Monday, August 15, 2016

Pause in Activities; Manager discussion

Dear Readers,

I feel as though the only reason I post these days is to post apologies but I'm afraid this is another one and hopefully will put an end to a lot of things I left up in the air previously.

As I cannot put in the same effort and quality into my match reports, I will not be posting any more for the rest of the season. The writing of the reports I can do, but the spicing up of them ie, the gifs (which I feel sets me apart from some other bloggers) is something that takes a lot more time and something I can't do anymore with my current life priorities.

Unless the Dragons somehow make it to the playoffs (HAH!) I will not be doing specific match reports. I will reassess next year as to whether or not I can provide better coverage in future. I still want to keep this blog going and I want to bring my passion for the Dragons to you as much as I can.

All I can promise you at the moment is that I may post the odd update regarding pertinent news to the team or if I just want to get something out there. I can promise I will cover the 2016 draft and I will write reports on the new players that we sign.

In the meantime I will still be semi-active on twitter and I will still be updating articles on Wikipedia as much as I can.

My most recent Wikipedia articles are this list of Chunichi managers (took me about a week to complete) and I have also taken it upon myself to start some pages in English on the draft. I have so far only done 2015 and 2014 but will get through more as time passes. I do my best to update the player pages when they pass certain milestones or whatever, but that's generally only to pages that  I've already cleaned up a fair bit. I have also started some templates for Chunichi Draft picks as well which you can see at the bottom of 2014/2015 draft pick player pages. It's a facet on the Japanese Wikipedia that I thought was a good touch.

Anyway, that's where I'm at. Match reports are beyond me but I'll do a season wrap and put up anything I think is interesting.

While I'm here I may as well talk about the major news out of the Dragons camp that is the "resting" of Motonobu Tanishige, our manager. After a slew of well...average results the Chunichi chairman has axed our long serving catcher as manager with the end of the season somewhat in sight. Our head coach, Shigekazu Mori has taken over as interim manager. From what I've seen since Shige's axing, we've been worse without him. The Swallows and the Tigers have been taking the piss out of us and I wouldn't be surprised if Tanishige's dismissal has deflated moral in the club. I never understand mid-season axings. We have nothing to lose and Mori is by no means going to be a better manager. Would have made more sense to axe him at the end of the year but maybe that's just me. I feel sorry for him but that's baseball. According to this article I found however, it may be that his use-by date was cut short due to, ahem, differences with the general manager, Hiromitsu Ochiai. (What a surprise!)

The hunt for a successor is going to be an interesting one though and not one that I can predict. A lot of fans are going to be shouting out to bring in Mr Dragons, Kazuyoshi Tatsunami who has been interested in managing since his retirement in 2009. The door is open now and maybe a few years on the sidelines watching the game might have been good for him. There is a bit of controversy surrounding Tatsunami though as there have been whispers, and I do say only whispers, of him being involved in a drug scandal with Kazuhiro Kiyohara who was arrested this year. That might be enough, whether evidence is founded or not, for the Dragons to give him a miss.

The other choices out in the ether are a lot less clear for me. I think given Michihiro Ogasawara's management of the 2nd team, there might be an opening for him. I think he'd be a good choice and would bring a good personality to the coaching staff. It might still be a bit early for him though although it seems the job is his to lose according to this article. Of the recently retired, Kazuhiro Wada, Masashi Yamamoto and Kenshin Kawakami all ring bells as possibilities but the former two seem relatively happy with punditry (and don't seem like managerial types to me) and Kawakami had a bit of an acrimonious end to his Chunichi career so there might be some bad blood between him and management (most likely between him an Ochiai).

I'm essentially clueless as to who will step in. It might be one of the current staff members, it might be someone that decided to retire this season (Morino? Yamai?) but hopefully whoever it is will give this team a kick up the bum, bring in some good players in the draft and get the Dragons back on course to being contenders. Ochiai is in charge of a 3 man team to find a new manager and that means probably someone he likes (ruling out Tatsunami and Kawakami).

