Not a good week for the Swallows -- they went 2-4 and lead the fourth place team by 7.5 games (down from 9 last week). The only positive for the Swallows is perhaps Norichika Aoki. Since last week, Aoki has gone 9-for-22 with a double, a home run, and 4 RBIs. If he can turn things around, he could potentially pick up the slack left by D'Antona's injury.
There's also a new fourth place team this week that, quite frankly, scares me more than the Hiroshima Carp: the Hanshin Tigers. For most of the first half, the Tigers looked awful (other than perhaps Tomoaki Kanemoto) with some of their players coming back from injuries, they're slowly beginning to look like a team. And between last week and this week, they've managed to lower their team ERA (3.36 -> 3.27).
Key Series of the Week
Yomiuri Giants vs Chunichi Dragons (8/25-8/27) @ Nagoya Dome for 3 games
The Giants are 9-6 against the Dragons this year, but have dropped the last 2 consecutive series to the Dragons. A sweep would be nice for the Dragons, but you can bet the Giants will do whatever it takes to make sure that doesn't happen.
Chunichi Dragons vs Yakult Swallows (8/28-8/29) @ Jingu for 3 games
This might look like a series that favors the Swallows, but the Dragons took the last series, 2-1 and outscored Yakult 15-5. The Swallows definitely miss D'Antona's bat.
|Yokohama Bay Stars||108||39||69||0||.361||29||378||521||100||39||.240||4.34||1-5|
It was a bad week for the Fighters -- they got nailed with the swine flu and spiraled into a 5-game losing streak. They held a comfortable 7 game lead over the second place Softbank Hawks last week but took a pretty big hit when they were swept by them this past weekend. Should be an interesting week for both teams. The Fighters play 3 against the Buffaloes while the Hawks take on the Marines. After that, the two teams will collide once again.
The battle for third place is heating up as well with the Eagles taking over third from the Lions this past week. And the two will play a 3-game series against each other at Seibu Dome to kick off week 22.
Key Series of the Week
Rakuten Eagles vs Seibu Lions (8/25-8/27) @ Seibu Dome for 3 games
This should be a good series. The Eagles took over third place this past week and now have a chance to put some distance between them and the Lions. Interestingly enough, the Eagles have played better against the Lions at Seibu Dome than they have at home: 4-2 at Seibu Dome and 1-5 at K-Stadium.
Softbank Hawks vs Nippon Ham Fighters (8/28-8/30) @ Sapporo Dome for 3 games
The Fighters have a chance to get back at the Hawks after getting swept this past weekend. And while they'll have more of their core players back in the line-up, they won't Yu Darvish (the earliest he can return is September 1st).
|Nippon Ham Fighters||104||62||41||1||.602||-||517||384||81||84||.285||3.55||0-5|
|Chiba Lotte Marines||109||43||63||3||.406||20.5||449||493||95||44||.251||4.34||2-4|