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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Inter-league: Dragons vs Buffaloes @Kyocera Dome, June 7th - 9th; Dragons feast on dodgy Buffalo

Series three of inter-league play took the Dragons back to Osaka to play the talented but inconsistent Orix Buffaloes. It wouldn’t be the first time the Dragons played at the Orix home park as they faced off against the Tigers in the opening series of the season in the same place. Viciedo was on fire in his debut series and hit 3 consecutive homeruns to announce himself in Japan. Would the same ballpark produce the same results?

A few interesting duals among the two teams with old faces on both sides. Former Baystars and Dragons slugger Tony Blanco would be occupying the Orix batting line-up while former Buffalo trainee Taiki Mitsumata would start from the bench for the Dragons.

Game 1 and Shinnosuke Ogasawara was given his 2nd start of his career to see if he could claim his first pro win after he got “Fukutani-ed” in his debut against the Hawks. The Buffaloes would front up with Yuki Nishi who has only claimed 2 wins in this season from 10 starts.

Chunichi would start the scoring in the 2nd inning as consecutive hits from “El Duo del Diablo,” that being Viciedo and Nanita gave Chunichi a chance and it was Fukuda’s sac-fly that saw the scoreboard tick over to 0-1. The Dragons extended their lead in the 3rd with Ohshima hitting an RBI double followed by Viciedo’s base hit to move the score to 0-3. Itoi would pull one back for the Buffaloes in the bottom of the inning while another RBI single in the 4th from Adachi put Orix within one, 2-3. Ogasawara was withdrawn after 5 innings for Daisuke Sobue and the youngster would have to put faith in his relievers again to secure his first win. It was unfortunately not to be as Shinji Tajima, uncharacteristically for this season, gave up a single to Nishino in the 9th to even up the scores and send the game into extra innings.

It would take until the top of the 12th before the Dragons started to beat down on the weary Buffaloes. With bases loaded, Takahito Kudo’s 2 RBI single put the Dragons into a 3-5 lead while Sugiyama’s double drove 3 home to put the boys from Nagoya into an unassailable 3-8 lead. Fuku was given closing duties in the bottom of the 12th and young lefty gave up only one hit as the Dragons claimed the win.

Ogasawara will have trust issues with his bullpen after his last two games, but the youngster played well. Officially, however, the winner was Toshiya Okada who got his 3rd win of the season. 14 hits today from the line-up with a lot of them coming late on. Ohshima, Viciedo, Nomoto and Sugiyama topped the hit charts with two each.

Game 2 would be a much lower key affair with Shunta Wakamatsu and Takahiro Matsuba doing the dance on the mound. Nakajima of the Buffloes bludgeoned a Wakamatsu ball into the stands in the 2nd inning to give the Osaka team the lead.

Viciedo struck back with a solo homer in the 4th, but his 15th homerun of the season wouldn’t help the Dragons to victory as the scores stayed the same at 2-1 to the Buffaloes.

Matsuna fanned 8 bats in his 8 innings showing some good control. He ultimately kept the Dragons to 2 hits the entire game despite 2 errors in the field. Hirano claimed his 12th save of the season as the Buffaloes closer tries to come back to the form that earned him so many plaudits some years ago.

Game 3 would be a good contest with Raul Valdes and Chihiro Kaneko going head to head.

Viciedo wasted no time as he donged his 5th homer in the Kyocera Dome this year in the 1st inning scoring Araki along the way to make it 0-2.

The Buffaloes struck back through a Nishino RBI single in the 3rd but a homerun from Nanita in the 4th put the lead back to two.

Donoue would continue the scoring as he struck an RBI single while Ohshima would follow suit with one of his own. The mayhem continued in the 4th with Araki joining the party to make it 1-6. Viciedo continued to contribute with the bat in the 7th through a sac-fly while Atsushi Fujii’s 2nd solo homer of the season put the Dragons 1-8 up.

In the 8th inning, Valdes would load the bases allowing Itoi to swing and send two home, but the introduction of Ogawa stemmed the tide. Daisuke Sobue was brought in for the 9th and finished up the game, 3-8 in the Dragons favour.

The slap hitters of Ohshima, Araki and Kamezawa claimed two hits each today while Valdes pitched 7 1/3 innings with 3 earned runs, 2 walks and 2 Ks.

A great series for Dragons fans but many will be scratching their heads about the result in the middle given the dominance of the sandwich. Dayan Viciedo showed that he loves playing in the Kyocera dome with his 5th dong in 6 games at the stadium. Ogasawara was perhaps a little unlucky not to claim his maiden win once again but the 18 year old still has plenty of time to break his duck. He looks good so far, just hope we can nurture him right.

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