Connect with us


Chunichi Dragons are the Central League's Unlikely Frontrunners

With slugger Sho Nakata making an impression at the plate, the Chunichi Dragons are in unfamiliar territory, in first place for the first time since May 2016.



Chunichi Dragons
The Chunichi Dragons celebrate their walk-off win over the Yomiuri Giants on April 2, 2024, at Vantelin Dome Nagoya. Seiya Hosokawa, surrounded by teammates, slugged the game-winning solo home run in the 11th inning. (©SANKEI)

Read the full story on SportsLook - Chunichi Dragons are the Central League's Unlikely Frontrunners

The Chunichi Dragons are the surprise frontrunners in the Central League.

Pitcher Takahiro Matsuba contributed both from the mound and the plate on Wednesday, April 10 as the Dragons beat the Yokohama DeNA BayStars 6-1 for their fifth straight win.

As of Thursday, the Dragons have a record of seven wins, three losses and one tie for a 1½-game lead over Yokohama. They are on top of the standings for the first time since May 10, 2016, eight years ago. 

They were the only NPB team remaining that hadn't been in sole possession of first place since the Reiwa Era started on May 1, 2019.

Lefty Matsuba allowed just one run over 5⅔ innings, had two hits and drove in a run at Yokohama Stadium.

Matsuba (1-0) laid down a bunt single that loaded the bases in the second when Chunichi scored two runs and singled in a run in the third when the visitors took a commanding 5-0 lead.


Former BayStar Seiya Hosokawa is off to a good start with three homers already. 

Chunichi Dragons
Seiya Hosokawa has sparked the Dragons with three home runs through April 10. (©SANKEI)

Nakata Providing Solid Contributions for the Dragons

Meanwhile, controversial slugger Sho Nakata is also off to a decent start as he looks to resurrect his career.

In 10 games batting cleanup, Nakata has 10 hits and eight RBIs, including two homers. That's been a huge boost to the Chunichi offense.

Nakata was a standout with the Hokkaido Nipponham Fighters between 2009 and 2020 but got into trouble in 2021 when he was suspended indefinitely for committing violence against a teammate.

Chunichi Dragons
Chunichi Dragons slugger Sho Nakata hits an RBI single in the third inning against the Yokohama DeNA BayStars on April 9 at Yokohama Stadium. (©SANKEI)

Chunichi manager Kazuyoshi Tatsunami gave a tip of the hat to Nakata.

"We're scoring runs in a different way than we did last season," Tatsunami told Nikkan Sports. "The players have a different feeling when they step up to the plate. Having a player at No 4 like Tanaka is a big factor."

Continue reading the full story on SportsLook.


Author: Jim Armstrong

The author is a longtime journalist who has covered sports in Japan for over 25 years. You can find his articles on SportsLook.