Saturday, June 28, 2014

Dragons Pull Even For Third Place

Thanks to an excellent performance by Daisuke Yamai, Chunichi was able to defeat Hanshin yesterday and move into a tie for third place with the Tigers.  The Dragons scored a run in the 8th to break a 1-1 tie and Yamai and Iwase were able to escape jams in the bottom of the 8th and 9th innings to preserve the victory. 

Chunichi had been stuck in 4th place since nearly the start of the season, but the Cental League has been tightening up.  Interleague play was good to the Dragons as they gained ground against Hanshin and Hiroshima.  Hopefully Chunichi can keep it up and make the Central League race interesting down the stretch, the season is almost half over already.  Hiroshima has been coming back down to earth so 2nd place isn't out of the question. 

Asao is back, and pitching well, and Yoshimi could be back as soon as next month.  That should help.  Hirata is banged up now, hopefully he won't be out for long.  Anderson Hernandez has gotten hot and given the team a boost as Naomichi Donoue has slumped back to the bench.  Outside of Yomiuri, all of the Central League teams have flaws so really any of the other teams could find themselves playing in the Climax Series. 

The Dragons are making a run, get fired up Dragons fans! 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

One Month In

The Dragons currently sit in 4th place after the first five weeks of the season.  At this point the Central League's top three teams are bunched within a few games of each other and bottom three teams are bunched together with about 5 games separating the two groups.  There is still a long way to go though and 5 games doesn't mean much at this point.

So far the offence has been stronger than it's been for several years, but the regulation ball has been traveling well this year and that probably has a lot to do with it.  Still Oshima and even Araki have been doing well at the top of the lineup and Luna and Hirata have hit very well in the 3-4 spots.  Morino and Wada have been contributing, especially of late.  Ogasawara has hit well in his role and Naomichi Donoue and Masato Matsui were hitting well, but have slumped lately.

Both Luna and Wada are near the top of the league with 7 home runs and 27 RBI each, but outside of those two they comparatively haven't hit for a ton of power and currently rank last in the league in home runs and 5th in runs scored. Their runs scored numbers aren't that far from the pack though, only Hanshin and Yakult have scored a lot more runs than Chunichi so far.

Though they rank third in the Central in runs allowed, run prevention seems to be what's holding the Dragons back.  I can't imagine Chunichi hitting much better than they have so far, but I could definitely see some improvement in their pitching and defense.  For the Dragons to be playoff contenders they will have be one of the top pitching staffs, which is what they've been in the past.  So far Daisuke Yamai has been the only consistent starter.  They have gotten some surprise contributions from Kenta Asakura, Yudai Kawai and Tatsuro Hamada, but they will need more consistency from Yudai Ono, Daniel Cabrera and a healthy Kaz Yoshimi for Chunichi to stay in the race.  The bullpen has been pretty good so far, except for a few blowups.  I've been impressed with Daisuke Sobue the few times I've seen him as well as some of the other young bullpen arms.  Outside of Wada in left field there is no reason why the Dragons shouldn't be a solid defensive team, I don't know what their overall defensive numbers are (or any source in English that would show them), but they've definitely had some sorry moments. 

Going forward Chunichi needs to continue hitting at their current level, get some more consistency from their starting pitching and keep looking to improve their foreign players roster, they have three foreign spots that they've gotten almost no production from.  If they can do any of that they can certainly stay in the race for the long run.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Isobe Max vs. Takashi Skylarks

