Want some good news? Sure it’s thin on the ground here, but our lovely rookie Ishikawa (arguably the best pitcher on the team this year, and undoubtedly the best among the starters) is back and starting game 1. The next three games are against the Fighters, sitting in third. The math is very poor indeed, though, and Chiba really, really, really needs a sweep of this three game set in Tokyo Dome to even begin to think about making a run at A-Class.
It’s actually quite simple – don’t worry about Hamu. Lotte’s just gotta win some games. There’s 30 games left for Our Marines, 33 for the Fighters. Assuming no ties, that means if Hamu maintains its season winning percentage of .509, Chiba’s gotta go 22-8 in these last 30 games to overcome. Can it be done? Sure, why not? 7 of the remaining are vs those same Fighters (all in Kanto), and 13 of the remaining are vs the nothing-to-play-for Lions and Eagles. Why not win a whole lot of those games?
We fans should never complain when our team goes into the final game of a series with a chance for a sweep, especially versus a solid team like Orix. So even though the result in that final game feels disappointing, like an opportunity missed, we’ll be happy with taking 2 of three.
I know I’ve written off the team on two separate occasions in just the last three weeks. We’re fans, that what we do. We’re still mathematically alive though, and this coming two week stretch is likely going to be the true determining period for Our Marines. The next two weeks features a home-and-home with the 2nd place Buffaloes, a home set with the 1st place Hawks in between, and then we end the month with a 3-game Tokyo Dome series versus the 3rd place Fighters.
That glimmer of hope we all had after the 5 game win streak has summarily been smashed against the cold, unyielding truth of reality. Chiba has lost 8 in a row to the Fighters, a team which (if I try to think objectively) just should not be as good as our guys. Not now. But unfortunately the results on the field are saying otherwise, and the 2.5 game deficit that seemed so promising just 4 days ago is now a bleak 5.5 game pit.
Our Marines and the Fighters of Nippon Ham meet again. It’s been two weeks since the Makuhari Massacre, when Hamu swept us out of the building and seemingly out of contention. We came into the series 4 games back, and ended up 7 back. A day later, we were 8 back of the Fighters for the final post season spot.
Suffice it to say that the previous series with Rakuten could not have gone any better for Lotte. Not only did the series sweep push the guys closer to Hamu in 3rd place, but the gap over Rakuten has widened so much that it’s unlikely they will escape the PL cellar this year, let alone challenge for a Climax Series spot. Schadenfreude? Sure. That’s how it goes.
After dropping game 1 in Osaka Our Marines blew the doors off the best pitching staff in the PL and took the series. Who saw that coming? And which team is going to show up at QVC, that team or the team that dropped the series to the Fighters? 48 games left, 6 games out of third, if there’s going to be a run it’s gotta be now.
There’s really no other way to put it. This week’s sweep at the hands of the Fighters basically ended our chances for a late summer post-season run. Sure, crazier things have happened than a 7 game comeback with 51 games to go. For all intents and purposes though, we’re probably finished. I’m ok with that. Overall, I’m satisfied with the effort and fight put forth from our guys.