The Marines returned home on Tuesday after the 3-2 road trip to Sendai and Tokorozawa to face the 10-9 Buffaloes. The first series with Orix didn’t go so well, with Lotte losing all 3 games in Osaka a few weeks ago. Taking the hill tonight was Kobayashi, facing Orix pitcher Kondo. There were alot of lineup changes from the norm for the Marines on Tuesday, as Chase Lambin made his first start in Japan in center (and collected his first hit), Burnham Jr in left, and Nemoto getting the start at 2nd.
Both teams got in some early scoring in this one, with Orix scoring a run on a walk and two singles in the top of the first and the Marines coming back in the bottom of the first with two runs of their own. Hashimoto continued his season awakening from Sunday with a 2-RBI double scoring Fukuura and Tsuyoshi. He followed his hit in the first with another RBI double in the 3rd. He would end up 3-4 in this game with all of the Marines’s RBIs, and 5 in the past 2 games.
Unfortunately the three runs wasn’t enough as Kobayashi could not hold back the Orix attack. The Buffaloes squeezed out runs in both the 4th and 6th to tie it and the Marines couldn’t bring any more runners across the plate, despite numerous baserunners and plenty of chances. Most critical was Nishioka’s ground out in the bottom of the 8th with 2 out and the bases loaded as the gaiya fans sand “Skinhead Runnin'” and tried to will the team to victory.
Sikorski came in to pitch the 9th and the 10th. As always seems to be the case when a team lets a dangerous opponent hang around instead of getting clutch hits, bad things happened. In this case the usually reliable Sikorski gave up a deep HR to Orix’s Ohbiki in the 10th. Lotte was unable to come back in the bottom of the 10th and lost 4-3.
I’ve yet to write anything about the controversy surrounding ownership’s purported comments regarding the right field supporters and a possible move from Chiba. I don’t trust my Japanese ability to catch all the subtleties of the conflict so I don’t want to risk reporting something that’s not true. What I can say is the mood in the stadium wasn’t very festive on Tuesday, especially compared to the normal enthusiasm level for a game before a pre-holiday game or Saturday’s game in Saitama. The Bobby 2010 supporters were virtually non-existent, and the petition gatherers weren’t at the stadium at all. Could the controversy and the surrounding gloom be affecting the play on the field as well? I can’t say; a few more games might give more of a clue.
Immediately after the game the right field fans staged a short, silent protest against team ownership.
I’m curious to see what the atmosphere will be like at Wednesday’s game. I will have a full report, of course!