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Monday, April 2, 2018

Opening Series 2018: Swept by the Carp, and you're to blame

A rather maudlin start to the season as for the second time in two years, the Dragons were swept in the opening series ushering in an uncanny, strange deja vu (points for those that get that reference) on fans. We were once again treated to the same only same old at Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium as the Carp continued their spell of dominance deftly deflecting any kind of challenge the Dragons dared to make.

Game 1
Dragons 3 - 6 Carp

Good things: Ogasawara starts, not getting blanked, Yota Kyoda
Bad things: Ogasawara getting shelled, lower line-up ineffective

The Dragons didn't get off to a great start. Ogasawara's two walks in the first inning gave the Carp the first runs off a sac fly, but the Dragons would even it up with a Marty McSacfly of their own through Masato Matsui, surprising everyone in starting over Shota Ono. The Carp would nudge ahead again in the following inning but the Dragons would take a short lived lead in the 6th after Kyoda failed to bunt when Oshima was on second but with two strikes on the board, Kyoda hit a single to even things up. A double play hit into by Viciedo would put the Dragons ahead as Kyoda glided home from third. It wouldn't last however as Kosuke Tanaka of the Carp's double but the Hiroshima side back in front and further misery was piled on Shinnosuke Ogasawara who was withdrawn in the 7th.  Daisuke Sobue and Junki Ito pitched out the game but it was a not so good performance from the team overall.

Game 2
Dragons 2 - 6

Good things: Zoilo homer, Fuku-chan homer, Modasho and 2 bags for Kyoda, Gee debut
Bad things: Gee debut
Dat flip.

Dat swing.

Dillon Gee had a pretty bad introduction to Japanese baseball as he was rocked 5 earned runs in 6 innings. The Dragons actually had the lead in the 3rd through Fukuda's solo shot, but it was to be taken back abruptly in the 4th by Hiroshima as a whole heap of control issue ranging from walks to dead balls saw the Gee give up 4 runs very quickly. Almonte would be responsible for a fumble that cost his team runs but it wouldn't change much as a Maru 2-run homer put the Carp clear at 6-1. Almonte's homer in the 8th was a small consolation, and good on him for getting that monkey off his back, but when you don't even force the Carp to bring out their closer for a save position it's a sad affair. Shinji Tajima and Katsuki Matayoshi however got their first innings of the season both going scoreless.

Game 3

Dragons 3 - 8 Carp

Good things: Dingers, Hiroshi Suzuki's debut
Bad things: Tanimoto's pitching

You'd think in a game where we hit three homers we'd have a decent chance. Well, not when there's no runners in front. Viciedo hit his first and second homers of the season while Hirata also chipped in with his first dong of the season.
Shotaro Kasahara started the game against Daichi Ohsera and looked good to begin with. The lefty pitched 6 innings for 4 earned runs which isn't too bad given his relative inexperience. Keisuke Tanimoto soiled the proverbial however giving up 4 in his one inning of relief. A triple to Mejia, a 2BH to Kikuchi, a walk to Maru and a homer to Eldred racked up 4 earned runs for the former Ham Fighter. Hiroshi Suzuki would however come out of the pen for the first time in his career and pitch out a scoreless frame recording 2 strikeouts and recording a velocity of 155 km/h in the process.
Viciedo swats one into left.
Hirata goes boom.
Overall as series we'll forget real quick. There were some good things to consider but it doesn't spell well for the future if the Carp are still that far ahead of us. At least going into the one day break we have equal top homerun leader (Viciedo) and overall steals leader (Kyoda) so that's something?

It also rounds up a very sad record for the Dragons in Hiroshima who have only won 4 games here since 2016.

Almonte's defence was something to be desired during these three games and on Monday he was put through a grueling training session to help him with his deficiencies. His inability to track on day 1 meant Tanaka scored 2 instead of none and errors fielding for Gee just highlighted a poor glove.

Funny thing to come out of the media is what they should be calling a game where both Viciedo and Almonte hit homeruns in. The suggestion as been "an AV double bang" (rough translation enhanced for innuendo). For those not in the know, AV in Japan is "adult video" so..you know...naked people doing naked things. The club spokesperson has however told the media not to do this and essentially "please think of the children.

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