The Dragons are currently sitting in last place and the only thing we can really be happy about is that we'll get out automatic first pick in the draft at the end of the season. Let's just hope it's not another Ochiai special like Ryosuke Nomura. Ugh.

That'll about do me for now, but as I say, I will update periodically but I will no longer be doing match reports as I can't balance the workload at this particular point in my life.

Thanks for your understanding.



Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Writer's Update: Where's them reports, boy'o?

Good morning readers and well wishers,

Just dropping in a line that I am still going to keep updating the blog (despite my current inactivity). I have about 5 series reports up my sleeve that I have yet to upload but haven't gotten around to due to time constraints and internet access issues.

The current situation is that I write my reports up during my lunch break, but I unfortunately don't have access to the internet when I do so which means I can't work on gifs at the same time. When I get home, I have a my 2-month old daughter and wife to attend to and they take precedence over the blog. My daughter hasn't been nodding off to sleep as early as we'd like recently, so I haven't been able to hop onto the computer afterwards to do the reports.

There have also been a few things that I've had to do in regards to my career which has been slowing my progress down here as well. I'm just generally particularly busy at the moment.

I do still update on twitter from time to time as I watch the first few innings of the Dragons games on the train on the way home from work as well as on the weekends. So, apologies for any confusion but twitter activity does not equal blog activity unfortunately. One take a lot less effort than the other.

I'm really sorry I haven't been able to keep you updated as much as I would like, and I went from very ambitious goals of daily reports plus features to series reports and now...just anything I can find the time to do.

I will aim to get a few reports up this week in two series chunks. If I get the time I'll put in a little bit of info on the Fresh All-Stars (Futures Game) and the NPB All-Stars game as well, particularly in relation to how the Dragons players fared.

Hope to get on top of things by the end of the month. Until then, I ask for patience and I really do apologise for not sticking to my deadlines.



Thursday, June 23, 2016

Player Update: Where are they now?; 2015 Draft, FA and Foreign player stats

As we’re just about halfway through the season, I thought I would do a run-down of how all the new guys are doing. This report will include all the 2015 draft picks as well as the new foreign guys that have come in this season.

Draft 2015

#1 – Shinnosuke Ogaswara (Tokai University Sagami High)

The young bloke had a shaky start to life in the Western League as he regularly gave up big runs and lots of walks. He was however entrusted with starting duties against the Hawks, Buffaloes and Marines in inter-league play and walked away with just one loss from his 3 games, pitching rather well. Early signs show that he might be a Wakamatsu style pitcher throwing 4-seam fast-balls mixed with regular change-ups, but the hope is that he can get his curve and slider into the zone to open up his armory a bit more. Early signs are good for the youngster who may well be the best 1st draft pick-up in a while.

2-gun stats: 6 games, 2L, 26.1 IP, 22 SO, 5.47 ERA
1-gun stats: 3 games, 1L, 15 IP, 10 SO, 3.60 ERA

#2 – Yu Sato (Tohoku Fukushi University)

Sato has also seen some first team action already this year and became the first Dragons player since Kenshin Kawakami to claim a win in a starting debut in his performance against the Yokohama Baystars. He was used as a reliever a couple of games later much to the dismay of many and hasn’t been seen in the first-team since. Looks like he could still be good in the time to come.

2-gun stats: 8 games, 1W1L, 22.1 IP, 16 SO, 3.22 ERA
1 gun stats: 4 games, 1W, 10.2 IP, 7 SO, 5.91 ERA

#3 – Takuya Kinoshita (Toyota)

The industrial league’s best catcher was brought in to give more competition to Katsura and Sugiyama but has only seen one match in the 1st team so far and that was from the bench. Takuma Kato was preferred over him on opening day, but it looks like he is finding his feet in the 2-gun with some good batting on show. Next year he will probably be in the mix to be the 3rd catcher off the rank.

