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Friday, May 10, 2019

Series Wrap: Dragons vs Carp @Nagoya Dome, 6 May - 8 May; Magi-Carp flail to victory

The final series of the Golden Week bonanza would take place against the Hiroshima Carp at home. The Dragons would be looking to exact revenge and reassert some dominance at home following the last series away to the Carp. Koji Fukutani would make his first start of his professional career while two of the Dragons most successful starters this year in Yudai Ono and Enny Romero would round out what looked like a winnable series. It should have been.
  • Game 31: Carp 7-2 Dragons
  • Game 32: Carp 0-6 Dragons
  • Game 33: Carp 3-2 Dragons
Game 31
Koji Fukutani was earmarked for a starting roll in the 2017 fall camp. In the 2018 season he saw mostly stints as a mop-up reliever in low pressure situations. Yoda and the gang however have decided to take the starter experiment to the next level culminating in Fukutani's first start since being drafted. 
Fukutani fanned 6 batters through 6IP for only 1ER in a quality start where he showed good velocity on his fast ball keeping it in the high 140's and topping out at 152 km/h. The fastball was his put-away pitch for may of the Carp batters where he also mixed in a variety of sliders and change-ups. 

The Dragons would take the advantage in the 4th through Shuhei Takahashi and a pass-ball from Tomohiro Abe to put two on the board. Yoshitaka Isomura's solo homer, his second of the season and second against the Dragons, would be the only scuff mark on an otherwise great start from Fukutani. Hiroshi Suzuki would unfortunately continue his wobbles in the 9th as he gave up a single to Ryuhei Matsuyama to even the scores. It would all however fall together in one big heap in extra innings with Keisuke Tanimoto. With loaded bases, Ryoma Nishikawa struck a base clearing triple while Tomohiro Abe made up for his earlier gaff with a 2-run homer to send the Carp 7-2 clear. 

On the positive side, Raidel Martinez and Joely Rodriguez set-up the game well with 5 Ks between them in their 2 innings. Run support was unfortunately not enough to help Suzuki through a rough patch. Shuhei did his best with a modasho game while Issei Endo picked up 2 hits. 

Game 32
With Yudai Ono on the mound, one can't help but feel confident this year. It's a weird feeling considering the last couple of years, but I think this is what it feels like to have an ace.

The Dragons made mince meat of the Carp as Ono tossed his 5th quality start and first CGSO of the season. Ono amassed an amazing 13 Ks with only 2 walks and 3 hits to make the Hiroshima Carp looked like stunned mullet. The line-up did their job well as Shuhei Takahashi took the initiative batting in 2 of the Dragons 6 runs while going 5-4 while Dayan Viciedo kept his average healthy going 5-3 with an RBI. Ryosuke Hirata too had fun as he smacked 4 with an RBI to bring his season average to .328. 

Not much more to say. The Dragons showed off one of their most dominating performances in recent years putting the smack down on an inconsistent Carp and on their #2 starter, Yusuke Nomura.

Game 33
Enny Romero would need to overcome a disappointing last outing against the Giants. He would not however have the greatest of starts as he gave up an early run and  2 solo shots to Xavier Batista and Seiya Suzuki to put the Dragons behind the 8-ball early on with Carp ace, Daiichi Osera on the mound.  The home team would peg 2 runs back through Shuhei Takahashi and a grounder from Kosuke Ito. Takuma Kato's heroics behind the plate would keep the game interesting but the Dragons would ultimately fail to muster the runs needed as Osera threw a consecutive complete game against the Dragons.

Romero had probably his worst start of the year and clocked up 99 pitches in 5IP before a relay of Hiroto Fuku, Shinji Tajima, Raidel Martinez, Joely Rodriguez and Hiroshi Suzuki closed out the game scoreless. Martinez continues his ridiculous ability to strike out fools as he took 2 more this game to bring his K/9 up to 10.97 (3rd in Central League for +10IP) which is the highest of any Dragon this year. Ono lurks just behind at 10.72 which is just as if not more impressive. Among the bats Viciedo would have the only multi-hit game as the line-up failed to connect and Osera did the job. 

Overall, this was a winnable series but all it means now is that the Dragons only have 3 wins  in May. Not being swept is admirable I suppose, but there's been an element of bad luck. That being said, good teams win these close games and we haven't been able to.

In other news, ahead of the Ladies Series, an "ikemen" vote has been taken to find the most handsome Dragon on the current roster. Naomichi Donoue was the overwhelming favourite. An understandable pick in my opinion. Shuhei Takahashi and Toshiya Okada rounded out the top 3.

Naomichi has the face the ladies love.
Otherwise, I have been meaning to update on injuries.
As of today the current injury list is as follows:

PlayerInjury Status
Shinnosuke OgasawaraLeft shoulder pain
Daisuke MatsuzakaRight shoulder discomfort
Sho IshikawaRight elbow osteochondritis dissecans
Shotaro KasaharaSuspected arrhythmia
Kento FujishimaPost-blood clot surgery
Taisuke MaruyamaPost-Tommy John surgery
Yusuke Kinoshita Right shoulder pain
Akito OkuraOssification of the thoracic vertebrae
Takuya KinoshitaLeft knee discomfort
Ryota IshiokaRear left thigh pain
Kaname TakinoInner left knee collateral ligament injury

All of the above are on separate training menus with some still resting up. Kento Fujishima has thrown a few pitches recently, as has Matsuzaka. It's a shame to have so many in need of treatment, but the good thing is that the list is getting shorter.

Finally, the starters against the Tigers at Koshien stadium this week have been suspected as Katsuki Matayoshi, Yuya Yanagi and Tatsuya Shimizu. Shimizu is the biggest surprise who is only 19 y/o. One would have thought that Takumi Yamamoto or Akiyoshi Katsuno would have been next in line but Shimizu has pitched exceptionally well so far in his 32.1 IP, with 24 strikeouts and a 2.23 ERA. Katsuno has the next best ERA and IP on the farm while Yamamoto has racked up the innings but sits with a 4.38 ERA for the season,

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