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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Daily Update: Dragons v Giants @Nagoya Dome, 19th July; Mr McGehee strikes again

Dragons 5-6 Giants

WP: Shoichiro Hatake 7 1/3IP 2ER 6SO            McGehee 5-5 1HR, 2RBI
LP: Yudai Ono 6IP 5ER 5SO                             Araki 4-2, 2RBI

The Dragons fought back to within a whisker of winning this but the only thing that was taken away from the game was a darkening pessimism over Yudai Ono's future.

Ono started his first game after the All-Star break by loading up the bases in the first inning. Shinnosuke Abe's sac-fly allowed McGehee to score, while off-season FA acquisition Dai-Kang Yang went yard knocking in a 3-run homer to put the Giants 4-0 up in the blink of an eye.
Hatake, the 2nd pick rookie at the 2016 draft, kept the Dragons quiet until Casey McGehee took his 3rd hit of the night in only the 4th inning through a stunning solo homer nailed into the left stands off Ono.
The Dragons looked down and out by the 8th inning as McGehee once again raked an RBI to make it 6-0 and claim his 5th hit from 5, but little were we to know that a comeback was around the corner. 
With Canadian Scott Mathieson on the mound for the Giants, the pinch-hitting Tani's single followed by Kyoda's double put two runners in scoring position with Araki up to bat. The veteran duly obliged his colleagues as his single was enough to score Tani and the fleet-footed Kyoda. Hits to Oshima and Guerrero would load up the bases but both Viciedo and Fujii failed to take profit from Mathieson's mistakes falling to end the inning. 

Koji Fukutani would take out the 9th for the Dragons and Arquimedes Caminero was called up by Yomiuri. Caminero would give up consecutive hits to Fukuda and Matsui before Tani found himself once more in the midst of the action as his RBI single put the Dragons to 3-6. Naomichi Donoue would rake 2 more RBIs in the 9th before Caminero was helped out of a jam by a Guerrero strikeout and an over optimistic run for third base by recent call-up and pinch-runner Taiki Mitsumata to end the inning.

What we learned from this game is that Ono isn't the same pitcher he was two years ago. He's not even the same pitcher he was last year. Something is going wrong and he needs to get some very special guidance to get out of his funk. We also learned that Casey McGehee loves facing us (averaging .386 with 12 RBIs) and that the team can show a bit of heart to make a comeback. Viciedo's inability to convert in a clutch situation is very worrying however as this is what we really need him to be able to do. I'll still allow him to attribute to blowing out some cobwebs, but if he wants to stay up, he's going to have to start doing more.

In other news, Kyohei Kamezawa has come down with a knee injury after Tuesday's game. He has since been deregged which is why we saw Taiki Mitsumata tonight.

On the farm, Daisuke Yamai got lit up again after giving up 5 runs in his second inning to the Carp. Jorge Rondon joined in the dumpster fire giving up 6. Neither are likely to see the light of the first team again this season in all likelihood. Yamai has already been seen tutoring younger pitchers on the farm and has reportedly taken Kento Fujishima under his wing.

Friday's slated pitchers for possibly another gory trip to Mazda Stadium are lefties Kris Johnson and Raul Valdes.

Daily Update: Dragons v Giants @Nagoya Dome, 18th July; Double dingers on the back of Yoshimi QS

Dragons 6 - 1 Giants

WP: Kazuki Yoshimi 6 2/3IP 1ER 3SO                         Fukuda 4-2, 2RBI, 1RHR
LP: Hayato Takagi 4 2/3IP 1ER 3SO                             Chono 3-2, 1BB

Before the game even started there was big news as slated Giants starting pitcher, Shun Yamaguchi was pulled after apparently going on a bender the previous week and picking a fight with a security guard which had apparently only just come to light. The former Yokohama pitcher who moved as a FA to the Giants this season, apparently injured his shoulder in the scuffle which scuttled his start and has put him in trouble with just about everyone concerned.

Hayato Takagi was hastened into an emergency start (or maybe it was planned all along?) and the Dragons took advantage of the momentum that swung their way. Kamezawa got the rub on a error from Seiji Kobayashi advancing to second while Yota Kyoda ran into score. Masato Matsui would return the favour to the Giants in the bottom of the inning as his fumble allowed Takagi to score.
The Dragons would soon again be in the ascendance however as Nobumasa Fukuda went yard for his second homer of the year.
Alex Guerrero would become bash brothers with Fukuda as he too threw his bat at an errant pitch to great effect scoring Oshima in the process for a 2-run homer, his 24th of the season.
The Dragons would continue to add insult to injury in the 8th inning as Oshima scored on a Vicedo groundout while Fukuda chipped in with another double base hit to put the Dragons in cruise control at 6-1. 

