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Monday, May 20, 2019

Series Wrap: Dragons vs Giants @Nagoya Dome, 17 May - 19 May; Youngster rotation not quite there in well fought series.

The Giants are pretty much the form team of the Central League so far this year and even at home, the Dragons would have their work cut out for them as the shortages of starting pitching gave them a rotation of rookie Akiyoshi Katsuno, third year hurler, Yuya Yanagi and 19 year-old Tatsuya Shimizu. Unfortunately, a series loss but the team battled relatively well throughout.
  • Game 39: Giants 4-1 Dragons
  • Game 40: Giants 5-1 Dragons
  • Game 41: Giants 4-5 Dragons
Game 39
Tsuyoshi Yoda has continued is proactive policy of giving starts to in-form farm arms by giving last year's #3 pick, Akiyoshi Katsuno his debut in a start against former Brewers hurler, Taylor Jungmann. Katsuno, the former Mitsubishi man, showed good form, locating his off-speed low in the zone and otherwise keeping the Giants honest. However, in the 5th inning, a two-base hit from Kazuma Okamoto and a run entering via a ground-out tarnished Katsuno's first professional start with  3 runs taken off what would prove to be his final inning. 

Nobumasa Fukuda's sac-fly in the bottom of the 6th would be the only consolation run as the team weren't able to support the rookie's first start. Half way through the game, Ryosuke Hirata was subbed out for Issei Endo as it was later revealed he was suffering from a strain in his left lower calf muscle. Early reports show that he might be out for a short while. 

Shinji Tajima, Keisuke Tanimoto took 5Ks between them in their relief innings while Toshiya Okada surrendered a run in the 9th in his appearance. Yohei Oshima was the only hitter with a multi-hit game while Yota Kyoda swiped 2 bases. 

Katsuno had a good game for his debut and showed some of what fans hoped of when he was drafted. You can view my draft report on Katsuno here if you want to refamiliarise yourself with him.

Game 40
Yuya Yanagi has a rough start to his game against Christian Mercedes as he surrendered 5 runs in his first 3 innings including a 2-run homer to former team-mate, Alex Guerrero. Yanagi lasted 6 inning taking 6Ks before Ryosuke Oguma and Hiroto Fuku played mop-up to finish the game. Dayan Viciedo's two-base hit to send Oshima home in the bottom of the 8th was the only consolation prize.

Once again the line-up failed to produce but Ryosuke Hirata's replacement, Issei Endo was the only one to get a couple of hits.

Game 41
Tatsuya Shimizu's second pro start would be another good one for the youngster as he threw down another rounded, yet less-controlled, 5 inning start for 2 earned runs.  
The Dragons responded well to the Giants early 2-run lead as Hayato Mizowaki was scored by a Fukuda grounder to short after he hit a lead-off triple.  Mizowaki would once again be at the hear of all things good with the line-up in the 5th as his single was connected to by Fukuda and Oshima who loaded up the bases for Viciedo to stroke a 2RBI single to give the Dragons the lead. Naomichi Donoue's pinch-hit single in the 6th would give his team further breathing room before Kazuma Okamoto claimed one back in the top of the 7th. The cushion was restored in the 9th and Oshima scored Mizowaki off a two-base hit. Enter, Hiroshi Suzuki however and the closer was rocked with a pinch-hit homerun from Giants catcher Takumi Oshiro. Some nervy moments proceeded with hits give to Hayato Sakamoto and Yoshihiro Maru put a runner on first and third, but lovely glovework from Mizowaki at second off Okamoto's bat helped turn a double-play to end the game. 
The final game of the series was truly the Hayato Mizowaki show as the 7th year infielder. Mizowaki previously had a small stint with the top team in 2017 where he hit his first pro-homer before getting injured. He was one of the best position players on the Dragons farm team last year and finally got a good go of things today where he hit 3, walked once and scored 3 times. If he can keep this up, we might well have a successor to Masahiro Araki. Mizowaki grew up with Araki as his idol as they are both from Kyushu and perhaps working the farm with his mentor has finally allowed him to step-up. Here's hoping. It's only one game but I hope he gets plenty of chances.

To add to Mizowaki's modasho Dayan Viciedo picked one of his own while Nobumasa Fukuda and Shuhei Takahashi both had multi-hit games. A relay of Shinji Tajima, Raidel Martinez, Joely Rodriguez and Hiroshi Suzuki closed out the game as the team avoided the sweep in a moral boosting win.

Overall a series that was a good battle but perhaps underscored by the Giants keeping the Dragons hitters off their game.

Farm Watch
On the farm, young Dragons are doing their things. Takuma Achira pitched 3 innings for 6Ks while Kenshin Kakikoshi pitched a pro career high 3 innings in a scoreless outing. Akira Neo too seems to be getting used to thing a bit more as he hit a double off Yoshihisa Naruse.

Daisuke Matsuzaka meanwhile, after being berated for playing golf on a training day, threw 35 pitches as a batting practice pitcher showing his slow return to form as he tries to return to fitness.

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