Lotte entered today’s game with Seibu needing a win to decidedly wipe the stink of Friday’s game off the weekend. With high winds in the area and rain threatening to interrupt the game the Marines put away the Lions 8-5 to take the series 2 games to 1. With this win Lotte has also won each of the series with Seibu so far this year – not bad against the defending champs!
Just like yestrerday’s game the Marines jumped on Seibu pitching early. In the bottom of the first Benny led off with a walk, 3rd batter Saburo took four balls as well, cleanup hitter Iguchi brought Benny home for the first run of the game with a double, and both Saburo and Iguchi scored on sac flies by Ohmatsu and Satozaki, respectively. 3 runs one 1 hit – good way to punch your opponent in the mouth to start the game!
Lotte dealt more damage to Seibu morale in the third as Satozaki drilled a first-pitch double into the right field gap to plate in Iguchi and Ohmatsu, who reached on a walk and a double, respectively. Sadly, that was more than enough to chase Lions starter Hirano – sad because we would have certainly liked to see him for a few more innings and a bunch more runs.
The wheels almost came off for Lotte starter Ono in the 5th as 8 men came to the plate, the bases were loaded, but Seibu could only score 2 runs off a ground out and a single by Kataoka. Savvy pitching from Ono kept the lead at 3 runs.
Lotte would add to that lead in the bottom of the 5th when Satozaki reached base after being hit by a pitch, Lambin knocked him to third with a single, and Imae brought him home with an absolutely perfect squeeze play. Great call, nice run!
The same players figured in the next Lotte scoring chance in the 7th as Ohmatsu singled, Satozaki doubled him home on another gapper (this one to right), and Imae brought Sato home with a seeing eye single. 8-2 Lotte, a lead they would surely not relinquish.
Kawasaki took over for Ono and continued his brilliant May with 1 2/3 perfect innings of work. How nice his renaissance has been for the bullpen!
Itoh relieved Kawasaki for the 8th. After two quick outs he allowed a single to Ishii and a double to GG Sato. The 5th batter, light-hitting pinch hitter Matsusaka, somehow poked a line drive into the teeth of a 10 m/s+ gale and into the left field stands, bringing the total to 8-5.
That’s as close as they would get, as 99% perfect Ogino did what he does so well in the 9th to pick up his 6th save.
So the debacle on Friday is fully erased; Lotte heads into Interleague play on a positive note and is now sitting at 17-20, 4th place in the Pacific League, only 1/2 game out of third. Not ideal, but given how horrid the start to the season was I’ll take it.