Steve’s Note: This is Craig’s first post here. He’s a huge Chiba Lotte fan – more games than me this year, even – and loves to chat about Lotte. He’s made a short introduction in the About section, so please check it out!
An 8-4 win puts us 1/2 game out of first! The first place Seibu Lions are back in town tomorrow for game 2 of a two-game stint.
Reality Check Time: It’s early May, and not late September. Inter-league play is up on the horizon, not post-season play. Still, I’ll take it.
Here’s the recap:
The 22 year old Yuji Nishino took the mound tonight. After 7 1/3 shutout innings a week ago in Osaka, he’s 3-1 with a 1.76 ERA in his first year at the Ichi-gun level. The former ikusei player went into the 7th tonight with a 6-0 lead. Perhaps in an effort to save the over-worked bullpen, he endured a 3-run 7th inning. With a little additional help from the offense, he departed with a 7-3 lead going into the 8th. All things considered, he did a good enough job to earn his 4th win.
Hitting: 4-run Bottom of the 2nd
Speaking of the offense, it was a great night at the plate for the Marines: Lotte plated 8 runs on a whopping 17 hits. A 4-run 2nd inning for Lotte was the difference in tonight’s game. Here’s the summary of the bottom of the 2nd:
With back-to-back 1-out hits to center by speedsters Daichi Suzuki & T.Ogino, the Marines were ready to roll. With said runners on first and second, Emura hit a potential double play ball back to the pitcher. However, the throw to second sailed into center. Daichi scored from second… it was 1-0 Marines, and it was all downhill from there. The look on the Lions manager Watanabe (who took over for current Lotte manager Itoh) says it all (above image).
Okada hit a single to load the bases for lead-off hitter Nemoto. It was bases-loaded, still 1 out. Nemoto’s RBI single to center made it 2-0. Next up, last year’s Pacific League batting champion Kakunaka hit an infield-fly to SS for the second out, but the bases remained loaded. Iguchi’s 2-RBI blooper fell between the between CF and SS to made it 4-0. After that, a Lotte victory never felt in doubt.
…Fast forward to the 8th inning…
Matsunaga pitched a scoreless 8th. Nakagoh played the role of effective-ish middle reliever/failed closer by giving up a run and leaving with the bases loaded (tying run at the plate), and 1 out in the 9th. Last year’s rookie of the year, and this year’s closer, Masuda entered. Masuda cleaned up the mess, and Lotte won by a final score of 8-4.