2-gun stats: 26 games, 52 AB, 2 HR, 5 RBI, .308 Avg, .462 SLG, .400 OBP

#4 – Hiroto Fuku (JR Kyushu)

The young lefty has been probably the most frequently used by Tanishige this season. He showed good promise in the pre-season open games and has obviously been showing the right stuff in training. Deployed mostly as a long-reliever this year he has done reasonably well. He got his first win when Drew Naylor went down with injury after one batter in May against the Giants, and has otherwise been thereabouts in the bullpen. Recently he hasn’t seen much time I believe due to the resurgence of Takuya Okada and the emergence of Ryuya Ogawa.

1-gun stats: 22 games, 1W1L, 4 HLD, 36.2 IP, 27 SO, 4.17 ERA

#5 – Toshiki Abe (Honda)

Abe was given Wada’s #5 by management which should give some indication of expectation, but the utility infielder has struggled a bit adapting to the pro game. He has only featured in the Western League so far and has been at the end of a few errors in the field and hasn’t really been doing a whole lot with the bat either. Given the other options ahead of him for the infield positions, there’s next to no chance we’ll see him in the first team this year.

2-gun stats: 25 games, 68 AB, 7 RBI, .206 Avg, .324 SLG, .304 OBP

#6 – Ryota Ishioka (JR East Japan)

Not much to really say about Ishioka. He was injured at the beginning of the season and has just started getting back into the swing of things. He has looked very good in his showings in the Western League so far but it is a bit early to tell as to how far he can continue his form. A good batting infielder by the looks and he may well get a look-in for the first team this season if all goes well.

2-gun stats: 11 games, 26 AB, 10 H, .385 Avg, .500 SLG, .448 OBP

FA/Cash Signings

#1 – Shota Ohba (Softbank Hawks)

This one has me scratching my head now. Ohba was the Dragons first signing of the season through a cash settlement with the Hawks. My initial thought was that he might be another piece to put in our starting rotation, but he hasn’t seen any time in the first team at all. Not only that, but he’s been limited in his action with the 2-gun as well. As a youngster Ohba was very highly though of and had 6 teams after him in the draft where the Hawks claimed him, but I really don’t understand why just yet.

2-gun stats: 7 games, 2L, 16.1 IP, 7 SO, 6.06 ERA

New Foreign Players

#1 – Dayan Viciedo (Chicago White Sox)

Well, the Dragons were missing homeruns last season and Viciedo has provided them. The Cuban announced himself with 3 homeruns in consecutive games of the opening series of the season against the Hanshin Tigers to set a record for the first foreign player to do so. He hasn’t just been hooking balls into the left stand either as he has been placing homers all over the park. His early pace saw him on track for a 40+ homer season, but pitchers have been able to find him out a bit more recently. Tigers manager, Tomoaki Kanemoto mentioned early on that Viciedo was weak to dropping balls like curves and forks and that seems to have become standard across Japan now when approaching him. Still, Viciedo’s presence has been immense and “El Tank” has become an instant fan favourite and a constant starter at first-base for the Dragons.

1-gun stats: 70 games, 257 AB, 46 RBI, 16 HR, .276 Avg, .518 SLG, .363 OBP

#2 – Jordan Norberto (Oakland Athletics)

Jordan came into the team as a respected long-relief pitcher with experience in the MLB but Tanishige and the pitching staff started to turn him into a starter as soon as he got off the plane. Norberto made his debut as a relief pitcher against the Tigers, but has since been a constant part of the starting rotation. The lefty has the stamina of an ox and is as miserly as Ebenezer Scrooge, barely giving up an inch when on the mound. He and Viciedo have easily been two of the best pick-ups in the off-season for dare I say it the entire central league.

2-gun stats: 1 game, 1W, 5 IP, 4 SO, 0.00 ERA
1-gun stats: 11 games, 4W1L, 66.1 IP, 53 SO, 2.04 ERA

#3 – Juan Jaime (Atlanta Braves)

The Dominican closer was highly touted on his introduction to the team as a man that could throw a 163km/h fast-ball. He hasn’t had the chance to show it however as he injured his shoulder in Spring training. Given the woes with Koji Fukutani this year, he may well have been a handy player to have. He has however just recently come back from injury and is getting in some bull-pen practice. We might see him in the first-team if Tanishige can sacrifice one of Viciedo, Hernandez, Norberto or Nanita.

