Game Notes: Yakult vs Chunichi (Aug 3)
by Patrick Newman (Aug 5, 2011)
The most interesting game I watched this week was Chunichi and Yakult's 1-1 tie, played on Wednesday at Nagoya Dome. Here are a few observations from the game.
- The last time I watched Wei-Yin Chen,
he was extremely effective but I wasn't sure how I felt about him as an
MLB prospect. This start was a bit more confidence-inspiring. He showed
a broader repertoire, working in his curveball and forkball, but more
importantly I saw a little movement on his fastball that I had noticed
earlier in the year. It was almost like a shuuto, with a little tailing
movement away from righthanded hitters. Chen only tasted trouble in the
second inning, when he gave up a series of line drive singles, yielding
Yakult's only run of the game; and in the third, when a series of
elevated fastballs to Shingo Kawabata eventually
resulted in a triple. On the negative side, he still didn't have the
great 150 kmph (94 mph) velocity that he's shown in previous years,
and he did work up in the zone a bit. That will catch up to him against
- This was the first time I really watched Yakult rookie Yuki Shinchijyo. He kind of reminds me Lotte starter Yuki Karakawa.
- Joel Guzman actually looked pretty good at the
plate, at least in two of his at bats. His approach seems to have
improved: he didn't wave at bad pitches the way he did early in the
season and looked more focused on making contact than trying to hit a
home run. He was rewarded for this better approach with a pair of
singles. Maybe he was seeing the ball better; Guzman was wearing
goggles, which I don't remember him having early in the year.
- Wladimir Balentien, on the other hand, is going in
the opposite direction. He looked like a complete mess at the plate;
just hacking away without any kind of plan and behind everything. Chen
struck him out three times, and only the third at bat was remotely
- Ryoji Nakata started at first base for the Dragons, in the place of the the injured Tony Blanco.
He's clearly in batter shape than he was last year, though still quite
round. It wasn't a good game for Nakata, as he struck out three times
times, including a big spot in the ninth, with runners on second and
third and two outs. Nakata looks like he can drive balls thrown over the
lower inside part of the strike zone, but pretty clearly struggles with
the outside half of the plate.
- Norichika Aoki's plate discipline seems to have regressed.
- Chunichi mascot Doala failed to land his trademark
backflip, but a Dragons cheerleader executed one perfectly. In a show of
support, visiting Yakult mascot Tsubakuro gave Doala a friendly pat on the back.