Before we get into the meat, here are the potatoes. Dayan Viciedo claimed the first monthly MVP award over a host of good competitors. Great stuff from the big man.
Following the sweep of the Giants, the Dragons found themselves still in Kanto as they took on the Baystars in Yokohama. A surprise starting berth awaited 2015 #2 draft pick, Yu Sato whom to my knowledge has been mostly used as a long reliever in the 2-gun. Nonetheless, Sato joined the ever changing “starting rotation” to get his first go in the bigs. Moscoso started on the mound for the Baystars to start off the weekly round of games.
The scoring would start early with Hirata sending Ohshima home after a cracking single to draw first blood. DeNA would strike back in the 2nd however as Hirata’s Samurai Japan team-mate, Tsutsugo whacked a solo homer to even things at 1-1.
Hirata would once again pull on his RBI gloves in the third however, powering home Ohshima into score once again to retake the lead, 1-2. A frenetic to and fro would follow but be broken when Nanita and Hernandez got to base, taking advantage following a Donoue sac fly to extend the lead to 1-3. Nanita fortuitously added to the score as a fumble from Kajitani in the outfield allowed what should have been a single to turn into a double allowing Viciedo to score, 1-4. Hernandez went to town on the next pitch as he sent one flying into the stands to record a 2-run homer and blow out the score to 1-6.
Young Tanaka of DeNA was left shellshocked having conceded 3 in very quick succession. The Baystars would leave proceedings with a bit of bite as Shirasaki hit a solo homer to lead off the bottom of the 8th with Tsutsugo nailing his second homer of the night in the 9th to end things at 3-6.
Sato claimed his first professional win on his debut. In fact, he is the first rookie since a certain 18 year old by the name of Kenshin Kawakami to get his first pro win in his first appearance. Hopefully he can go on to emulate the former Braves pitcher. Ohshima was my man of the match however as he scored twice and managed 3 hits in 5 ABs. Has certainly been performing well of late.
Game two of the series would not have quite the highs and lows of the first unfortunately. Daisuke Yamai, still searching for his first win of the season took starting duties today while Kenta Ishida started from the ‘stars.
Scores were opened in the 2nd inning as a Tsutsugo triple was followed by a Lopes sac-fly to open the scores at 1-0. Yamai continued in typical 2016 Yamai style, and in the 5th inning, with the bases loaded, a wild pitch allowed Shirasaki to score to extend the lead to 2-0. Try as they might the Dragons batting line-up just couldn’t find the kick that propelled them against the Giants and the game fizzed out into a 2-0 win for Yokohama. Nanita and Hernandez were kept dead quiet as Ohshima, Hirata, Viciedo and Donoue were the only ones to register hits on the day. Nanita marked an end to his 20 game streak of hits as well.
As for more bad, Daisuke Yamai lost his 10th game in a row as a starter…surely something has to give.
The last game of the series started off slowly but quickly accelerated to provide great entertainment. Yohei Ohshima was the first to get on base after facing 14 pitches where he finally got a walk out of Sunada. An Araki hit and another walk to Hirata followed to load the bases which allowed Viciedo to take control as he hit two home to take the lead for the Dragons, 0-2. A single from Donoue in the same inning took the Dragons to a good early lead, 0-3. The Baystars wouldn’ take it lying down as a double from Kajitani followed by a single from Tsutsugo put DeNA back in contention at 2-3. The scores would remain the same until the 6th Sunada once again loaded up the bases but it was Ohshima to be the main man as his hit to second stranded Wakamatsu, but allowed Donoue to score, 2-4. Araki’s following single would again increase the lead to make it 2-5. It would however be another instant reply from the ‘stars as Otosaka, pinch-hitting for Shirasaki, hit a double to put one on the scorecard, 3-5. Shimozono would then make things even on the night with a 2 run home, 5-5.
It would however end in heartbreak in extra innings for the Dragons as Kuramoto, with bases loaded, hit a single to score Kajitani and claim a walk-off win for the Baystars. A tale of bad luck and a lack of nerve in the final moments for Matayoshi as he gave up 2 hits and 2 walks in the final inning. Yamasaki ended as the winning pitcher for Yokohama having pitched a single inning.
Araki gets the plaudits in the last game with his 4 hits including an RBI. The veteran is in great nick and may well bring up his 2000 hits this season at his current pace.
A series loss against the cellar dwellers coming off a fantastic sweep of the Giants goes to show what the Dragons are made of really. We’re not a dominant team but on our day we’re as good as anyone else. Unfortunately there may not be enough good days this season to see us to the play-offs but on current value there’s more there than there was at the beginning of the season. Injuries to starting pitchers will however be a strong spine to the opening quarter of the season narrative.