Sunday, June 24, 2012

Dragons Official USTREAM

I just added a new link in the "Where to Watch NPB Games" section to the right.  The Dragons have their own USTREAM page, you can find it hereUSTREAM looks to be an equivalent to, a place where anyone can show live video or keep stored, previously recorded videos.  The Dragons' page contains a significant amount of highlights and also shows a few games live.  The next live game they will be showing is this week, June 26th, against the Hanshin Tigers.  That appears to be the last live game they will show for a while, but it's still a good place to check out game highlights.

Week In Review: June 18 - June 24

The Dragons in Toyama (Dragons Official Photo Blog)
This week was a short week as the Dragons played only two games.  The majority of the week was saved for make-up games of inter-league games that were rained out.  Chunichi wasn't involved in any inter-league games that were rained out and so were able to enjoy five straight days off. 
The two games this week were played against Hiroshima in Toyama and Kanazawa with Chunichi being the home team in both.
The Dragons dropped the first game of the series 3-1.  Chunichi wasn't able to get much going offensively against the Carps' ace Kenta Maeda and trailed a majority of the game.  Chukyodai Chukyo product Shota Dobayshi of the Carp had a homer in the game off of starter Kenichi Nakata.
Chunichi hung on to win the second game of the series 5-4.  The bullpen held the Carp scoreless after Soma Yamauchi was pulled in the 4th inning.  Tony Blanco and Ryosuke Hirata homered in that game.
Here are a couple additional notes from this week:

  • Shuhei Takahashi has been practicing in the outfield.  He also played a ni-gun game in right field on June 20th.
  • Kosuke Fukudome was designated for assignment earlier this week by the Chicago White Sox.  Rumors are that his return to Japan is imminent, so far Yokohama has shown the most interest in him in the media.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Great Central Throwbacks: Round 2

The Great Central turn-back-the-clock series will return for a second year.  YakyuBaka has a very thorough article, as always, with details and pictures of the uniforms.  The Dragons will be wearing their 1974-1986 era home uniforms for two August series' against Yakult.  The Swallows will be wearing their 1978 uniform, and it appears that both teams will be wearing home uniforms, kind of weird, but at least both sets are from the same era unlike the other games Yomiuri (1981) vs. Yokohama (1998) and Hanshin (1937) vs. Hiroshima (1975). 
Really like the that they are doing this again and hope they continue to do it.  I do think though that they should pick a year e.g. 1974 and have every team use that year's uniforms to make things more authentic.  I also realize that not all of the teams date back to the 30s, but there are ways around that, as teams could use whatever team was local at that time, it's done frequently in MLB and would add even more variety. 
As for the choice of the 1974 Dragons uniform, it's not my favorite of theirs, but I do like it, and definitely prefer the home version over the road.

Week in Review: June 11 - June 17

Last week was the final week of inter-league play.  The Dragons finished up with 12-8-4 record against the Pacific League teams, good enough for 4th, behind Yomiuri, Nippon Ham and Lotte.  The Central League was much more competive this year and win-loss totals were pretty even between the leagues.  Chunichi was 3-2 last week with 3 wins against Nippon Ham and Orix sandwiched around a pretty awful series against Softbank, a team that struggled in inter-league play.  The bats remained quiet, but were good enough to pull out some close games and make it a another winning week. 
The week started with another sayonara win, Hirokazu Ibata came through with an 11th inning RBI single to give the Dragons a 1-0 win over the Fighters.  Iwata, Yamai, Sosa and Muto combined for the shutout.
Chunichi then traveled to Fukuoka for a two-game series with the Hawks and ended up leaving town with more losses than runs scored.  The Dragons dropped the first game 1-0 with Kenichi Nakata pitching an 8-inning complete game.  He's been pitching well, but hasn't been much run support of late.  Chunichi got hammered in the second game of the series, losing 8-0.
The week ended with two close wins at the Kyocera Dome against Orix.  Masahiro Araki had the big hit in the first game, a 2-RBI triple in the top of the 11th and Iwase held the lead for a 4-2 victory.  In the second game Kazuki Yoshimi returned for his first start in more than a month and provided 8 innings of 1-run pitching and Shuhei Takahashi hit his first career home run breaking a 1-1 tie in the 8th.  The final score was 3-2.
  • Shinji Tajima was taken of the active roster mid-week with an arm soreness issue.
  • Tony Blanco's game-tying home run on Saturday at the Kyocera Dome was a serious blast.  It looked like it made all the way up to the Dragons' cheering section in left field above the luxury boxes and well above the outfield wall.
  • No games this week until Saturday when the CL season resumes against Hiroshima in Toyama.
  • Masa Yamamoto is still 5th in the All-Star voting for starting pitchers though he was demoted several weeks ago and hasn't returned to ichi-gun.  I'm a little curious what will happen if he makes the team, I assume he will accept.  There some other components for picking All-Stars beyond the fan vote, so we will see if he does make it, it will be pretty funny if he does.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Week in Review: June 4 - June 10

