The four game losing streak is kaput. With the punch of 10 hits to propel them and the control of 4 pitchers to guide them home, Our Marines closed out the season series with the DeNA BayStars in grand fashion – an efficient 3-1 victory. With the win, Chiba stretches their lead in the Pacific League back to 1.5 games.
An Explosion of Power NOT An Explosion of Power
Do you like your games filled with extra base hits? Then this game was not your cup of tea. DeNA and Lotte combined for 16 hits, and every last one was a single. Not only was every one of Lotte’s hits a single, 8 of them went right up the middle including the first 7 of the game.
No mind. The hits were there when we needed them. Imae led the charge from the 4-spot with a PERFECT 4-4 night, including the RBI that turned out to be the difference maker.
DeNA actually got on board first in this one thanks to a shaky first by Lotte starter Yuki Karakawa. A hit by leadoff batter Ishikawa and a walk to Tony Blanco (smart move!) set runners at first and second with two outs, but venerable Nakamura kocked a single to left to bring in Ishikawa. 1-0 DeNA after 1/2 inning.
Our Marines had a chance to score in the first after singles by T OGINO and Imae put runners on the corners with 2 outs, but Saburo struck out to end the chance.
In the third inning, Chiba would not let the chances go wasted. Ishimine (starting in center) lead off with a walk from DeNA starter Takasaki, and Nemoto bunted him to second. Just two pitches later, T OGINO singled up the middle and Ishimine raced on home. 1-1 tie game! Iguchi singled to send Ogino to second, Imae followed with his second single – Ogino in easily, and Our Marines in front 2-1 after 3!
5th inning – T OGINO belts a drive down the third base line but the nimble Nakamura makes a tremendous snag to prevent him from reaching base. The DeNA defense could do nothing to prevent Iguchi, Imae, and Saburo reaching by walk, single, and walk, though, setting the table for another big chance. Daichi Suzuki delivered a sac fly to right, Iguchi scores, and the lead is stretched to 3-1 Lotte.Relief On The Way
The word relief conjures up feelings of people helping people, and boy did the Lotte pen help out tonight. Karakawa came out to warm up for the 7th inning but was pulled before throwing a pitch. His night: 6 IP, 6 hits, 4 Ks, 2 BB, and just the 1 run on 102 pitches. It’s not close to his best outing but way more than adequate.
But the bullpen? Simply stunningly, stupendously subarashii. Fujioka comes in first – 3 up, 3 down with 2 Ks on 14 pitches. Next: Carlos Rosa – 3 up, 3 down with a strikeout on 11 pitches. And of course in to close it, Masuda – 3 up, 3 down with a strikeout on 12 pitches. Game, set and match.
That was Masuda’s 20th save of the year in Lotte’s 58th game (already????), putting him on track for 50 on the year. That would best the NPB record of 48 held by Iwase and Fujikawa. It’s a testament to both his personal success and the team’s success this season that we’re even mentioning him as having a chance at that record.
Up next is the final leg of Interleague 2013 – a 2 game weekend set with Chunichi, who are currently hapless on the mound and punchless at the plate. We gotta win these two and finish strong! Naruse vs Ono in Saturday’s game 1.