoyuki Sugano on the mound to start for Central while Matayoshi and Valdes may not see any more time in this series.