A great win for the Dragons on the back of a bad defeat. Yoshimi gets his second win of the year after pitching a good game while the bullpen had a decent run our as well. Hitoki Iwase in this game equalled another Aichi native and legend Masaichi Kaneda's record for appearances on the mound at 944. Iwase only has six more appearances to go to break the all-time record. 

Tomorrow's game will be a match up between Yudai Ono and Giants rookie Seisho Hatake. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Daily Update: Dragons v Giants @Nagoya Dome, 17th July; Ogasawara, where for art thou?

Dragons 1 - 5 Giants

WP: Miles Mikolas 7IP 1ER 6SO                           McGehee 4-2 2DBLs
LP: Shinnosuke Ogasawara 5 1/3IP 4ER 4SO        Kamezawa 4-2

Shinnosuke Ogasawara lost his 3rd in a row to hand a resurgent Giants a 5-1 win in Tokyo while Dayan Viciedo made his long awaited return to the team following a lengthy absence for his US citizenship application.

Hisashi Chono set the tone with a lead-off home run, his 9th of the year,  to immediately put pressure on the Dragons batting line-up.
The Giants would then go 3 up in the 6th after a Miles Mikolas' hit sent two runners homes after Ogasawara completely lost all command of his weaponry to load the bases with 3 consecutive walks. The Dragons would hit back in the bottom of the inning through a small rally of Kamezawa, Oshima and Guerrero which saw the Cuban slugger notch his only RBI and hit of the game. Junki Ito would surrender the last run of the game to Shinnosuke Abe whose single sent in the pinch-running Tateoka to score. Yuya Yanagi threw one inning of relief otherwise to blow off some ASG cobwebs while Koji Fukutani made a rare appearance in the 9th inning keeping things scoreless.

A disappointing loss but it is hard to ignore the trend following Ogasawara's starts. The 19 year old has bulked up a lot this year, but the command just isn't there at the moment. A tune-up on the farm might be around the corner. Viciedo went 4-0 (sometimes called a tako in Japanese) to mark a pretty disappointing return. One can only think he is a bit under cooked. He also played a full game on the farm in the afternoon which possibly wasn't the best preparation ever.

Other news: In a bit of fun for "Araki Day" at the Nagoya dome to celebrate the second baseman's 2000 hits, the team trained in #2 Araki jerseys. Before the game, the team combined with the Giants to collect aid money for flood disaster relief in northern Kyushu, a common event when disasters strike.

Tomorrow's starters are Shun Yamaguchi, the FA man the Dragons were after in the off-season and the returned Kazuki Yoshimi.

Daily Update: NPB All-Star Game @ZoZo Marines Stadium, 15th July; A very Pacific sweep

Plenty of premier talent was once again on display this time in Chiba as the Central League team went in looking to keep the series level. Only two Dragons appeared in this game with Guerrero starting in left-field and Oshima coming on later in the game to replace his team-mate.

Home Run Derby

Unlike the US, as you may have noticed, Japan likes to do everything twice. This time the homerun derby would feature all the same participants with the exception of Guerrero being replaced by Seiya Suzuki.

Tsutsugo would beat out Shohei Otani with 4 bombs to Otani's 2, while Yuki Yanagita went through after equalling Suzuki's single homer with 4 balls left to go.

The final was this time Tsutsugo against Yanagita but it was to the Hawks man that would prevail for the second time hitting two dingers from his 10 balls to Tsutsugo's single. All in all, Guerrero would have given Yanagita a better run for his money, but hey, can't blame the fans for wanting to see Suzuki.

All-Star Game #2 in Chiba

WP: Manabu Mima (Eagles) 2IP 0ER 3SO              Despaigne (Hawks) 4-3, 1 HR 1 RBI
LP: Shoichi Ino (Stars) 2IP 0ER 1SO                       Kobayashi (Giants) 3-2, 1 HR 1 RBI

Starting pitchers Tomoyuki Sugano and Takayuki Norimoto represented the best that either league has to offer in starting pitchers this season. Both pitcher claimed 3 strikeouts a piece in their 2 innings. It was to be the Central that would strike first as the Giants catcher Seiji Kobayashi cleared the fences with a solo effort. 