Chunichi was swept by Seibu to start the week, extending their losing streak to 4 games and allowing Yomiuri to pass them in the standings.  The Dragons then bounced back to sweep Rakuten and finished the week by scratching across a 9th-inning run for a 1-1 tie against Nippon Ham on Sunday.  The 3-game unbeaten streak allowed Chunichi to reclaim the CL lead and they currently hold 1-game led over the Giants.  The offense didn't put up a lot of runs this week, but there were some clutch moments.
  • Kazuhiro Wada hit a 2-run walkoff home run to be Rakuten 3-2 on Friday night.
  • Solid ni-gun performances this past week for Kazuki Yoshimi and Kenshin Kawakami.  Both are working their way back from injury.  Yoshimi threw 3 scoreless innings and Kawakami threw 6 scoreless in his start.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Tony Blanco Named Central League MVP for the Month of May

Nice to see the big guy overcome some obstacles and put the early-season BS (Yamasaki "competition" and ni-gun demotion) behind him and show everyone what kind of damage he is still capable of.   He's definitely deserving of the above award with at .333 BA, 9 HR and 23 RBI in May.  He's now among the league leaders in HR and RBIs and with way fewer plate appearances than most his competitors.  Hopefully he can keep things rolling through the season and the Dragons will sign him to new deal.  I think he will continue to thump if he stays healthy, he's been around the NPB for several years now and knows what it takes to succeed.  Whether the Dragons re-sign him or not will be interesting,  I'm still not sure what direction the front office is going with their recent moves, but they definitely don't have a replacement of his calibre on the current roster.  With the way Blanco's been jerked around a bit by management, I wouldn't blame him if  he took an offer from another team should one be available, but as a fan I hope he'll be back.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Week in Review: May 28 - June 3

The week started hot with two wins and a tie at the Nagoya Dome against Softbank and Orix, but Chunichi ran into a buzzsaw in the PL's best team, the Marines, and were outscored 14-2 in their two loses on the trip to Chiba.  With the .500 week Chunichi still holds a 1.5 game lead in the Central League standings.  Here's a few notes on the week:
  • Scary news translated on regarding Takuya Asao's injury status.  He was diagnosed with inflamation in his rotator cuff.  Fortunately, at this point it doesn't sound like a tear, that's something that could potentially threaten his career or at least be an injury that he wouldn't come back from as the same style of pitcher.  I would suggest they keep him out for a lot longer than the two weeks that has been reported.  Asao has a lot of talent and is coming off of one of best years I've ever seen or heard about for a reliever.  Hopefully this is a wake up call to the manager, though Ochiai is more to blame than Takagi, it would be a shame to waste his talent by rushing him back too soon or continuing to use him as much as they have the last couple years.
  • Masahiko Morino hit a 10th inning walkoff home run against Orix last Wednesday for a 2-1 victory.  Kenichi Nakata got a no-decision in the game despite pitching 9 innings and giving up only one run. 
  • Ryosuke Hirata returned to ichi-gun from back issues.  He was 3 for 8 with a couple walks in his first three games back.
  • Tony Blanco and former Mariner, Wladimir Balentien (now of the Swallows) are tied for the NPB lead in home runs with 12.