The Dragons got swept by the domineering Hiroshima carp away from home at Mazda Zoom-Zoom stadium where we very rarely have a good day in recent years while one win was punctuated by two losses against the Giants in a couple of slightly closer contests.
Dragons 2 - 5 Carp
WP: Yusuke Nomura 7IP 2ER 5SO Abe 3-2
LP: Shota Suzuki 4 2/3IP 1ER 4SO Kyoda 4-3, Viciedo 4-2
A disastrous 5th inning saw the momentum completely sucked away from the visitors as Hirata had put the Dragons in the lead in 4th. An basic catching error on an infield fly from Viciedo on what should have been the 3rd out ballooned into a 5 run massacre where consecutive hits to Arai, Abe and Ishihara made sure that the Carp maintained their excellent record. Masato Matsui would rake an RBI in the 7th but it wasn't enough to help the Dragons rally.
Junki Ito made his first appearance of the season in relief hoping to appeal to Mori that he is good enough to be a starter this season if not a valuable bullpen arm. Mori apparently threatened to trade him in off season, so the Aichi native will be looking to ensure he can make it with the Dragons this year.
Dragons 4 - 7 Carp
WP: Yuta Nakamura 5IP 3ER 3SO Arai 4-3, Abe 5-3
LP: Kazuki Yoshimi 5 1/3IP 4ER 3SO Matsui 2-2, Kyoda 4-2
HR: Arai (4th), Kyoda (5th)
Aizawa (6th), Guerrero (9th)
It was dongers galore as the Carp once again came from behind to take the win over the Dragons on their home turf. RBIs to Hirata and Matsui kept put the Dragons in to an early lead at 2-0 but 2016 MVP, Takahiro Arai's 2-run homer saw the Carp back on terms in the bottom of the 4th.
Yota Kyoda's first professional homer put the Dragons back in the lead but it was to be short lived.
An error from Guerrero at 3rd allowed Tsubasa Aizawa to advance to second while the pinch hitting Amaya, fuelled by another Guerrero fumble, put Aizawa in to level the scores. Maru would put the Carp ahead 4-3 after driving in Amaya. Yoshimi was to be given one more inning to prove himself but a lead-off hit to Abe followed by a steal but the Dragons under pressure where Tsubasa Aizawa leveraged the situation and a Yoshimi pitch into the left stands to put a 3-run cushion between the Carp and reeling Dragons.
Hitoki Iwase would give up one more run to Brad Eldred in the bottom of the 7th, but apart from a consolation fence clearer from Guerrero it was to be another disappointing defeat.
Masato Matsui has surprisingly found himself right back in the midst of the battle to be full-time catcher for the Dragons following his superb work with the bat. His calling from behind the plate still needs more time to assess, but in what I thought was going to be a two horse race from Kinoshita and Sugiyama, a dark horse has arisen to affront the status quo.
Dragons 7 - 8 Carp
WP: Ryan Brasier 1IP 0ER 1SO Aizawa 2-2, Abe 3-2
LP: Takuya Mitsuma 1IP 2ER 0SO Guerrero 4-2, Oshima 5-2
HR: Guerrero (4th), Maru (4th),
The indefatigable Carp line-up was on fire once again as their 14 base hits contributed to 8 runs on the board. While the Dragons were more economic nabbing 7 runs from their 7 total hits, it was the hit-machine Carp line-up that squeezed out a victory. Shuhei Takahashi was quickly added to the team for this game following Guerrero's two errors at third base and he slotted right into the line-up following two grand slams in the past few days with the farm team in the Babe Ruth Cup.
In the 4th inning, the Dragons must have thought they were on their way to breaking their Carp hoodoo after a Viciedo sac-fly and a 3-run homer from Alex Guerrero put the Dragons 4 clear.
A massive bottom of the 4th for the Carp returned all those runs as Maru's solo shot was followed up by RBIs from Aizawa, Nishikawa and Tanaka saw the scores levelled in quick fashion.
