Apologies for the lack of activity, Dragons fans. I've finally found some time to put up a post.
In regards to the format from here on in, I'm going to freestyle it a little bit. I'm going to go more feature heavy and lessen the pressure on myself to put up daily/weekly match reports. I am however keen to know what my readers want, so please, have a look at this survey and drop me any tips or anything you'd like to see on the blog. More frequent updates are a given, but I'd like to get a better idea of why you visit my website and what you want to see from me in the future.
So let's dive into some of the more interesting news coming out of camp and the world of the Chunichi Dragons.
- Yohei Oshima racked up his 1500th hit against the Swallows on Tuesday making him the fastest in club history to achieve the feat. 70s-80s hit machine, Kenichi Yazawa and Mr Dragons III, Kazuyoshi Tatsunami also achieved the feat in their 11th season, but it is Oshima who leads the pack. In saying that, Yazawa achieved the feat in fewer plate appearances so, I'd argue he's ahead.
Looking deeper into the statistic to see which other notable Dragons passed the 1500 hit mark in their careers, I found that Hirokazu Ibata achieved it in his 13th year while luminaries, Morimichi Takagi and Toshio Naka both achieved the feat in their 14th seasons. Oshima is in very, very, good company!
- Akira Neo is putting more work on the farm and former outfielder and commentator, Yonetoshi Kawabata seems optimistic about what Neo learned at the top team mentioning that Neo appears to be loosening up when swinging causing his body to move more fluidly. Hopefully good signs! Neo has played a variety of positions for the Dragons this year, mostly in outfield, but has often played at second on the farm-team.
- Shinnosuke Ogasawara won his first game of the season on Tuesday against the Swallows in his 2nd start of the year. The occasion was marked also as the first win between he and formal Koshien rival, Yuya Gunji. Gunji and Ogasawara were on opposing sides in the 2015 Koshien final where Ogasawara pitching Tokai Sagamihara High School to the championship against Gunji's Sendai Ikuei.
- Yudai Ono has pitched 3 complete games in a row showing his vintage form. The most recent against the Giants on Sunday marked his second against the Central League leaders. It was also his third, 10-plus-strikeout game of the season. This is the first time in club history that a pitcher has had 3 consecutive, 10K+, complete games. This was the first time in 14 years that a Chunichi starter had 3 consecutive complete games.
Mitsuru Sato in 2006 was the last Dragons pitcher to throw three consecutive complete games in the team's pennant winning year; he ended up throwing 5 to equal the club record held by Hiroshi Gondo (1961) and Katsuhiko Ishikawa (1955).
- Raidel Martinez keeps impressing as he clocked 160km/h on the gun again on Tuesday, the fastest pitch thrown by a Chunichi right-hander in club history. The Cuban fireballer has settled into the closer role after it was vacated by Toshiya Okada in a short-lived experiment to see if another lefty with a handy slider could be the Dragons' "God of Death".
- Due to the flooding rains that have affected Gifu prefecture in recent months, the Dragons will be donating funds to the recovery effort through the sale of player towels. The Dragons have a number of Gifu-natives on their roster with the prefecture falling well within established team.
- Older news, but Ariel Martinez became the first foreign catcher since David "Dingo" Nilsson in 2000, to field behind the plate. We also witnessed one for the rare occasions in NPB history where a foreign pitcher threw to a foreign catcher when Luis Gonzalez took to the mound. Martinez has really added some fire to the catching department with no only his hitting but also his game calling. Yuya Gunji and Takuya Kinoshita as well seem to be benefiting from the stimulation as they've been hitting much better this year too.
- Shuhei Takahashi is hitting .327 in August with a .403 OBP. The captain has been getting on base like a monster and has just slotted in so well at the number 5 position.
- Back to the Cubans, and Yariel Rodriguez is the latest off the production line. His last start was 6 innings of no-hit pitching until he was undone in the 7th. Still, it was to be his victory. With Enny Romero showing no signs of returning, and Luis Gonzalez perhaps not being as effective as hoped, there's been an opportunity for Gonzalez to hop into the rotation and so far, he's not looked out of his depth. He is now one of four Cubans with the club and the third that has graduated from the farm via a development contract. Rodriguez, unlike A-Mart, was a very quick promotion as he only had to toil on the farm for less than 6 months before he was given a fully rostered deal.