Wednesday, August 31, 2016

August: News and Musings

Hi all, time for an update of sorts with a bit of news about what's going on.

First of all the talking point:


  • FA Risks; who's staying and who's going?
  • Manager search update
  • The good, the bad and the fugly - Results and Records
  • 2016 Draft Information and possible targets
FA News

Alright, well, I'll start off with what I've heard regarding possible free agent moves. First of all, Yohei Oshima, probably our best bat this year (averaging around .300) has elected to browse the market. He is eligible for domestic free agency this year and has taken his right to do so. However it is worth noting that just because he has elected to be a free agent doesn't mean he won't resign with Chunichi. I think it would be an absolute travesty to lose him particularly after the season he's having and we really have no one else in the organisation notable enough to fill in for his offensive and defensive production. He steals bases, hits for average and has one the Golden Glove for center-field 2 years in a row. The other outfield options in the organisation don't fill me with confidence. Shota Tomonaga would be a like for like replacement, but he's just a speedster with bang average numbers on the farm. We might see a stop-gap replacement of some sort in the future if he leaves. 

The other major piece at risk this year is Ryosuke Hirata, el captiano. While he's had a pretty rough year with injuries and being moved up down and sideways through the line-up (he's batted at pretty much every spot from 3-7 at some point) hasn't helped things at all. At the start of the season he was well on track for around ..280 and 20 homers, but his production has really slowed up of late. That however doesn't change the fact that he is still a very good player and very important to the Dragons. The poor season we're having and the mismanagement of Tanishige might well sway him to look elsewhere. He hasn't as yet elected for free agency but the team would take a massive hit if he left. I said our outfield options aren't hot and there's no one that can replace what Hirata offers. I wouldn't be surprised if someone like the Giants was hovering around waiting for him. I honestly believe that if we lost Hirata, morale would completely nose dive. We need to keep him. 

Otherwise some of the veterans are available as international FAs this year with Araki, Morino and Iwase open to sign for teams overseas. Given the stature of all of them as club legends though they won't be going anywhere and they're already being reported to be making moves to remain for next season. 

Staying

The future of our foreign legion however is much more uncertain as the 7 players on the books may well be culled quite significantly. The good new however is that Viciedo has signaled that he wants to stay in Japan and play with us so he appears to be undergoing contract negotiations with a view to stay. I am very happy with that. His production has been off the second half of the season, but so has the whole team. 

Undecided/Should Stay

While I have not hear solid new about the others, Raul Valdes has mentioned a desire to stay and I can't see why not given he's been fairly solid this year despite his age. Ricardo Nanita had a blistering start to the season only to get injured (not unlike last year) and I suppose there are possibly doubts over whether he'll stay given that injury history, his age, and the emergence of Hiroki Kondo. Jordan Norberto is probably the only other of the group that deserves to stay based on his performances so far and I personally hope we hold on to him.

Probably Gone 

Drew Naylor, Juan Jaime and Leyson Septimo I would think would be on the way out. I really don't want Drew to leave as he shows a real desire to play well at this level. He's shown a desire to adapt to the Japanese way of playing/coaching and I would hope they'd keep him on even as a relief option. Jaime has been a victim of a season ending injury at the beginning of the season and we've barely seen any of him. Septimo had one start and hasn't been seen since so it's likely he'll get the chop too. Anderson Hernandez always seems to do something for the team and his willingness to drop in and out of the firsts freely is quite an asset but given the local options we have for middle infield spots (Endo, Donoue, Kamezawa, Araki, et al), I can see him possibly leaving. 

I am yet to hear about us moving for any FA players from other teams, but I have heard we will be looking at the market. The weirdest rumour I have heard however is that we are in for Hawks outfielder Ryuma Kidokoro who, despite his career .200 average, was the MVP of the interleague series hitting .415.


Manager Search Update

There's really not much to add but the noise is still Michihiro Ogasawara, our farm team coach. He's got the credentials really and the owner seems to like him. I can't see the management thinking outside the box for this one and I completely believe he'll get the job. The farm team are second in the Western League at the moment and Ogasawara has done well with his charges. Whether or not that will translate to the big leagues is another thing entirely. I personally think he'll be a good coach but whether or not he'll get the support he needs is another thing entirely.

The good, the bad and the fugly - Results and Records

We suck. Currently we're the whipping boys of the NPB and we don't even look like upsetting anyone. Mori has not done anything that Tanishige couldn't have done and we're just seeing so much crap it's ridiculous. Mori even had Shuhei at 2nd base for some reason in the past few games and that makes about as much sense as eating 5 bars of chocolate a day to stay in shape. Viciedo has been out injured which has not helped things but the batting line-up is just woeful. We recently went on a 15 game run of scoring 3 runs or less. The worst in 48 years. For real. Our bats don't produce frequently enough. 