#4 – Luis Septimo (Chicago White Sox)

Septimo, another Dominican, was brought in just earlier this month after some time spent training with the team. He’s only pitched one game so far for the farm team so we’re not sure just yet what he can offer. I’ve heard him described as a closer but he may well be a starter.

2-gun stats: 1 game, 1 IP, 2 SO, 0.00 ERA

(Stats correct as of the 23rd of June 2016)

Also, just as a note to you all, I have mentioned it on the twitter page, but I have been updating a lot of the DragonsWikipedia pages. A lot of pages are still stubs but I’m filling in information when I get the time. The best of my work so far is Shuhei Takahashi, Yudai Ono and Shinnosuke Ogasawara. Feel free to ch-ch-ch-check it out. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Inter-league: Dragons vs Fighters @Nagoya Dome, June 17th - 19th; Dragons go Ham on Fighters

The last round of interleague play would bring about old foes, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters. The Fighters are probably best known abroad for fostering the growth of Texas Rangers ace, Yuu Darvish as well as home of the man that may follow in the aforementioned’s footsteps, Shohei Ohtani. To Dragons fans, at least in recent memory, the Fighters were the team that they traded Japan Series blows with in 2006 and 2007, the latter series where the Dragons clinched their J-Series title in 53 years off the back of a Daisuke Yamai and Hitoki Iwase combined, sphincter clinching, 1-0, perfect game.

Game 1 at the Nagoya dome would see Jordan Norberto face off against Luis Mendoza. Both pitchers went pound for pound the whole game with Jordan pitching 115 balls in 7 1/3 scoreless innings for 8 strikeouts. The Dominican has put in some great shows of stamina recently and his accuracy as well has to be applauded. Mendoza went 7 innings pitching a comparatively economic 88 deliveries with 6 strikeouts and 3 hits conceded.

The deciding event of the game would be a combination between old hands, Yohei Ohshima and Ryosuke Hirata. Ohshima got to first only to be bunted ahead by Araki. Hirata stepped up to take a two base hit and send his lead-off hitter home to end the scoring at 1-0 in the 4th inning.
Commentators made mention of the vague similarity to Yamai and Iwase’s heroics 9 years ago, and apart from the 5 hits that Jordan conceded, it was pretty close to replay as Tajima took his 4th save of the season to end the game.

Game 2 would see another appearance from the re-born Yudai Ohno on the mound as he faced off against Mitsuo Yoshikawa to try and win the series for the Dragons.
Hirata would be the hero once again as his solo homer in the bottom of the first set the Dragons off to a winning start.

Takuya Nakajima however would take advantage of a wayward Ohno in the 5th inning after the bases were loaded up with a single to even the scores. The Dragons would however retake the lead in the 6th through that man, Hirata as he sent Araki home after his successful steal, 2-1. Nanita would add to the carnage through a two-base hit to allow Hirata to score and make it 3-1. Brandon Laird however gave the Fighters hope in the 9th through a solo homer of his own.

It was however to be of no consequence as Tajima settled and took out Asama and Ushino consecutively to end the game and claim the save.

Hirata was “da man” with his two game deciding hits while Nanita, Ohshima and Hernandez all chipped in with hits of their own to contribute to the victory.  Ohno threw down 7 innings with 3 strikes and 3 walks or 1 earned run while Matayoshi held and Tajima made the save.  Another even game that the Dragons just edged with a bit of individual brilliance to give the Dragons a series win.

