The Hiroshima Carp have been somewhat of a bogey side for the Dragons so far this season, and it would be no different in this series as the unappetising fish stated their playoff credentials in a heated 3 battles at the Nagoya dome.
The first game of the series saw Hiroshima’s Toda up against Raul Valdes.
The Dragons would be on top early as the big man from Cuba, Dayan Viciedo, knocked his 12th homer of the season into the stands to claim an early 2-0 lead.
The Carp would however respond in kind in the 4th innings with a 2-run dong from Kokuya to even things up.
Chunichi would however reclaim the lead in the 7th inning as Nomoto, pinch-hitting for Tani, squeezed in a two-base hit to send Katsura home to score to make it 3-2. The Dragons continued to lead going in to the 9th inning but a double given up to the veteran, Arai saw the scores equalled and Fukutani blowing his save. Going into extra innings, Matayoshi was charged with keeping the Carp at bay but after wild pitch brought Nishikawa to 3rd base with 2 outs, a rare Donoue fumble from a Tanaka hit allowed the Carp to take the lead, 3-4. Matayoshi was then withdrawn for Okada, but the lefty couldn’t stop Maru from raking two bases to put the Carp 3 runs to the good at 3-6. The Dragons would attempt to fight back in the bottom of the 10th, but their valiant efforts would be for naught as Nakasaki kept his nerve to close out the game.
A disappointing game that was lost to the relief pitchers. Fukutani continues to show inconsistency and is not the stone-wall closer he has the potential to be just yet. Matayoshi’s 2nd loss of the season is a bit of a worry too as the always reliable one-two punch of he and Tajima has looked a little shakier lately, at least the Matayoshi half has anyway.
On Saturday , the onus was on the Dragons to bounce back after a poor start to the series. Jordan Norberto started things off for Chunichi while Akitake Okada started for the Carp.
Ohshima would be the one to open the scores in the 3rd inning as his hit through centre allowed runners on second and third to come home to score to make it 2-0. The Carp would then strike back through a double from Kikuchi and a single from Suzuki to equalize the scores in the 4th. The Carp the took the lead through a double from Kokuya to put the Carp into a 2-4 lead. Maru extended the Carp lead with a sac-fly in the top of the 7th but single from Nomoto in the bottom of the inning gave the Dragons hope of turning the tide, Subsequent hits from Ohshima and Araki in the same inning evened up the scores at 5-5 to mark a sold Chunichi comeback and in the top of the 8th, Viciedo would seal a great come from behind win with a solo homerun.
Tajima walked away from the game with his first win of the season while Fukutani claimed the save to cap off a wonderful turn-around. Ohshima was the batter to put his name in lights as his 3 RBIs from 2 hits proved to be the most productive results from the line-up. Kei Nomoto made it two RBIs in two against the Carp as a pinch-hitter, proving to be a good option in the “Tatsunami” role.
The final game, a lovely Sunday afternoon in Nagoya would be the decider to see who would grab the series win. Charged with the duties of bringing home the bacon for their sides was Kazuki Yoshimi for the Dragons and Kyouhei Nakamura for the Carp.
Suzuki opened the scored in the 2nd with a 1-run double while Abe added to his good work shortly after with a sac-fly to put the Carp 0-2 up. Araki’s double would get the Dragons going in the 3rd while Ryosuke Hirata put the Dragons into the lead as his hit sent Ohshima and Araki home to score, 3-2. Abe would reply in the top of the 4th as he scored Brad Eldred to even up the scores. Unfortunately for the Dragons and Carp faithful, try as they might, neither side was able to one-up the other even after extra innings. A 3-3 draw was the result on the night, but the Dragons can perhaps consider themselves lucky as the Carp out-hit them by double.
Yoshimi was left searching for his first win of the year while no batter in particular stood out of the marathon 12 innings. Viciedo was however kept very quiet he went 5/0 to end the night with no contribution with the bat whatsoever.
A pretty "ehhhh" series but overall the batting still needs addressing. Yoshimi getting his first one of the year was the highlight along with Viciedo's two dongs. Still, have to take the good with the bad and at least the series wasn't lost.