For the first time in a long time, cautious optimism seeped in as the Dragons took their first road trip to Hiroshima for the season. The Dragons have been in good form and took the first series of the season against the Carp in Nagoya. The Carp have otherwise been in pretty ordinary form despite sweeping the Baystars at home in the previous round of fixtures.
Well, I know now that Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium is cursed. It is the stadium whose name should never be spoken. This place has been a source of nothing but feeling of helplessness the last 3 seasons. It is a blackhole to where only losses for the away team exist. While Jingu frequently induces heart attack and PTSD like trauma, there is nothing quite like the well of hopelessness about Mazda. Anyway, I think you can guess how well the series went.
- Game 20: Dragons 2-3 Carp
- Game 21: Dragons 0-5 Carp
- Game 22: Dragons 0-2 Carp
Top open the series, two-homer day from Ryosuke Hirata would propel Yudai Ono to get through 8 innings work for just 2 runs conceded through a sac-fly and a solo homer in the opening two innings. Enter the 9th and while Shota Nakazaki was able to hold down his end, it was Raidel Martinez who would feel the wrath in a very familiar feeling walk-off loss where, with two outs and bases loaded, Tetsuya Kokubo managed a single to end the game.
Yudai Ono could have quite easily started the 9th with 108 pitches up his sleeve, but it made sense to send out a reliever. Martinez is a good choice in most cases really and it's a shame it didn't work out. This game could have gone either way and it's a shame Ono couldn't pick up the W.
Daisuke Yamai's hoodoo doesn't extend to Mazda and the Carp we found out. He surrendered 4 runs in the opening 3 innings including 3 solo shots to Tsubasa Aizawa, Ryosuke Kikuchi and Hisayoshi Chono. Katsuki Matayoshi would need to clean up 2 innings while Yu Sato and Daisuke Sobue ended what was a disappointing game. The bats never quite got going despite multi-hit games from Kyoda and Abe.
Up against Carp ace, Daiichi Osera, it was always going to be a tough game. The match-up however was kind with Enny Romero throwing down a 6 SO 7IP high quality start to give the Dragons the best chance of avoiding the sweep. The Dragons outhit the Carp 7 to 5 but he line-up never quite connected right as Osera completed a CGSO while the otherwise trustworthy Joely Rodriguez gave up a 2 RBI double in the 8th to Tsubasa Aizawa to end the game.
The first game of the series was the most winnable and the final game had it's moment too but I think Osera pitched well enough to give himself a win. Ono and Romero both had great outings but they unfortunately went unrewarded.