The start of the 10-day spectacular would be a 3 game series against the Hanshin Tigers at home. The Tigers have been quite honestly awful this year but still have a solid pitching foundation. As has been the case the last few years, this would be a competitive series where ultimately, the Tigers would leave with a series win.
Zoilo Almonte was dropped ahead of the series with Nobumasa Fukuda favoured in left-field and a combination of Enny Romero, Raidel Martinez, Dayan Viciedo and Joely Rodriguez as the designated foreign players on the roster.
- Game 22: Tigers 4-5 Dragons
- Game 23: Tigers 4-2 Dragons
- Game 24: Tigers 2-0 Dragons
Shotaro Kasahara was scheduled to start the Golden Week bonanza but a felt unwell. Yu Sato was brought in as an emergency replacement while Kasahara was lated diagnosed with arrhythmia.
Given the circumstances, Sato performed to expectation giving up 3 earned run in the first inning but surviving through 3IP in total. A 3-run dinger to Viciedo in bottom of the 4th would put the Dragons 4-3 to the good following Oshima's timely RBI single. Toshiki Abe's RBI in the 5th would give just enough of a buffer for the Dragons to survive despite Koji Chikamoto's infield single putting the Tigers within one run. Another bullpen run-out saw Matayoshi pick up the burden of the other half of a start as he pitched 3 innings while Rodriguez, Tanimoto, Martinez and Suzuki closed out the game. Suzuki would claim his 8th save of the season maintaining his lead in the Central League standings.
Batting coach, Takayuki Murakami was apparently behind getting the Dragons into gear to fight back after their 3-run setback early in the game firing them up after getting into Yuki Nishi's apparent lack of respect when he plunked Ryosuke Hirata in the opening of the 4th inning.
Yuya Yanagi would continue his consistent form in game 23 of the season as he pitched 6 innings for 2 ER and 6SO in another quality start. The Dragons would pull equal in the top of the 5th after trading early blows with the Tigers. The lead was surrendered to the opposition in rather embarrassing fashion in the top of the 4th as a very poor execution on a return to second from Takuma Kato allowed Ryutaro Umeno to score. Toshiki Abe would be the saviour to bring thing back to 2-2 in the 5th bit a wayward inning from Shinji Tajima in the 7th followed by some neat batting from the Tigers, too the game away. Hirata and Oshima would both have modasho days while Abe had a muti-hit game.
Takuma Achira would get his first start in 2 years after some confusion about Takumi Yamamoto being called up and being sent down again. Now an organisation veteran, Achira showed great poise through 6IP where the only blemish on his record a second inning homerun given to Yusuke Oyama. The lineup couldn't quite put it together as only Yota Kyoda seemed to get a hand of Koyo "Blue Goat" Aoyagi as the Tigers pitched tossed a CGSO.
Keisuke Tanimoto however marked his 12 game in a row scoreless in a remarkable run of form for a man that looked over the hill last season.
Adding to the sweep by the Carp, this loss series loss hurts as well. There could have quite easily been 3 wins made out of those 5 losses. In the end, it is what it is, and we need to now look forward to taking down the league topping Giants at Tokyo Dome.
In other news, Daisuke Matsuzaka threw 22 pitches in the bullpen yesterday on his road to recovery. Another starter that could make contributions this year, Kodai Umetsu made his pro-debut on the farm yesterday is well in what looked a solid outing where his first pitch clocked in at 148 km/h.