Monday, September 3, 2012

Week in Review: August 28 - September 3

This was likely the week that the Dragons fell out of the race for the CL title.  Though they won the series against the Giants away from home, they were winless on their trip to Jingu while at the same time Yomiuri was sweeping the BayStars at home over the weekend.  Now the Giants magic number is down to 19 and the Dragons are 8.5 games back with only 24 to play.  At this point it would take a hell of a miracle for them to get back into first place.  That said, it's probably time to take a look at who the Dragons will likely be playing in the Climax Series.  The Carp and Swallows are realistically the only two teams in the hunt for the third and final playoff spot.  Right now Hiroshima holds a one game lead over Yakult in the standings and it seems like both teams have been within a game or two of each other for a while now, so that is something that will probably continue. 
So far this season Chunichi has owned the Carp, with an 11-4-2 record and has even beaten their ace Kenta Maeda a couple times, though they haven't had a ton of success against him lately.  The Dragons have also fared well against the Carp's other top pitcher Yusuke Nomura, Nomura is 0-2 against the Dragons so far this year.  Despite Chunichi's success, if these teams were to meet in the playoffs, it would probably be a very low scoring series that would be decided by only a couple of timely plays.
The Swallows are a completely different story, they are the only Central League team that Chunichi currently has a losing record against, 7-13-3.  For some reason Yakult has given the Dragons a hard time the last few years, though Chunichi has been able to beat the Swallows when they've faced off in the playoffs. 
Chunichi will be at home this week, starting with one of their potential playoff foes, Hiroshima.  The first game will matchup Kazuki Yoshimi vs. Yusuke Nomura, two pitchers that would surely start a game in the Climax Stage 1, should these two teams meet.  The Dragons will then host Hanshin for a three-game weekend series.  Last week may have taken some of the drama out of the last few weeks of the season, but the Dragons still have plenty of things to iron out in order to be ready for a playoff run.
  • Tony Blanco was 7 for 22 with 6 RBIs in his first week back.
  • Takehiro Donoue and Yusuke Matsui, both right-handed hitters, each started three games in right field this week.  Both players hit well, Donoue 6 for 10 with 2 RBIs, Matsui 5 for 12 with 2 RBIs, but it sounds like Takagi was not a fan of Matsui's defence (from
  • The bullpen continued to be less than lockdown in the Yakult series: Yamai made a mess and then Iwase allowed the tying run to score in the 9th of Friday's tie.  Jorge Sosa walked 3 and gave up 3 runs in 2/3 of an inning Saturday, easily his worst outing of the year.  Shinji Tajima allowed Yakult to walkoff with a game-winning, 2-out double on Sunday.  These will be the guys Chunichi will be counting on the most when the playoffs come, so hopefully they can get back on track.
  • Chunichi was shutout by Kyohei Muranaka of Yakult for the second time in two weeks.

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