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Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Series Wrap: Dragons vs Eagles @Nagoya Dome, 7 June - 9 June; Dragons fail to escape from Eagles' talons

The Rakuten Golden Eagles have been on a decent run of form this year despite the loss of ace, Takahiro Norimoto to injury early on this year. Rakuten aren't quite as formidable as many of the other Pacific League teams in general, but having to face up to Hideto Asamura, Jabari Blaish and Takayuki Kishi is not an easy task in any case. They are leading the Pacific League for a reason.

The Dragons were able to take the first game on the back of some 1-run Yuya Yanagi pitching and an explosive performance from the line-up, but unfortunately the line-up used up all it's alotted runs in the first game to end a series of what should have been in a familiar tale of losing my small margins.

  • Game 55: Eagles 3-13 Dragons 
  • Game 56: Eagles 2-1  Dragons
  • Game 57: Eagles 5-2 Dragons
Game 55

The Dragons scored in every inning this game as they gave the Eagles hell to pay. The main highlight of the game came from Atsushi Fujii as he hit a 3-run jack in the bottom of the second inning in his second plate appearance with the top team this year.
Dayan Viciedo was the best of the batters as he claimed a modasho and 2 RBIs while Fujii went 4-2 with 3 RBI, and Shingo Takeyama chipped in with 3-2 and 2 RBI. On the mound, Yanagi threw down 7 innings including 5 strikeouts in a professional outing while Hiroto Fuku and Shinji Tajima both gave a run up each closing out the game. 

Game 56

Takayuki Kishi would shut-down the Dragons in the next game of the series as he pitched 7 , 1-run innings backed up by former major leaguer Alan Busenitz and Yuki Matsui out of the pen. 

Enny Romero would start the game and would give up his first run of the game through a Yuya Ogo grounder after the bases had been loaded by a dead ball. The Dragons would even things up in the 6th through a Shuhei Takahashi infield single but a suicide squeeze pulled off by Ogo once again would prove to be the winning run in the top of the 7th as the Rakuten pen shut down the rest of the game. 

Romero took an NPB career best 10Ks in this game but was on the unfortunate end of some tactful small ball baseball. A combination of Toshiya Okada, Keisuke Tanimoto and Raidel Martinez finished the game for the Dragons who claimed 12Ks in all for what was not a bad pitching performance. 

With the bats Shuhei Takahashi was the only man to get 2-hits or more and also the only one to claim an RBI. Yohei Oshima otherwise claimed his 16th steal of the season.

Game 57

Tatsuya Shimizu would be found out of his depth as the Eagles took to him in the 3rd inning as Hideto Asamura and Jabari Blaish put up 3 runs. Shuhei Takahashi would claim one back for the home team in the 4th through a double but the Eagles would immediately reply with a loaded bases single from Ginji and a walk from 2018 Draft 1st pick outfielder, Ryosuke Tatsumi. Masataka Iryo would at least make the Eagles bring out their closer as he scored Taiki Mitusmata in the bottom of the 7th, but that would be all she wrote for the Dragons as the stonewall of Alan Busenitz and Yuki Matsui once again kept the team out from a come back. 

Tatsuya Shimizu got rocked for 5 runs; a performance that showed he is still a raw, 19 year old talent. The bullpen otherwise put up a decent perforamcne as Hiroto Fuku, Daisuke Sobue and Toshiya Okada put together a combined 8Ks over 4.2 innings pitched.  

On the batting side, Shuhei Takahashi continues to defy my doomsaying as he notched another modasho, going 3-3 with an RBI and a walk. When will the Shuhei crazy train slow down? I really don't know anymore but I'm sure it will eventually. It's just a matter of when and I'm afraid the longer this form continues, that harder the fall is going to be. 

The next series will be against the ailing Orix Buffaloes at Kyocera Dome. Nobumasa Fukuda will return to the top-team today and will likely fit straight back into the line-up. The lack of power in the line-up has been noticeable and Fukuda is just about one of the best power-hitters we have at the moment. Masato Matsui is also slated for a return. 

The predicted starters against the Buffaloes are Takuma Achira tonight, Yudai Ono on Wednesday and most likely another trip around with Daisuke Yamai on Thursday.

The Dragons are 2-8 over their last 10 games and while they haven't had quite as big a slump as the Swallows did for the last couple of weeks, they haven't fared much better as the Dragons are only half a game away from anchoring the bottom of the table.

In other, different news. Hall of Famer, Morimichi Takagi had a swing in the practice nets of Nagoya Dome as part of a grassroots engagement program with kids. He's still got it as the 77 year old former 2nd baseman clocked a 100km/h swing speed. 

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