It’s been a rough July for Chiba – coming into Tuesday’s game vs Daiei the Boys by the Bay were just 2-8-1 for the month (most of the games on the road). But thanks to some great pitching, timely hitting, and a powerful smash by new addition Craig Brazell, Our Marines pulled out a fun 6-3 victory at QVC. Oh, I wish I had been there to see it.
Honestly I was supposed to go – had planned on it for weeks – but I left Japan for a business trip and brought a cold back with me. Time to rest at home. I missed a good one.
I’m also conveniently ignoring the two games prior to this one – both Lotte losses – and neither of them interesting enough to warrant dredging up the past. Let’s just say I spent a good portion of Monday’s 8th inning complaining loudly in my seat about managerial decisions and poor performance. But this is We LOVE Marines not We Complain Loudly About Questionable Decisions And Poor Execution By Marines (that’s what Twitter is for) so I won’t get into that.
Let’s Do Some Hitting!
Indeed, let’s! Is 11 hits, 2 doubles, a triple (by – get this – T OGINO!) and a crushed line drive of a homer by Braz sufficient? Yes? Then, friend, you would be happy with this game!
Lotte bats pounded on Hawks starter Terahara early and often. The fun got started in the first as Iguchi drilled a 2-out double and Imae immediately brought him home. That’s a very quick 1-0 Lotte lead, folks!
More goodness for the Chiba fans in the second as T OGINO ripped a triple to left center. For mere mortals it would have been a double but everyone’s favorite speedster had designs on three bases the whole way and was in easily. Daichi grounded to first – the throw went home and Ogino scampered back to the bag, everybody safe. Kanazawa brought him in with an RBI ground-out to make it a 2-0 Lotte lead, Fighting Nemo ripped a double of his own to score Daichi, and Okada singled to bring in Nemoto. End of 2, and it was 4-0 Lotte!
Bottom 3 – Imae led off with a single and Braz followed with one of his own (that’s a 7 game hitting streak in 7 games played by Craig!). Kakunaka grounded into a force at second to leave runners at the corners for…. T OGINO. Yeah, he’s got this one – a single to left, Imae in, Lotte laughing it up at 5-0!
As I just mentioned, Brazell has been basically on fire since coming to Lotte, hitting safely in every game with a .462 BA. The only thing missing has been the extra base hits, the power. But he’s been crushing the ball – huge, high deep flies in Monday’s game and in the first inning of this one. The dingers just had to come. In the bottom of the 5th, it finally did – Braz crushed a 3-2 slider on the inside of the plate into the ecstatic fans in the Lotte ouenseki! His first homer as a Marine, and an insurmountable 6-0 Chiba lead!
Insurmountable? But What About The Pitching?
What about it? In a word, superb. The Baby-Faced Killer was on the hill and for 5 innings he pitched out of his mind. 1 hit, 1 walk, that’s it. It was surely the best work we’ve seen from him all year, and he probably could have gone the distance had he not inexplicably fallen apart in the 6th inning (4 hits, 1 walk and a sac fly) to give up three runs. But this night, his performance was more than enough.
The team behind him out of the pen – Matsunaga, Carlos Rosa, and All Star Masuda – simply demolished the Hawks bats. 3 IP, 6 Ks, 1 hit, zero hope. Just a great night all around for the pitching staff.
With the win Our Marines solidify their second place position with one game left before the All Star break. Furuya gets the start against Funabashi’s own Iwasaki.