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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Regular Season: Dragons vs Baystars @Hamamatsu & Toyohashi, May 24th & 25th; Regional agony, one Kajitani away from victory

Another series against the Baystars would take place out in the countryside catchments of Hamamatsu in Shizuoka and Toyohashi in eastern Aichi.

Toyohashi Ballpark
Hamamatsu Ballpark

In the first matchup in Hamamatsu, Yu Sato, who got his first win over the ‘Star in the Dragons last visit to Yokohama would be looking to repeat some magic over the experienced Moscoso.

The game would also mark the first call-up for draftee #1 Shinnosuke Ogasawara who has spent most of the season so far starting in the 2-gun. 

Kuramoto would be the first to break the silence in the 2nd inning while Yamashita batted in a second RBI soon after. Lopes struck a single in the 5th to send one home while the Dragons mustered a reply in the bottom of the same through a Tani sac-fly that allowed Issei Endo to come home to score. Viciedo then got on top of a Moscoso pitch to send Araki in to make it 2-3. Now one away from equalizing, Hirata’s double moved the Dragons score past the ‘stars to take the lead at 4-3. Yokohama would however stay toe to toe with the Dragons though as they evened things up in the 5th through a Kuramoto single. Now searching for the decisive winner it would be, who else but Kei Nomoto who popped up with another RBI as a pinch-hitter to give the Dragons a lead in the bottom of the 6th. Yokohama’s Lopes however was having none of it and restored parity in the 7th with a solo homer, 5-6.

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The game’s winning run would come in somewhat cruel circumstances however as a Viciedo fumble from a Kuwahara hit allowed Shirasaki to run in to score and but DeNA in front. The Baystars relievers successfully then put the breaks on the Dragons line-up as they snuffled 6 outs in a row in the final two innings.

Another close loss where the relievers were tested. Ogawa kept things honest after Sato was relieved in the 3rd, but Fuku let one go while Matayoshi arguably threw away the tie with his 2 conceded runs. The reliever was relegated to the 2nd team after the game to think about what he has done and work on getting back to form. Suda was awarded the win for the Baystars on the night while Gifu-born Tomoya Mikami grabbed a hold with Yamasaki claiming his 11th save of the season.

One positive did come out of the game, as Doara completed his back flip to the applause of the fans.

Toyohashi would be the next venue on the road tour. Toyohashi isn’t in itself awfully well known, but one of its favourite sons, a certain Atsushi Fujii, always turns it on when the team visits. Fujii played a decisive role in the last two games played in his home town and particularly shined in the 2014 fixture with a walk-off homerun. Would he be able to do it again? Well, he’d have to do it from the bench with Nanita, Ohshima and Hirata the preferred outfield three.

Takuya Kinoshita would make his debut on the starting roster as the 2015 draft pick got to see what it was like in the big leagues.

Wakamatsu and Ishida would be the starters. Wakamatsu has been the Dragons most successful pitcher this season, but with batters now seemingly more comfortable with the pitcher’s change-up(from what I can see, most batters tend to be waiting for it) he hasn’t had the best run of late.

The catcher Tobashira would be the first to strike as he scored Kuramoto in the top of the 2nd. Kajitani, carrying Yokohama to victory after victory since his return, hit a solo homer into the stands in the 3rd to make it 0-2.

Ishikawa’s double in the 4th would then push the scores to 0-3 as the Dragons struggled to make an impact on the game. A reply would come in the 7th, but not off a Dragons bat, as a wild pitch from Ishida allowed Tetsuya Tani to score and make things a more respectable 1-3. 

Fujii would make his appearance in the 8th, but there would be no hometown magic today as the veteran struck out to end the inning and most hope of a comeback.
Ishida was outstanding

The final nail in the coffin would come in the 9th with Koji Fukutani pitching as Kuwahara launched a solo homer into the stands to make it 1-4 on the night. With the game all but over and done with, Yamasaki was called on and rightfully put the Dragons out of their misery.

Nothing to write home about but certainly the words “there’s no place like home” have a nice ring to them. Only 5 hits were mustered today, barely acceptable, but credit needs to go to the Baystars for pitching well. Wakamatsu took his 3rd consecutive loss totalling 3 losses in all for the season. Something’s not working and I have a feeling he’s going to have to work on another breaking ball if we’re going to see something change. There were rumours he was working on a sinker in off-season but as far as I know we haven’t seen it yet.

Not a great couple of games, but we’re still early in the season. It was just a pity we couldn’t give those fans that can’t come out to watch baseball all that often something happy to go home with. At least they got to see Doara flip successfully twice in a row.

NB: Apologies for having no gifs of the Kuwahara and Kajitani homeruns. I can't find any footage I can lift and the gifs don't seems to exist on nanJ or the other 2-channel baseball forums. The best I can get is this daily wrap-up of homers on NicoNicoDouga. You will need an account to watch it. The Kajtani homerun is at about 7 minutes with Kuwahara's shortly after.

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