Game 3 and the final game of interleague play would see a battle of aces old and new with Shohei Ohtani facing up against Chunichi’s ace in the hole, Kazuki Yoshimi. It would take until the 6th inning before the Fighters broke through with Brandon Laird’s timely two base hit to send Ohtani in to score, 1-0. Ohtani himself would contribute with  the bat in the 8th after a bizarre substitution of three pitchers, Okada, Matayoshi and Ogawa loaded up the bases. Ohtani took a walk off Ogawa to give the Fighters some room at 2-0.  It would take the 4th pitcher change of the inning in Daisuke Sobue to end the inning.  Daikan Yoh would be the next to add to the lead as his single off Daisuke Yamai sent Taniguchi home, 3-0.  The Dragons would try their best to rally in the bottom of the 9th as Masui gave up a walk to Hirata and a hit to Viciedo to put runners on 2nd and 3rd. Ricardo Nanita’s then ground out to first would allow Hirata to score to put things at 3-1. Hernandez’s base hit would then score Viciedo to bring the scores to 3-2 and a tense moment for Ham closer, Masui. Nomoto would then take a walk to bring the closer off the mound to be replaced by Chris Martin. Up against the former Fighter, Takahito Kudo, Martin fanned the veteran outfielder to end the game and claim the save. A tense ending to a great game.

Daikan Yoh was the pick of the hitters with his three while Hernandez and Viciedo both claimed two hits a piece for the Dragons. Yoshimi looked good in his 6 innings as he fanned 8 while giving up one earned run. The less perhaps said about the bullpen this game the better.
An overall series win for the Dragons in some very tightly contested but enjoyable games.

The Dragons finished the interleague standing in a respectable mid-table 8th with a 7-11 record, the weakest team batting average at .195 but conversely the best team ERA with 2.31.
Chunichi currently sits at 3rd on the Central League ladder after 70 games with a .478 winning average.

The team now has a rest until Friday when the play the Yakult Swallows at Jingu.

The good news to come out of camp this week however is that Shuhei Takahashi looks set to be on the return train as he was given the all clear to join the 2-gun team for practice.  Juan Jaime made it through he first bull-pen practice since he was injured in pre-season and Drew Naylor doesn't look likely to return until at least after the all-star break.

As for the All-star fan voting, as of the 20th a few Dragons players have popped up. Wakamatsu is the main nominated starter with 19,224 votes but Tomoyuki Sugano is way ahead of the pack with 131, 239 votes. Baystars Shota Imanaga trails him with 101,879 votes while Hiroki Kuroda of the Carp sits in third. 

Shinji Tajima however sits in the lead of voting for relief pitcher with 168,852 being trailed by Tomoya Mikami of the Baystars and Scott Mathieson of the Giants.

Viciedo is second with 121,470  at the moment for 1st base behind Takahiro Arai who's well ahead with 214, 646 votes. Mauro Gomez rounds out the top 3. 

Tetsuto Yamada is unsurprisingly taking the lions share of votes for second base with 252, 631, Ryosuke Kikuchi trails him by around 100k votes. Masahiro Araki however sits in 4th 10,000 votes off 3rd placed Luis Cruz.

Shingo Kawabata looks set to take 3rd, but our boy Shuhei sits third in the ranking with 63, 341 behind Giants favourite Shuichi Murata. 

Naomichi Donoue sneaks into the top 5 for short-stop with 59,123 votes, but Hayato Sakamoto sits on top with 183, 373 votes. 

Meanwhile in the outfield Ryosuke Hirata is the only one that gets a mention in the top 8 as he sit is 5th behind Tsutusgo, Maru, Takayama and Eldred in the voting. No sign of Nanita; what a travesty. 

I'll fill you in when the selections are made but for the time being you can review the current count here.

Hirata and Tajima are probably certain selections at this stage, apart from that we'll just have to see what happens!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Interleague: Double Trouble: Dragons v Seibu Lions & Chiba Lotte June 10th - 16; I didn't care about interleague in the first place!

Well, we're back for inter-league play and for the sake of convenience I'm doing two reports in one go. Fair? Good. Let's get going.

It was a battle of the pitchers on Friday night for Game 1 against the Seibu Lions in Saitama.
Former Giants and Fighters outfielder, Takahito Kudo was elevated to the starting 9 as Ryosuke Hirata was put on ice due to back pain complaints.

