Only two games were squeezed out this week as rain stopped play on the 13th. Maybe the water helped the Carp swim toward victory as they flattened the water averse Dragons in the third game of the series. A modest win would be the victors spoils in game one, but overall, it was a 13-2 series loss for the Dragons where hitting was a major problem.
Our first game was to be the first regional round for the Dragons as we headed out into the Hiroshima countryside to Kure City top play at what is a regular venue for these kind of games. The regional rounds bring teams all over the place to areas that don't otherwise see a lot of baseball or in a way to expand the fan base. The Dragons will be playing the Giants in regional Kyushu next week and will play their own regional games in Gifu city and in Shizuoka at later points in the city. It's a lovely initiative and gets the game out to more fans than the usual and gives a bit of a different atmosphere for the players.
|Kure City Ballpark|
Game 16 of the season would be at the Kure City ballpark as the Dragons played Hiroshima for the second time this year. The previous outings ended in a 2-1 series win for the Dragons in Nagoya with some pretty good performances to get the season rolling. What would come of things in Hiroshima though?
Shunta "Doctor K" Wakamatsu would start on the mound this game as per the rotation with Yusuke Nomura starting things off for the Carp.
Things would start remarkably well for Chunichi in the first inning. Nomura walked Ohshima to start things and hits to Araki and Takahashi quickly had the bases loaded with Viciedo coming up behind. The big Cuban slugger would continue his 13 game home run drought as he only managed a single to help Ohshima home.
With bases still loaded, Ricardo Nanita would unfortunately strike out and Fujii would make a complete meal of the chance as he ground out into a double play. The problems of the number 5 spot reared its ugly head again as it did against the Giants. The problem of Fujii not hitting his stride remains.
The Carp would turn equal things immediately in the bottom of the first. Tanaka with a single, Kikuchi flying out and Maru with a single put runners on 1st and 2nd with Chunichi OB, Hector Luna coming up to bat. A hit through centre from the Dominican sent Tanaka on his way home and Maru onto third. The Carp would turn the equalised score into a winning one when Brad Eldred hit left to Nanita, allowing Maru to run home but it was a fumble from the outfielder that allowed Luna to progress to third base, 2-1. Wakamatsu would however recover as he removed the dangerous Arai along with Suzuki to end the inning.
The Dragons would only must two more hits all game as they failed to claw the losing score back. Carp would improve their winning score in the 6th as Eldred added to his RBI with a home run, 3-1.
The game schedule for the 13th would not go ahead, but starting pitcher plans would be moved to the 14th as Ryosuke Oguma took the the mound for his second start of the year. His near perfect spell in Nagoya last week was a joy to behold, but could he repeat the heat in Hiroshima? We went back to the Carp's natural home, not a stream, but the iconic Mazda Stadium.
Game 17 would be nothing less than a demolishing of the Dragons as the Carp ran riot in the home ground, driving home 10 runs to the Dragons one. Oguma, who had previously only considered one hit against the Baystars, conceded 8 hits including two homeruns in his 4 innings.
Kris Johnson would keep things quiet for the Carp.
The score would be opened by the Dragons in the 3rd inning as hits from Araki and Takahashi put the two on 3rd and 2nd base respectively. Viciedo would then force Luna into an error (his first of the 3 on the night) at third to load the bases. Nanita would then get the chance to put his name in lights, but shorted out a couple of the neon bulbs as he ground out but allowed Araki to score, 0-1. Fujii would then put his best foot forward and forthrightly strikeout to end the inning.
The pain train would be on it's way for the Dragons in the bottom of the third. Johnson and Tanaka were quickly removed by Oguma, but it was the jackrabbit, Kikuchi that hit a single to get on base, this would be the first of many hits for the very in form second baseman. Batting at 3, Maru got the call and quite happily dispatched Oguma into the stands to make the score 2-1.
Luna would fly out to right field to make sure the pain stopped at just 2-1. At least for the time being. A rally from the Dragons would not be forthcoming as despite Donoue profiting from another Luna fumble, the lineup would not be able to make the Dominican pay for his mistake.
More excitement was to come in the 4th, if you are a Carp fan that is, as Brad Eldred decided it was time for another ball to join the fans as he smashed another over the fence to add to the homer he got off Wakamatsu in Kure 2 nights previous.
This would be the inning that would bring the pain. Arai edged closer to his 2000 career hits with a single. Ishihara would later join him, but Johnson striking out would leave only one batter in reserve. This would prove to be more than enough as Tanaka singled to load the bases. Oguma, with his trademark pokerface looked unfazed, but a single from Kikuchi into left field would allow Arai and Tanaka to move home to make it 5-1. The scoring wouldn't stop there as Maru sent home Ishihara to make it 6-1. Thankfully the madness would stop with Luna grounding out.
There wouldn't be a lot of time for a counter-attack thanks from the Dragons as they failed tomake anything count in the top of the 5th before the maraudering Carp went on another blitz, pressing their already sizeable advantage. Two walks to Eldred and Arai forced Tanishige's hand to pull Oguma from the mound as Ogawa went in to relieve. Ogawa would serve up another wallk to load bases. Ishihara would get a dead-ball to see another Carp float to home plate to make it 7-1. Johnson would not offer much help, but singles from Tanaka and Kikuchi put the Carp 9-1 up to beat the already dead horse of the Dragons defense.
The last scoring play of the day would be Amaya sending home Arai to make it 10-1 in the bottom of the 6th. Shell-shocked, the Dragons seemed to give up as the game was taken well away from them. The Carp as well, seemingly happy with 10, played out the rest of the game at a much lower intensity. A clobbering that Chunichi will not be particularly happy with. The 8 runs conceded by Oguma was also a new personal low for the pitcher as he will look to rebuild in his next appearance.
For the masochists in you, here are some highlights:
Two not so great results came out of the trip to Hiroshima but the Dragons will be back home for the weekend against the Tigers.
So far in the aftermath, Ogawa has found himself sent to the seconds after he failed to stem the tide twice in his two appearances. Daisuke Sobue will be into the team to replace him.
With the batters failing to perform in these two games, eyes have been cast to when Ryosuke Hirata will be back but Tanishige is not looking to rush the captain back into the side. There have been suggested that he might be back next weekend against the Swallows, but I'm skeptical.