Drop Down

Monday, April 8, 2019

Series Wrap: Dragons vs Swallows @Meiji Jingu Ballpark, 5 April - 7 April; A series of if, buts and shoulder slumps

On the road to the Swallows, the Dragons had the chance to be above .500 for the first time in over 3 years. The Swallows have done okay this season and if you look at the last couple of years of duels between the teams, it's nothing for the faint hearted, this was to prove to be the case once again.

The Swallows scraped a series win over the Dragons in a series Chunichi could have swept had some key moments gone their way. That is the way of things at Jingu.

  • Game 7: Dragons 7 - 8 Swallows
  • Game 8: Dragons 3 - 4 Swallows
  • Game 9: Dragons 3 - 1 Swallows

Shotaro Kasahara couldn't handle the heat of the Jingu kitchen in the first game of the series as he issued 5 walks and 4 hits for 3 earned runs over 3 nervous innings. The Dragons line-up did answer the call somewhat banging in 2 more at the top of 3rd to give them a 2-run cushion through Viciedo's second homer of the season.
The Swallows would get right back into with taking 3 runs off Katsuki Matayoshi in the bottom of the 5th to even things up. The Dragons would take the lead once more in the 7th from a Viciedo single but a hazardous 8th inning from Daisuke Sobue spelled the end of things as he gave up what would be the winning runs to Naomichi Nishiura. The Dragons would get a chance to get themselves back in the game with one out and runners on 2nd and 3rd but Viciedo and Fukuda were unable to convert to end a frustrating game. Shuhei had a quiet yet productive game reaping a modasho but it wasn't to be enough to quite pull his team over the line.

Game 8 was a battle between two of the oldest pitchers on the circuit, Daisuke Yamai and Masanori Ishikawa. It was to be a grittier battle than expected. Viciedo was the man of the moment stroking home 2 of the Dragons 3 RBIs, while Zoilo Almonte marked his first hit of the season with a just-about-clearing-the-fence homerun in the 7th.
The game would go into extras and the Dragons had their chance to win the game in the top of the 12th with once again a perfect chance to capitalise with 1 out and bases loaded only for pinch-hitting Kyohei Kamezawa to hit into a double-play. As is tradition at Jingu, the comeback would be on the for the home team as a pinch-hitting Nori Aoki swung for the fences with 2 outs on the board to spell the end of the game.

My reaction on Twitter appeared to sum up many's frustrations.

Game 9 was to be all about Yuya Yanagi who pitched a great 8 inning spell at one of his old stomping grounds. Jingu was where Yanagi and his Meiji University team-mates raised the Japanese Collegiate Baseball championship in 2016, and it was to be a memorable game for the former Meiji captain as he threw 4 strikeouts for one earned run. Hiroshi Suzuki would mop up for his 2nd save of the year while the damage with the bat was done by Zoilo Almonte's 2nd homer in as many games and Naomichi Donoue's 1st. Hirata would get claim a multi-hit game in a relative straight forward victory.
A frustrating series, but as has been how it goes with the Swallows over the past few seasons. A morale boosting win for Yanagi on Sunday however I think spells good things going forward at least. 

In the fallout, both Daisuke Yamai and Kazuki Yoshimi were de-registered over the course of the series which makes met think they may be swapping around the starting order a little bit. I think we can expect Romero to start in place of Yoshimi in the next series with either Yoshimi probably taking the 6th spot in the rotation. We'll be at Nagoya Dome next series against the Giants, so that makes sense to me. Where Yamai ends up is anyone's best guess, but he's done well so far so happy to let him have a few more trips through the rotation.

Some news has also come to the fore about bullpen roles which I found interesting. First of all, many are probably wondering where last year's last-half outstanding reliever, Yu Sato has gone. I've been wondering the same thing however it seems that Sato has been judged to perform badly when in high leverage situations, and has been designated to pitch in blow-outs whether losing or winning. I thought he was better than that, but that's the role he has been given thus far. The other situation specific reliever is Keisuke Tanimoto. He's been rolled out for a an inning here or a batter there. His role is as the team's fireman. He comes in with runners on base to help the team out of a jam. If Sato is lowest leverage, Tanimoto is just about the highest. So far he's performed well in his role too which is a big improvement on last year.
Apart from that, it's obvious that Suzuki remains the 9th inning guy, Joely Rodriguez is a set-upper and it seems Daisuke Sobue has been mostly used in a set-up role too along with Matayoshi and/or Tajima. 

No comments:

Post a Comment