Jordan Norberto started on the mound and did all he could to keep the Dragons in the hunt for honours.  His quick motion kept the Lions on their toes as the Dominican, apart from one hiccup in the 2nd inning where he loaded the bases, on top to keep his team in the game. Jordan threw down 130 pitches in 7 innings fanning 9 and walking 5 for 3 earned hits. Massive numbers for the southpaw.

Shinsaburo Tawada for the Lions as well was well in control showing magnificent accuracy and form with his pitches in what commentators dubbed as his best performance out of the farm. He pitched 107 in 8 innings fanning 8 and only walking two for the same amount of hits as Jordan.

Relievers on both sides would do their jobs as Yamai and Okada held for the Dragons while Masuda and Makita held for the Lions

The decisive run would come in the final extra inning off Shinji Tajima’s pitching as Akiyama’s RBI single sent Uemoto home to seal a walk-off win. 

A very close game that was decided in the worse way possible for the Dragons but that was the ball game. Top pitching from both sides made for a great spectacle.

Game 2 would be a much higher scoring affair with Yudai Ohno his second start since recovering from injury. The Dragons ace would be up against Yasuo Sano in his first start of the year.

Ohno would be the first to break in the 3rd inning as a sac-fly from Asamura allowed Kaneko to open the scoring.  It wouldn’t be held for long as in the bottom of the inning, Hirata was scored by Nanita from a sac-fly of his own to even things up. Katsura would take the lead for the Dragons in the 5th through another sac-fly as Donoue wandered home to make it 1-2.  Ohno unfortunately however hit a bad run in the bottom of the inning as he gave up a walk to Kaneko, a hit to Onizaki and another walk  to load the bases; the rot would continue however as Mejia elected to walk to put Lions back on an even footing. It would be however Hirata the hero in the 8th as the captain mashed a 2-run homer, his 8th of the season, to give the Dragons the lead.

Ohno would pitch out a complete game and close out a well -deserved win.

Hirata and Ohno showed why they were chosen for the Premier 12 with their performances today. Both showed just how important they are to the Dragons with match winning contributions.

Game 3 against the Lions would have a different complexion again. Kazuki Yoshimi started for the Dragons while Ryoma Nogami started for the Lions.

The mightly Lions would strike metal first as Mejia took the bat to Yoshimi and sent him over the fence for a solo homer, his 21st of the season, in the 1st  inning.

The Dragons would quickly reply however through Sugiyama as his single allowed Viciedo to score. Chunichi would take the lead in the 6th inning after a pitcher induced lull as Donoue struck a triple to send Nanita in to score, 1-2. In the 7th inning, Yamai was introduced to replace Ogawa and a poor throw from Kamezawa to Viciedo at first would allow Mejia a base hit and send Akiyama home to even the scores. News would get worse for Yamai as he gave up a hit to Asamura who scored Mejia to grab the lead for the Lions. Masuda was brought in to end proceedings and did a good job of it giving up just the one hit to Kamezawa before closing out to claim the save.

Shota Takekuma grabbed his 3rd win of the season as Yamai lost his 7th game, ranking him as the least successful pitcher in the Central League.

A bittersweet series to end the road tour on, but they were hard fought on both sides. The pitchers prevailed during the series with both Seibu and Chunichi lads fronting up great performances. 

For the Lions perspective on the games, be sure to check out the lads at Graveyard Baseball for all things Seibu. The boys over there do a lot of good work.

Our second last inter-league match of the year (barring play-offs; HAH) would be up against the Chiba Lotte Marines. Now I have a soft spot for the Marines, the first game of baseball I ever saw was an inter-league game between the Marines and the Dragons at QVC stadium plus I live in Chiba so it’s hard not to like them at least a little bit (plus I really like Kakunaka).

Anyway, the first game would be in Gifu as the Dragons took one of their home games to Nagaragawa ball park. This is another personal little thing for me as I fell in love with the Dragons while living in Gifu!

