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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Regular Season: Dragons vs Giants @Nagoya, May 20th – 22nd; Donoue on a winner, Ohshima going to town

After a disappointing romp in Osaka, the Dragons came back to Nagoya for another round of the “Mr Baseball Classic” against the Yomiuri Giants. The Dragons have the better of the record so far in the 6 battles having taken 4 wins a draw and a loss, including a sweep of Giants at the Tokyo Dome.

 Raul Valdes would come up against Giants ace, Tomoyuki Sugano for the start of the series on Friday and both pitchers would keep things awfully quiet. Valdes had a scare in the 5th inning as he loaded up the bases with no outs. The veteran would however keep his nerve as he dismissed Kobayashi, Sugano and Chono in succession. The Cuban would then pitch out a full, scoreless 9-innings, but unluckily for the Dragons, so would Sugano and Mathieson. With the tie locked at 0-0 extra innings were to be relied on to dig out a result and in the 11th inning it would be the Giants to break through as with runners on 2nd and 3rd, Fukutani threw a wild pitch to see the first run of the game. A terrible way to concede. Ohta would then add another to the inning before the chance to counter was given to the Dragons. Sawamura however kept his nerve and made the save to end the game at 0-2 to the Giants.

 This loss made it 3 in a row for the Dragons, and three very close games at that. Araki was the man with the bat today as he hit 3 and Ricardo Nanita contributed with 2. Valdes fanned 11 batters, walking 2 and conceding 8 hits in a remarkable 9 innings where he was very unlucky to not get the win. Scott Mathieson would end the game as winning pitcher, while the loss was handed to Fukutani; his first of the season.

 Game 8 against the Giants this season would prove to be much better reading for Dragons fans. Jordan Norberto, who debuted as a starter the last time the Giants came to Nagoya, would start while Nobutaka Imamura, winless in two against the Dragons, approached the mound for the Yomiuri faithful.

Naomichi Donoue would be the man to get things started as he hit a solo homer into the left stands to get the Dragons underway.

 The Giants replied in kind however through Ohta who hit his second homerun at the Nagoya Dome this season to even things up.

 Luis Cruz then threatened to take the game away as his solo homer into the right stands took the lead for the Giants in the top of the 7th.

 However in the bottom of the same inning, Kei Nomoto would once again make a telling contribution as his sac-fly allowed Hirata to get home to make things 2-2. With bases loaded, Tani took to the task and his single gave the Dragons the lead for the second time of the day. Yamaguchi was now brought in for the Giants, but it was to be too late as a rhythm was found with the bat. Ohshima and Viciedo helped stretch the winning scoreline to 5-2. Fuku now replaced Jordan at the mound and it would be to the advantage of the Giants Shinnosuke Shegenobu hit a single RBI off the youngster. His withdrawal for Fukutani wouldn’t stop Hayato Sakamoto hitting another RBI to move them within a point of equalizing. In the bottom of the 8th though, Atsushi Fujii would help to crush Tokyo hopes as his RBI opened the gap to two again at 6-4. The indomitable Shinji Tajima was tossed the rock to close out the game, and the record holder did his job superbly, keeping the Giants out of the hunt and ending the game with a 6-4 win.

Jordan got his 3rd win of the season as Araki rocketed away with another 3 hits to his name. The Kumamoto native must be looking to get those 2000 career hits this year! The second of the infield pairing, Donoue also made a telling contribution with his homer and a hit.

Taking a moment to talk about Kei Nomoto however, the 31 year old has been in great form as a pinch-hitter as is currently averaging .364. Not bad. Certainly doing what Fukuda and Morino couldn’t do earlier in the season.

Sunday night’s clash would be another good one for the Dragons (and one I had the opportunity to laud over one of my co-workers) as Kazuki Yoshimi went looking for his first win.(I believe I made a mistake in a previous report regarding this, my apologies) while Takagi went in search of his 4th.

 Luis Cruz would be the one to take the leadership role as he steered Chono home to open the scores in the 3rd. It would take until the bottom of the 4th for the Dragons to have their revenge as Ohshima slapped his second homer of the season into the right stand

. Donoue would also help add to the score and get the Dragons in front with his single that allowed Nanita to score. Nanita would then turn provider in the 6th as a poor throw from Garrett Jones allowed Ohshima to score. The mayhem would continue, with Donoue being the root of it, as he hit two home with bases loaded to blow the score out to 5-1.

 That would prove to be enough for the Dragons to get their win as Hiroto Fuku closed out the game to secure Chunichi’s 6th win against the Giants this season. If only we could play them every week! Yoshimi claimed his first win of the season (apologies for claiming this in an earlier game, I was wrong) while Donoue’s 3 RBIs solidified his growing status among Dragons fans as the man for the short-stop role and lower-order hitter.

 Two great wins strung together to overcome the 3 straight (but close) losses. A great compliment to the team and well, it’s always good to beat the Giants in any case. I worl in Tokyo and it’s always nice to be able to gloat a little in the office.

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