The Carp would take the lead in the 6th through Abe's sac-fly but it was the pinch hitting Masataka Iryo getting a two base hit and scoring two that would swing the pendulum back the Dragons way at 5-6 to the visitors.The Carp returned fire immediately through Kosuke Tanaka, but an Oshima double once again put Chunichi in the lead. It would all however come undone in the 8th as the every trusty Takuya Mitsuma was taken the distance by Ryoma Nishikawa to even things up and gave up a double to Takahiro Arai to surrender the lead and a series white wash to the Carp.
A very disappointing series where Chunichi just could not hold onto a lead. The Carp batting line-up when on is indomitable. You cannot out hit this team at the moment. Getting swept is never fantastic, but when the Carp are this good it's hard not to just say, "bugger it," back your bags, and go home.
For the weekend, the Dragons would face off against their biggest rivals, the Yomiuri Giants. The Giants haven't reached the peak of their powers yet, but the dominant nature in which they won the opening series of the season sticks in the memory.
Giants 3 - 2 Dragons
WP: Miles Mikolas 7IP 2ER 5SO Ishikawa 3-2
LP: Raul Valdes 7 1/3IP 3ER 5SO Kamezawa 4-2, Viciedo 4-2
HR: Viciedo (4th)
Raul Valdes opened with another quality start but it wasn't enough to secure his second win of the season. Thanks to Shinnosuke Abe's fumble, the Dragons took the lead in the 1st and a Viciedo solo shot in the 2nd extended their advantage.
Sakamoto would bring the Giants back into the game in the 5th and Yoshiyuki Kamei evened things up in the 8th with runners on first and third. Unfortunately the death blow would come from a brain explosion by Shota Sugiyama's whose misreading of a situation allowed a safety squeeze from Kobayashi to score Casey McGehee and take the lead. Arquimedes Caminero picked up his 9th save of the season to end the game.
Giants 6-1 Dragons
WP: Kazuto Taguchi 7IP 1ER 5SO McGehee 5-4, Chono 5-3
LP: Yudai Ono 5 2/3IP 3ER 6SO Fukuda 1-1
HR: Sakamoto (1st)
Once again the Dragons pitcher got take for a ride as a Casey McGehee masterclass destroyed what little reputation Yudai Ono had left.
Hayato Sakamoto took the lead for the Giants through a solo shot in the first.
Apart from Kyoda RBI in the 4th, it was all one-way traffic as McGehee piled on 3 RBIs to pile on the misery for Dragons fans at their home stadium. The only bright light was the return of left arm hurler Shinnosuke Ogasawara who pitched one inning in relief late in the game to mark his return from an elbow injury that sidelined him in Spring training.
Another game where the Dragons were outmatched 14 hits to 7. McGehee also continue to haunt as he averages .353 with 8 RBIs against the heroes of Nagoya.
Giants 1 - 8 Dragons
WP: Jordan Norberto 7IP 0ER 5SO Viciedo 5-4, Donoue 5-2
LP: Tetsuya Uchiumi 4IP 5ER 3SO Ishikawa 2-2
HR: Guerrero (2nd), Viciedo (4th)
Alex Guerrero and Dayan Viciedo combined homers for the first time as they started showing form that resemble their reputation.
Guerrero's 3-run dinger in the second set the Dragons on their way.
While Viciedo's solo shot in the 4th followed by Kinoshita's double set the boys in blue on a nice pedestal at 5-0.
Viciedo would play a part in swiping in more runs in the 5th and 6th to put the Dragons in an unassailable 8-0 lead. The Giants would get one back against Tajima in the 9th but it would be all for nought as Jordan Norberto picked up his 2nd win of the season ended a 5 game skid and ultimately putting some smiles on a few faces.
Overall not two series to dwell on too much, but the season seems to be getting a bit that way. The good signs are that the Guerrero and Viciedo appear to be getting into a groove with their hitting and we're seeing a much larger contribution from them. Big sad faces for Raul Valdes though who keeps throwing quality stuff but never seems to get a return from the batting line-up when he pitches.