Shinnosuke Ogasawara was in my mind scheduled to start this game, but Tanishige had other plans as he started the most veteran of the pitching staff, Raul Valdes. Ayumu Ishikawa would be the opponent and a tough one at that as the Lotte pitcher has already won 6 of his 9 games this season.

Lotte would be the ones to take an early lead in Gifu as Kakunaka’s single sent Hosoya home to score.  Yamaico Navarro would then step up and stamp his authority on the game by rifling a homer into the upper tiers of the stands to make it 0-3.

Valdes would go some way to atoning for his pitching in the 3rd inning as his base hit sent Donoue into score, 1-3. Hirata’s heroics would then get Dragons hopes up with his solo homer in the 6th to make it 2-3.

However it wasn’t to be as a Kiyota solo shot in the 9th ended all hopes of a fight back to end the game at 2-4. 

Hirata was the best of the Chunichi bats with 2 in 4 but there wasn’t enough about the team to overcome a very good Ayumu Ishikawa.

Back to the Nagoya Dome for game 2 and it was Shunta Wakamatsu back on the mound  while a thus far undefeated Ryota Sekiya starting things off for the Marines.

Lotte would once again not hold back early on as they hammered Wakamatsu from the off with a lead-off homerun from Hosoya.  

Navarro would continue the scoring in the first with a base hit to send Alberto Despaigne home to make it 0-2.  Nanita hauled one back in the bottom of the inning as he scored Araki, but Hosoya would be at it again in the 2nd inning with a two base hit to restore Chiba’s lead to two.  Things would get worse for Wakamatsu in the 5th as he loaded up the bases only to walk Sekiya to cause an overload bringing Suzukihome. Hosoya the grabbed his 3rd and 4th RBIs of the game with a hit to bring Kiyota and Tamiura home to bust the game open at 1-6.

Donoue would restore some respectability to the game with his 3rd homer of the season in the 5th.

But it wouldn’t be enough to beat the Marines as the superior fire power of the Pac League side blasted 12 hits to the Dragons 5.

Hosoya was clearly the man of the match with his 4 RBIs with just about everything he touched turning to gold. Wakamatsu has to sort himself out as I really don’t think the Central League batters are going to be kind to him when we go back to regular season games. Sugiyama was the only real batter of note with his 2 base hits while, apart from Donoue, the others failed to really contribute postively

Heading into Game 3, the Dragons were looking to avoid a sweep at home and up to the mound came the junior, Shinnosuke Ogasawara to take on Kouta Futaki.

Giving up leads early on has been our specialty this series and the inevitable would only be delayed by one inning as Tamura’s sac-fly scored Marines captain, Daisuke Suzuki to make it 0-1. The Dragons would however find a way back through Donoue’s RBI double to make it 1-1 but the Marines would take the lead back through a Suzuki sac-fly with loaded bases as he scored Kakunaka to take a 2-1 lead. Kiyota would further extend the lead immediately after with 2-base hit to send Alberto Despaigne home, 1-3.  Ogasawara was then withdrawn for Shinji Tajima but neither team would budge from the 1-3 score line as Nishino claimed his 17th save of the season (what a pace is that!?).

A sweep to the Marines and a first career loss to Ogasawara marked a pretty dismal day.  Despaigne was on fire for the Marines with 3 hits while Kakunaka struck two and claimed a walk. For the Dragons Ohshima and Yusuke Matsui both claimed two hits a piece in a very even game where both sides hit 7 base hits each.

A pretty poor performance overall, but the Marines are just a level above what we can offer at the moment. Injuries are taking their toll as well as we’re still waiting for the return of a host of players including Ryosuke Oguma and Shuhei Takahashi. Hirata was out of the third game with back issues as well. 

Check out We Love Marines for all the Chiba Lotte news you need and the Ouendan as well as all the Pacific League news you didn't need! 

Last of all, this week John Gibson and Jim Allen's Japan Baseball podcast this week will have our very own Ricardo Nanita on the show for a chat. Definitely check it out when it drops!