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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Series Wrap: Dragons vs Swallows @Nagoya Dome, 10 April - 12 April; Shrewd Dragons sweep sorry Swallows

The Dragons coming off a series victory away to the Tigers would face off against a Swallows team hot off destroying the Giants at Jingu at Nagoya Dome.
Coming into the game news came about that Daisuke Matsuzaka would be spared as start in this series to be replaced by fellow veteran Kazuki Yoshimi who had been tuning up on the farm. The rotation of Yanagi and Garcia remained the same going into what proved to be quite a good series for the Dragons.

Game 10

Swallows 0 - 3 Dragons

Good things: Yanagi showing his ace potential, Almonte RBI getting
Bad things: Line-up being pretty quiet

Both bullpens got a rest as two young starters with star potential played out a wonderful pitching duel both tossing complete games.

Yuya Yanagi pitched a complete game shutout to claim the first of the season in the NPB and the first of his career as a Dragon. The Swallows struggled to find an answer against the former Meiji University captain as they only mustered two hits.

All 3 runs for the Dragons would come in the 3rd inning as Oshima and Almonte batted in the all important runs. But apart from that one little run there was very little else the Dragons could muster against Swallows young star, Juri Hara who himself pitched a complete game albeit having conceded 3 runs.
Ogasawara had a bit of fun with Yanagi to celebrate his CGSO

A great game if you love to watch pitchers. Yanagi took 6 strikeouts and gave up 2 walks in a 111 pitch complete game shutout while Juri Hara got through 8 innings of work with 5 strikeouts and 103 pitches. Two very similar stat lines.

Game 11

Swallows 3 - 8 Dragons

Good things: Pinch-hitter doing their job, Garcia and Almonte's celebration
Bad things: Fukuda's golden sombrero.

Onelki Garcia once again pitched a gem 5 innings with with 4Ks to set up the Dragons win. David Huff for the Swallows as well looked on his way to a no-no before it all fell apart in the bottom of the 5th where the new American signing got rocked by a Chunichi line-up that found it's groove.

Tetsuto Yamada had given the Swallows the lead in the top of the 5th, but with 2 outs and based loaded after walking Takuya Kinoshita, Garcia was replaced by the pinch-hitting Toshiki Abe. The utility infielder found his time to shine as his well placed double drove in 3 runs to give the Dragons the lead. Oshima's following single would drive Abe home, while Kyoda showed the same courtesy to his lead-off companion. At a 1-1 count, Almonte would go yard for a 2-run homer to load up 7 total runs for the Dragons in a demoralizing inning for the Swallows.

The scoring wouldn't stop there as the Tokyo side ran up another two runs off Sobue's pitching, but the buffer would be too great to overcome as Matayoshi, Suzuki and Tajima stopped any further score with Suzuki overcoming a bases loaded jam. Viciedo would find time to bat in another RBI in the 8th to round out the scoring at 8-3.

A game where the Dragons seized their opportunity when they were granted it. One wonders what Swallows manager Ogawa was thinking keeping Huff in for so long, but in the end it was to our benefit. Both Almonte and Garcia were pretty happy with the result.

Game 12

Swallows 4-9 Dragons

Good things: Sweepin', Zoilo dongin'
Bad things: The Swallows pitching

It would be a rematch made out of the 2011 Climax Series as Kazuki Yoshimi took on Shohei Tateyama. The two veterans were both the respective aces of their teams in that 2011 match-up but both have fallen somewhat from that perch. Yoshimi in my opinion has the higher floor and ceiling for that matter, but it's hard to know which Yoshimi will turn up these days.

Tateyama's night would not start off well as after walking the lead-off man, Oshima he proceeded to give up a double to Kyoda and 2-run homer to Zoilo Almonte. The Dominican switch-hitter launched his third homerun of the season into the 5th tier of the stands at Nagoya Dome with estimates of 130m (426 feet) the travelling distance. Truly massive but a beautiful swing to make it happen.
A Viciedo sac-fly would add more pain in the third inning while an Oshima triple in the 4th drove in two more. Oshima's triple marked his 9th consecutive year with a triple. Swallows would pull one back through a grounder but it was once again the Dragons to pile on the runs as the pinch-hitting Fujii drove home Kamezawa while a Kyoda single added in his 2nd RBI of the night. Viciedo's bases on balls with bases loaded would blow out the scoreline to 9-1.

After Yoshimi's quality start, Junki Ito threw down 2 scoreless innings escaping a bases loaded jam in the top of the 8th. 2015 second round pick, Yu Sato got the chance to make his first appearance of the year in the 9th. Sato would give up three runs, but would eventually seal a 9-4 victory and the Dragons first sweep of the year.

Almonte really turned it on in this series with the long-ball and the overall support from the line-up at key moments was a big reason for a good series of victories. Against a better pitching outfit, the Dragons will probably suffer a little bit as the Swallows were quite loose at times, but let's enjoy this feeling while we can! Doraho~!

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