His effort would however be cancelled out by former Chiba slugger, Alfredo Despaigne as his solo dinger evened up the scores in the 4th.

 In the 5th the Pacific would take the lead as a lead-off triple to Daiichi Suzuki of the Marines allowed Shogo Akiyama to knock him home to make it 2-1. It would be the Chiba captain Suzuki once more to haunt the Central League as his solo homer off Yasuhiro Ogawa in the 7th claimed another win for his team. 

Alfredo Despaigne was given the MVP and 3,000,000 yen for the evening for his equalising solo homer and 3 hits overall while Suzuki, Akiyama and Kobayashi were also awarded 1,000,000 yen for their contributions on the night.

Neither Oshima or Guerrero registered a hit tonight but we can be proud that two we have seen 4 Dragons players make appearances this year. Considering most years we usually only send about two players. 

Now that the first half is officially over, the Dragons play the Giants where Shinnosuke Ogasawara will be looking to keep his record against the Tokyo team untarnished. Yudai Ono and a returned Kazuki Yoshimi are slated for the other two starts in the series.

Dayan Viciedo also looks like he'll be returning to the team, as of yet however he hasn't been officially added to the roster.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Daily Update: NPB All-Star Game @Nagoya Dome, 14th July; Pacifically speaking...

Homerun Derby

Well, going over everyone will take time, so let's just go with Guerrero. 
Alex beat out the holder Shohei Otani in the first round as he hit 2 homers to Otani's one. The rules are a bit different in Japan where the players each get 10 balls to slug as many homers as they can get. Interesting little side note, you'll see that Casey McGehee is providing the throw downs for Guerrero.

Guerrero would then take on Yuki Yanagita of the Hawk to decide the winner. I'm not sure exactly what happened here, but Guerrero got 4 homers from his alotted 10 but Yanagita had 4 in 7 balls and I believe the win was ultimately given to him because he got there faster. Anyway, great achievement for Guerrero to make the final, but Yanagita has been on fire this year. He picks up his first derby win.

The All-Star Game #1

WP: Taisuke Yamaoka (Orix) 2IP 1ER 1SO                     Nishikawa 2-2, 2RHR, 2RBI       
LP: Marcos Mateo (Hanshin) 1IP 3ER 2SO                      Tsutsugo 3-1 1HR, 1RBI

It was to be the Pacific League boys to come out on top of the Central League as they mashed their way to victory slugging home 3 homeruns including a game winning 2-run homer from Haruki Nishikawa. 

The Pacific took the lead through Shogo Akiyama's lead-off solo homer of Raul Valdes. The Central would be back in the hunt however in the 4th as Yoshitomo Tsutsugo teed off against Seibu ace, Yusei Kikuchi. The Central would take the lead in the 6th through a Guerrero double but it was to be the Pacific who would have the last laugh as Fighters duo Sho Nakata and Haruki Nishikawa added 3RBI through their fence clearning heroics while Hawks duo Seiichi Uchikawa and Alfredo Despaigne added the extra runs to make it a clear victory for the Pacific League representatives. 

Raul Valdes struck out Otani as his highlight for the game, while Katsuki Matayoshi struck out two and gave up a run in his one inning of relief. Guerrero made a steady contribution with his RBI double while Yohei Oshima got on the board with a hit in his two plate appearances. 

Not the greatest result for the Dragons involved nor the Central League itself but these things happen.

Chiba awaits tomorrow and we'll see how many Dragons will get a run out. Another HR derby will be had, but this time Carp's Seiya Suzuki will be mashing with Tsutsugo to represent the Central League. Fully otherwise expect to see Tomoyuki Sugano on the mound to start for Central while Matayoshi and Valdes may not see any more time in this series. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Daily Update: Fresh All-Stars (Western League v Eastern League) @Kusanagi , 13th July; Kasahara whiffs 3

For those unfamiliar with the farm system in Japan unlike the NPB, the two farm leagues are split in Eastern and Western conferences with the line being drawn at Nagoya. Any team West of Nagoya is part of the "Western League" any team east of it is part of the "Eastern League." 

Once a year there is an All-Star game for the farm teams held usually in a regional ground. This is more or less like the MLB Futures game and it's a way to showcase new talent. However, due to there not being as much depth to the farm systems in Japan as there are in the US, you don't always get the best farm-team players per se, but usually the best rookies or the blokes that haven't played in the game before. 