Also to add to all the doom and gloom, our number one pitching prospect, Shinnosuke Ogasawara is 0-5 this year which is the second worst high school rookie year in NPB history and the absolute worst in the Central League. He has not pitched badly at all. He should be more around 3-2 or so. The batting line-up has not helped him in any of his games and two of the occasions he looked like getting a win (on his debut and then the following game) the bullpen didn't hold on for him. Fukutani gave up 4 runs in relief on Ogasawara's debut and Tajima gave up an equalising run against..someone I can't quite remember in the 9th inning to rob him of his win. I feel sorry for the lad. He's really improved a lot. He's putting his secondary stuff in the zone a lot more often now and his most recent start was a fantastic 8 strikeouts in 7 innings where he only conceded 3 hits including a 2-run homer. Makes me sick that this team can't help a young guy out. 

For the good thing however, we have actually had two good wins in the last two games. While we lost the series against the rampant Carp on the weekend, Naomichi Donoue struck his first career grand-slam in the third game to give us the win. Shota Sugiyama then went on to get his first career slam against the Tigers yesterday against an errant Shintaro Fujinami. 2 grand slam games in a row is a first for the Dragons in 10 years. Donoue was also on fire against the Tigers as he hit 4 to contribute to the team's win. 

Kazuki Yoshimi also strung together two wins in a row recently which is the first for him in a while too which is good to see. 

2016 Draft Information and possible targets

Well, unless you follow university/high school/industrial league baseball you're probably not going to have heard of either of these guys, but that's why I'm here.

Meiji University stater, Yuya Yanagi has been suggested by Chunichi Sports as the number one target for the Dragons at the draft.  He's a former graduate of lauded Yokohama Senior High baseball club (where Nobumasa Fukuda among others is an alum of) and was the team ace at the Spring Koshien in 2012 where he pitched 26.1 innings in 3 games taking 22 strikeouts for a 1.72 ERA. 

He's been posting good numbers in the Big6 University League in Tokyo. He posted 5-2 from 60 innings with 73 strikeouts for a 1.95 ERA (2nd best in the league) in fall last year and he has posted an even more impressive 6-1 from 72 innings with 87 strikeouts for a 0.87 ERA in the spring league this year. He was selected in the Best 9 for both league seasons

He has played for the Japanese national university team and took an astonishing 8 straight Ks against the US in a 1-0 shut-out win. 

He can throw a 150 km/h fastball, slider, a killer curveball, change-up, two-seamer and a cutter. A pretty diverse arsenal. 

We desperately need better starters and Yanagi could provide that but he is apparently being chased by Rakuten and the Giants as well as apparently 10 Major League teams if you can believe it. Although, I must admit, given our batting woes a good solid hitter wouldn't go amiss either....

The other target that has been mentioned is someone that is probably going to be the most sought after pitcher in the draft for a long while. Soka University's Seigi Tanaka. I've heard some reports that as many as...well...all of the teams are interested in having him. He may well be the most sought after player at the draft since Hideo Nomo. 

He played his high school ball with Soka Senior High but his team didn't make it as far as Koshien. He has however been tearing through the university leagues in both the fall and spring leagues last year, he posted 6-0 with an era of 0.40 and 0.00 respectively. No one can hit this guy and he strikes out just over one batter per inning on average. He also took part in the Haarlem Baseball Week with the Japanese national university team and ended up with 16 wins from 22 games for a 0.47 ERA including striking out 11 in 9 innings for one run in the semi-finals. 

His biggest weapon is his 154 km/h fastball which, well, is fast. He regularly clocks speeds around over the 150 mark and his strikeout numbers speak for themselves. 72% of his pitches in the Haarlem tournament were straight deliveries. He also has a slider, fork, curve and a cutter in his kit bag that appear to be used sparingly. He's a big lad at 186cm and 90km, but the extra weight helps with his power.

I don't like our chances of snagging Tanaka, we never do well in the contested lotteries, but we might get Yanagi if we go in for him from the off. Have a feeling that Yanagi might be the better fit for the team.


Anyway that'll be all from me for now. Just thought I'd throw a bit of news out there and do a bit of research on my won. Already looking forward to the post-season! 

Peace

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.

Sincerely,

Scott

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.

Cheers.


Scott


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!