Back in February I was able to attend my eldest neice's Little League Championship Game.  We originally had planned to go to a Chunichi open-sen game that day but the Max's game ended up falling on the same day. 
Isobe finished the regular season in a three-way tie for first with the Skylarks and another team and so there was a three team round robin tiebreaker scheduled.  Each team played the other once with the champion being the team that gave up the fewest runs over the two games.  The Max lost their morning game 2-1 and the Skylarks had won there previous game putting Isobe in a position where if they won the final game by three runs or more they would win the championship.
The final game moved quickly as neither team was able to score, Isobe had more scoring chances but couldn't cash in.  The score remained 0-0 into the sixth inning (of a seven inning game).  Things didn't look good for the Max who had to score at least 3, but then things got worse, the Skylarks got men on base and Isobe brought their infield and outfield in to try and prevent any runs from scoring.  That strategy didn't work out as the Skylark popped three consecutive hits over the drawn-in outfielders' heads leading to a 4-0 lead.  The Max rallied in the top of 7th scoring two runs with two outs, but fell short 4-2 finishing in third place.
It was a fun game and I'm glad I was able to go, the Max plays year round and every time I've gone to Japan I've been able to practice with them or help with practice dating back to 2007.  Now my nephew is going to High School (Toyota) and it won't be long until my neices are too old for Little League too.  I will definitely miss hanging with the Max.  Go Isobe!

Pre-game

 

The younger Max team cheering on the older kids


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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Congratulations to Toyokawa High School Baseball!

Nice run by Toyokawa HS at the Spring Koshien.
Yakyubaka has all the scores.
They won three games in their first Koshien appearance.
Finally losing in the semifinals to Osaka's Riseisha in a very entertaining game.
Toyokawa trailed Riseisha 6-2 going into the bottom of 8th inning of their final game.
Toyokawa then dramatically scored 5 runs, all with 2 outs to take a 7-6 lead into the 9th.
Riseisha responded with a lead off home run to tie the game.
The game continued to the 10th, but Toyokawa ran out of pitching and Riseisha took advantage, winning the game and moving on to the final.
Congratulations Toyokawa, way to rep for the Toyokawa/Toyohashi area!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

2014 Dragons Fan Club Jersey

We took a family vacation to Japan in February and visited Aichi, Shizuoka and did some sight seeing in Tokyo, including Tokyo Disneyland.  I'm finally getting around to sharing some things from the trip.  First up is this year's official fan club jersey given to me by my brother and sister-in-law.




 



















As you can see in the second photo it's got a pretty cool new logo, at least not a logo I've seen.  I'd definitely like to see more of this guy.  Sorry Shaolon, you can stay as a mascot, but your days as a minimalist/ambiguous team logo may be numbered.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Opening Day Lineup Announced

The Opening Day lineup for Friday night's game against the Carp has been anounced. 
It's been posted by yakyubaka and Nikkan Sports.

Here is the lineup and my thoughts on it:

CF Yohei Oshima - He's had a good preseason and it's once again his job to lose.  I don't think he will.

2B Masahiro Araki - I've seen enough of Araki, but he's been with the team for a long time.  Let him start the first game then sit him on the bench the rest of the season.

3B Hector Luna - Hopefully he can get off to a hot start like he did last year.

RF Ryosuke Hirata - He's earned his spot.

1B Masahiko Morino - Michihiro Ogasawara and Alexis Gomez are other options, but Morino is the logical choice.  Gomez didn't show enough in the preseason and Ogasawara will probably be in more of a pinch-hitting role.  I think Morino will get most of the time at first at least to start the season.

LF Kazuhiro Wada - Still crushing the ball at the age of 41, hit .382 for the preseason. 

SS Anderson Hernandez - Veteran player, seems to do things the right way in the field.  Too early to tell how useful he'll be at the plate.  I'd like to see him at second and Naomichi Donoue at short in the early season.  Donoue has a much higher upside than Araki though he hasn't put it together at the plate yet.  Hopefully Shuhei Takahashi will be in the mix sooner rather than later as well.

C Motonobu Tanishige - Like he would sit himself on Opening Night.

P Kenshin Kawakami - A bit of surpise pick as Yudai Ono looked like he'd pitched his way into this start.  I like the choice though, Kawakami has done a lot for the Dragons and I wouldn't be surprised if this was his last season.