This year the representative from the Dragons were Shotaro Kasahara, Taisuke Maruyama, Hiroki Kondo and Ryota Ishioka. All four of the players have been involved with the first team at some stage this year and Kasahara only recently put in an innings worth of relief against the Tigers but this doesn't really matter as none of them have competed in the game before and there all Chunichi representatives. Masami Ishigaki, the high school rookie infielder was meant to play in place of Kondo, but due to a wild pitch from Shintaro Fujinami earlier in the month the copped him in the head, he was stood down from duty. 

SP: Taiki Ono (Tigers) 1IP 0ER 1SO       Kaisei Sone (Hawks) 3-2
SP: Tatsuya Imai (Lions) 1IP 0ER 0SO

For the first time in history the game ended in a 0-0 tie. Both sides only had 4 hits a piece and we saw a lot of different pitchers. Unfortunately there weren't a lot of highlights for this one so I'll just run down what the Chunichi boys did.

Ishioka and Kondo started in the line-up both in the outfield but only the latter was able to make contact. Kondo went 3-1 on the night while Ishioka was withdrawn after two hitless at-bats.

Taisuke Maruyama pitched the 3rd inning and gave up a hit but it was to be Shotaro Kasahara who would prove to be one of the most impressive whiffing 3 batters and giving up one hit in the 4th inning.
Seibu's Suzuki the first to fall.

Fighters' Moryama get punched out

DeNA's Sano goes down for the third.
The Western League all-stars on a whole struck out more but it was a very even game where neither team really created enough of the chances they were afforded. Kaisei Sone of the Hawks with his two hits captured the MVP award for the game.

Tonight and tomorrow we have the real deal, the NPB All-Stars games with Raul Valdes starting on the mound tonight in front of the home crowd. Kodai Senga of the Hawks will start of the Pacific League.

In other news, Dayan Viciedo has finally returned from the United States having completed his citizenship processing. He is hoping to be back for the series against the Giants starting on Monday. Whether or not the team will let him is another thing. Jordan Norberto however has been in the mean time be de-registered from the first team with media sources suggesting that Kazuki Yoshimi will be coming up to replace him. 

Shigekazu Mori has gotten solid backing from the Chunichi owner, Bungo Shirai as the businessman has been very happy with what Mori has done with the team so far. Shirai has said that he would like to see the Dragons finish in the top 3 this season. Mori has said that his first objective is hitting .500 which he thinks would see the Dragons well into the fight for a playoff spot. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Daily Update: Dragons v Tigers @Koshien, 12th July; Valdes start, bullpen loss.

Dragons 4-5 Tigers

WP: Rafael Dolis 1IP 0ER 0SO                                     Yamato 4-3, 4RBI
LP: Katsuki Matayoshi 1IP 1ER 1SO                            Alex Guerrero 4-2, 2RBI, 1HR

It was to be a game where the Dragons lost everything late in the game despite looking very good to start proceedings.

Alex Guerrero teed off in the 1st against Akiyama to notch a 2-run homer. His 23rd of the year and only the 5th that's registered more than one RBI.

Yamato's timely double in the in the second allowed Oyama to scuttle home. At the top of the 6th, Yota Kyoda would get on first and be helped along by a Kamezawa safety bunt. With the king of average with RISP at the plate, Yohei Oshima, and the Yota "Flash Gordon" Kyoda on second, an added run seemed a foregone conclusion, but Oshima helped Kyoda to save his legs by knocking in his 2nd homer of the year.
That was not to be all she wrote however as in the bottom of inning Nakatani and Yamato helped get the Tigers back on level terms in a 4-hit, 1 walk inning for Valdes.

Hitoki Iwase would do his thing and hold on in the 7th but Katsuki Matayoshi with 2 outs on the board gave up the game winning RBI to "Battleship" Yamato in the 8th. 
Left with little recourse, the Dragons were unable to get past Rafael Dolis to grasp a better result.

Two fairly disappointing games. Valdes hasn't been the same since he was lit up earlier in the year and sent down to the farm. This is particularly a shame when you consider he's going to the All-Star games on Friday and Saturday. The bats didn't produce quite enough either going down 6 hits to 10 today, but the pop was there today where it wasn't so much yesterday. 

Our next game won't be until the 17th against the Giants as we have the aforementioned All-Star game. I will cover both games in the similar report form that I do here. Yohei Oshima, Alex Guerrero, Raul Valdes and Katsuki Matayoshi are our participants this year. Guerrero will be participating in the home-run derby on Friday in Nagoya while Seiya Suzuki will take his place in Chiba on Saturday. 

