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Thursday, June 20, 2019

Series Wrap: Dragons vs Lions @ Nagoya Dome 18 June - 20 June; Battle of the Domed ends in Lions roaring to victory

The Seibu Lions gave the Dragons a lesson in Dome-meistery as they went ballistic on a hapless pitching staff that surrendered 23 runs over the course of the series.

The first sweep loss of the season was against an unlikely foe in the Lions who haven't been setting things alight in the Pacific League compared to last year's pennant run, but it was more than enough to show what happens when your roll out slingshots to take down a regiment of tanks.

  • Game 64: Lions 16-2 Dragons
  • Game 65: Lions 5-2 Dragons
  • Game 66: Lions 2-1 Dragons
Game 64
You want a disaster? This is how you get a disaster! Takuma Achira got rocked for 8 runs through his unfortunate 4.1 innings while Junki Ito gave up another 8 in his first appearance of the season. 

The Lions line-up saw everyone on fire as the majority of batters hit 2 or more as they amassed 18 hits for the game. The Dragons only real reply was in the third innings when an Yohei Oshima single and a Dayan Viciedo sac-fly put 2 runs on the board. Among the mayhem, Oshima and Atsushi Fujii were the only Dragons to have multi-hit games while, outside of Achira and Ito, the pitcher put in good enough shifts with Hiroto Fuku, Keisuke Tanimoto, Daisuke Sobue and Toshiya Okada keeping clean frames. 

Unsurprisingly, Takuma Achira was removed from the first team after this performance. 

Game 65
Under the pitching of Yudai Ono, the Dragons would fare much better against the Lions in the second game of the series. The Dragons help the lead through ground ball scrampble where Shuhei Takahashi scored from third of Takuma Kato's bat. Kato and Shuhei would once again combine as the former once again scored the latter to give the team the lead.

Yudai Ono on the mound dealt 4.1 no-hit innings before Takeya Nakamura nabbed a single in the 5th. It would Nakamura again who would haunt as his 2-run homer in the top of the 7th would level things for the Lions.

Confident in his starter, Yoda sent Ono out for the 9th inning and was unfortunately burned by the decision as Ono loaded the bases which allowed Nakamura to score 2 on a single. Yuji Kaneko would extend the Lions lead to 3 before Toshiya Okada got the Dragons out of a jam to end the inning. 

The reply in the bottom of the 9th would start in earnest with Atsushu Fujii's lead-off single followed by a Hotaru Yamakawa fumble allowing Yota Kyoda to stand on first. Takuma Kato would unfortunately hit into a double-play while the pinch-hitting Donoue would fall to a 150 km/h fastball from Tatsushi Masuda. 

Ono has been really good this year going deep into games and it's easy to say in hindsight that he should have been pulled earlier. I guess however with the previous evening's bullpen run-out fresh in Yoda's mind and the fact Ono was still under 100 pitches by the 9th meant that keeping him in was a good decision. Perhaps keeping him in with runners on 1st and 2nd may not have been the wisest decision in retrospect, but you win some, you lose some. 

Game 66

Ryosuke Hirata would make his return from injury as Daisuke Yamai would duel Zach Neal to avoid the sweep. The veteran pitcher did a decent job of things after early jitters in the second inning where Hotaru Yamakawa sent him yard and Fumikazu Kimura scored Tomoya Mori on a scuttled ground ball. 

Shuhei Takahashi would respond for the Dragons as Yohei Oshima ran home despite the former grounding into a double play. 

Both starters would go 5 innings a piece before the bullpen shut down things for both teams. Hiroto Fuku recorded 3 K's in his 1.2 innings of relief to really show how well he's done since coming back from injury last year. Daisuke Sobue and Joely Rodriguez would soak up the remaning innings in what would be a close loss.

Overall a series with little to write home about. The Dragons were completely  outclassed by an explosive Lions line-up that looked just as much at home in Nagoya as they do at the Seibu Dome. The contrast of the have-pops and the pop-less was quite stark in this series as it completely revealed how little power the Dragons line-up actually has. 

A disappointing series. Next up, the Fighters at home.

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