Our Marines made the short trip to Yokohama Stadium this beautiful late May Saturday to face DeNA. After the pomp of DeNA slugger Nakamura’s 2000 hit ceremony, Lotte delivered a power-filled performance to beat the Baystars 9-4.
Ace Naruse took the hill vs DeNA’s Fujii. Naruse was looking to bounce back after his bizarro 4 hitter in Jingu last weekend. Fujii came into this game undefeated on the year. The lineup looked much the same as other recent games with the exception of no DH and the welcome return of Kakunaka to the field after his 13 day rehab of a sore hammy.
Lotte got first crack at putting some runs on the board and Our Marines didn’t disappoint. Kakunaka (batting second) drew a walk but was gunned down trying to swipe second. After Iguchi singled, Imae rocketed a line drive over the left field fence and into the screaming throngs of Lotte fans. 2-0 Lotte in the first.
In the bottom of the second my guy T Ogino smacked another Fujii offering down the line and over the left field fence again! It’s now a 3-0 Lotte lead!
Lotte couldn’t plate anyone with bases loaded and 2 outs in the 3rd, but that wouldn’t happen again in the 5th. With one out Iguchi drilled a double to center. A walk to Imae and a two out infield single by T Ogino loaded the bases for Daichi. Our great shortstop waited patiently for his pitch but it never came – he drew a 4 pitch walk instead to bring in Iguchi. It was now up to young Emura. Emura has looked great behind the plate but he hasn’t yet had his moment at the plate. On a 2-0 Fujii fastball Emura unloaded and drove it deep to the right center wall! Imae in, T Ogino in, Daichi in, Emura standing on second! Suddenly it’s a 7-0 Lotte lead.
That’s a nice bit of padding for Naruse to work with. Unfortunately it looked like the long inning took the edge of Naruse’s pitching. Through the first 4 innings our ace looked great, giving up only one walk and no hits. That changed real quick though as the extremely dangerous Blanco sent a Naruse pitch way, way, way out of the field of play for his 21st of the year. It was way, way out of the stadium as well – easily clearing the back wall in left center. That was… big. Two batters later Kinjoh followed suit for his 100th career homer. 7-2 Lotte.
DeNA bats got going again against Naruse in the 6th – two more in and a diminishing 7-4 Lotte lead. With that, Naruse was done and into the pens we went.
The pen wasn’t going to let this one get away. I’m going to spoil the drama here – Nakagoh, Carlos Rosa, and Masuda were great. Three innings pitched, one hit and no runs allowed by the men in black. That was exactly what was needed to stop all these nonsense thoughts of big Yokohama comebacks. Big help was given by Okada in center (who else?) – in the 7th with a man on second and two outs Blanco hit another rocket, but this one was spectacularly reeled in by Okada at the fence to squelch all hope.
But the Lotte bats weren’t done – timely singles by Iguchi and Imae scored Okada and Nemoto to stretch the Lotte lead to the final score – 9-4 Lotte!
Great work today by Imae (3 RBI), T Ogino (3-5 with the HR, a stolen base), and Iguchi (3-5 with an. RBI), but the hero had to be Emura. Not only did his big double completely change the tone of the game from a relatively close one to a blowout but it also was his first game-changing smack of his short career. Hopefully he can build on this feeling and get even more confidence in his batting stroke.
Tomorrow’s game features Ohmine vs DeNA second round pick Mishima.