In other news, owner Bungo Shirai has ordered the club go after Waseda Jikkyo slugger, Kotaro Kiyomiya at all costs in this years draft. He seems convinced that the capture of the 1st baseman currently receiving national attention would change the complexion of the team and more importantly bring in more spectators to Nagoya Dome. Kiyomiya has slugged over 100 homeruns in his high school career (including practice games) and is slated to be the number 1 pick for the majority of teams. Whether or not the high schooler will choose to go to the draft is still a matter of debate as he may go straight to college instead. With our heads scout Tsuneo Tanaka keen on Kiyomiya as well it seems like we already know who's going to be our first round pick. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Daily Update: Dragons v Tigers @Kurashiki, 11th July; I am Uemoto, destroyer of worlds

Dragons 1 - 10 Tigers

WP: Randy Messenger 7IP 1ER 6SO                              Uemoto 4-4. 3 RBI, 1HR    
LP: Jordan Norberto 3IP 3ER 1SO                                  Guerrero 4-2, 1 RBI

Both teams went ham on each other's pitching but it was the Tigers that took the initiative slamming home 10 runs to the Dragons one in Kurashiki, Okayama.

The Dragons took an early lead in the first through Alex Guerrero scoring Kyohei Kamezawa but a dubious balk call on Jordan in the bottom of the next inning put the Tigers on level terms. The call may well have thrown Jordan off as he then surrendered 2 homeruns in his third and final inning. One to Hiroki Uemoto, the star of the day, and 2-run homer to former Dragon Kosuke Fukudome.

The Dominican southpaw was withdrawn for Shota Suzuki who was enlisted for emergency long relief duties. The young starter had a torrid time however as he did worse than his rotation partner giving up 5 earned runs over his two innings including giving up an RBI double to Messenger. With the Tigers well and truly in the ascendancy, the Dragons gave the bullpen a run out with rookie Shotaro Kasahara continuing his scoreless streak with zero earned runs in 4 appearances. While Koji Fukutani and Ryuya Ogawa closed out.

The Dragons just didn't have it in them today. Although they managed 10 hits, there was no connection to turn them in to runs. One hopes the slated return of Dayan Viciedo in 2 weeks time will help improve things, but the team has suffered a bit recently.

Tomorrow the team lines up against the Tigers once again with Raul Valdes taking the mound despite being selected for the All-Stars games on Friday and Saturday. He'll be up against Takumi Akiyama at Koshien.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Writers Update and Apologies

Dear Readers,

I know you come here for fresh, up to date information on the Chunichi Dragons in English. I know that there comes an expectation when someone puts effort into producing something regularly and I'm sorry I haven't be able to keep up. As you may have picked up from earlier in the year my updates were getting less and less frequent as I kept falling behind. The fact is that this blog is a hobby of mine and whilst I love doing it, there are several other things that take priority in my life.  I desperately want to continue doing what I  love here and I am looking into more time efficient ways I can keep this blog updated regularly. One option I am exploring is daily updates given I can probably devote 1 hour a day to the blog, but not 3 hours in one day to do a weekly recap. This is something I will try to do.

I am also unhappy that I haven't been able to give you more than just match reports this year. There is much, much more I want to explore with you about the Dragons. I have had plans to do features on what I consider the Dragons best ever 12 along with the best ever foreign 12 but this is a plan I've continually had to shelf due to my work and family commitments. Perhaps this is something I can consider in the off-season.

In any case. I do apologise for not giving any notice up until this point. The blog has been inactive since the start of interleague. I don't like to leave gaps, but I think at this stage I have to consider that I've lagged too far behind now to catch up. My plan now is to attempt daily updates in a concise form starting from Tuesday the 11th. There's only a few games during that week due to the All-Star break so it might be a good way to test the waters. I will also endeavour to cover the All-Star games and if possible give a run down of how our first year players are doing and what the general state of the team is.

Some of you may have noticed that I am still pretty active on Twitter @chunichisoul and I have also done some updates with a Facebook page I set up, albeit not too much recently.

I once again apologise for my inconsistency as this is something that happened last year as well, but I will endeavour to find a sustainable way to keep this blog going and updated on a regular basis. For the time being, please follow me on Twitter as it is a simple way I can keep you up to date with Chunichi stats and news.

Thank you all for your understanding,