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Sunday, April 24, 2016

On the Farm: Chunichi Dragons v Softbank Hawks (April 19th & 20th)

Keep  movin' movin' movin', though Hawks be disapprovin' keep those runners movin', home side! Don't try to understand em' just mash, crash and slam 'em, soon we'll be smilin' side by side. Our pitchers are frustratin' those Ks will be waiting, if we don't get that control down right. HOME SIDE!

Ahem, yes, the Western theme continues as we continue to follow the Dragons farm team and their adventures in the Western League. Things have been going remarkably well for the team with the losses few and far between. A lot of the good performers have so far gone up to the first team and done well, most noticeably Tetsuya Tani has carried on his superb form.

Michihiro Ogaswara's team headed down to the Hawks Baseball Park Chikugo where the Softbank team normally plays it's 2-gun and 3-gun games. We had another incidence where a 3-game series was turned into a 2-game series because of rain on the 21st. This also hampered recovery efforts in Kumamoto so a called off game was really the least of the worries.

2 games and another two wins to follow. Some good batting on the 19th and some good pitching on the 20th ensured a series win once more for our talented 2-gun players.

Game 1 of the series would see a return to the mound for Yudai Kawai while Yosuke Shimabukuro took up duties for the Hawks. Yudai had a typical blow out after a few innings, but it wasn't to be too detrimental to the team's overall success. The Dragons opened the scoring in the 1st with Hirata hitting home Kondo and the lead was extended to 0-4 in the 4th. One run given up in the 4th and then 4 runs given away in the 5th made it a 5-4 scoreline in favour of the Hawks. With things scoreless until the 9th, Ishikawa scored 2 runners to put the Dragons ahead and secure the win.

Kaneko with the save.

Yudai Kawai as mentioned did reasonably well but 4 conceded runs in his 5th inning meant that he was yoinked from the mound fairly early on. Yudai did however take 5 strikeouts but threw 2 walks and allowed 7 hits off his 4 2/3 innings. 93 balls in his spell meant that he probably is lacking a bit of stamina. Yuu Sato would take 1 2/3 innings to strike out and walk two out of his 7 batters faced, helping stem the tide of runs. Ryuya Ogawa, who was in the opening day squad for the big leagues, took 1/3 of an inning and took 4 balls to strikeout his only batter. Achira would walk away as the winning pitcher as he threw down 1 1/3 innings giving up a hit and walk but taking a strikeout to stay scoreless. Takeshi Kaneko took the last inning and got the save taking two strikeouts despite giving up two hits.

Kondo showing the good

Young Kondo would be in the midst of all the good things about the batting today as he put in a superb 4 at-bats. The youngster notched 2 hits, a walk and a sacrifice hit. A great contribution. Ryosuke Hirata continued his rehabilitation as he hit 2 including an RBA to go with a walk in his 4 plate appearances. Infielder, Abe started to show signs of settling in as he scored twice and hit two RBIs to go with a walk in a very good appearance with the bat. Ishikawa would be another to carve up the Hawks pitching as he made a telling contribution with 3 hits including 2 RBIs and a walk in his 4 at-bats. Special mention too goes to Ryuichiro Akada who made his comeback as a pinch-hitter after being sidelined with a broken thumb. The catcher with an American grandfather hit two from two to end a good days work. There were plenty of good contributions with the bat, maybe too many to list.

A good performance from the batters and relievers saved the game after some shoddy pitching from Yudai early on. A 5-8 win were the spoils. Credit goes to Abe and Mizowaki, particularly the former, for their fantastic displays in the field.

Here's some highlights from the 9th inning:

Game 2 would prove to be a much closer affair as Chunichi managed to hold on to a 0-2 lead that was achieved in the second inning to close out what would end up being a series sweep. Shinji Iwata would be the man on the mound for the Dragons as a recovering former Major Leaguer, Daisuke Matuzaka would be the Hawks starter for the day. Takuma Kato, and Mizowaki would start things for the Dragons in the second inning to get on base and it was successive RBIs from Watanabe and Kamezawa that ultimately sealed the win.

Iwata with his 1st win

Iwata defied his critics today as he pitched out 6 1/3 innings to out-pitch his opposite number. Iwata gave up only 4 hits and a walk as he claimed 6 strikeouts. Ryuya Ogawa had an easy task in his one inning as he gave up one hit against 4 batters. Achira took 2/3 of an inning and took 2 strikeouts against his two batters to continue to stifle the Hawks batting. Takeshi Kaneko finished things up with the save as he conceded one hit but struck out two to finish the game.

It was a really good start from Iwata that got things going. If he can keep his up who knows what might be around the corner, but he still has a lot to prove.

Tamura made his first full
appearance for the 2nds.

Veterans Hirata and Tamura would be the only one to walk away without a hit as the lineup all
had at least one to their name. Tamura made his full debut since his move from the Baystars and only managed to get on base once through a walk. Kamezawa would have the best performance of the game with an RBI, two walks and 3 stolen bases. Not bad! Nomoto would be the only other to walk away with more than a single approach to base as he got a hit and a walk for his troubles.

Against the likes of Daisuke Matsuzaka and Edison Barrios, it is no real surprise it was a low-scoring game but a fantastic performance from Kamezawa with the bat a and a solid performance form Iwata with the ball ensured an unspectacular but well worked win.

Here's some of Kamezawa's highlights from the game:

Two wins in two games to take away from Fukuoka with plenty of positives. 

Lastly, if you have a Pac-TV account, you can watch the Softbank 2-gun games which means you can watch the Dragons team play live when they go up against the Hawks at home.

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