I resisted writing this up for some time as there’s only so many times I can write “Both the pitching and the hitting were no good, yuk,” but it’s gotta be said. In a fairly critical two game homestand vs Hamu, Our Marines flat-out were outplayed by a less talented club, dropping both games of the weekend set.
Game 1 – Lotte Loses 9-3
Game 2 – Lotte Loses 4-3
Yes, there was some good news to take away from this series – coming in Chiba had scored just 2 runs in the previous two games, so actually pushing runners across was a big plus. It was especially nice to see Imae strong at the plate. Gori has been sitting a bit lately – nursing an injury, perhaps? – but in game 1 he stepped in late and delivered a pair of hits including an RBI single. and in game 2 he belted a 2-run shot to his favorite spot in left center. Great to have Gori hitting well.
Iguchi smacked his first homer in a month and a half in game two, a vicious liner that just curved inside the left field foul pole. Braz also came thi-i-i-is close to a grand slam in game 1 but settled for a 2-run double.
On the pitching front – the bullpen was fabulous in game 2, especially Otani who struck out the side in the 8th. Wakui was also fairly decent in game 2, throwing 6 innings of 2 run ball, though he did scatter 6 hits and 4 walks.
Thus endeth the good news.
Oh, where to begin? Former New New Lefty Ace Fujioka got lit up like Shinjuku on a Saturday night in the first inning of game 1. First, a 2-run shot by birthday boy Otani, right after that a shot by Nakata Sho, then Miranda belted one to the left field fence. Hoo-boy, 3-0 before Our Marines even set foot in the batter’s box. In fact the Hamu bats terrorized Lotte pitching for 4 homers in that game, the third by Koyano (of the always lovely 2-unearned-run variety, more on that in a sec) and the fourth a liner by Otani that would have achieved escape velocity had it not been hit on a rope and landed hard against the seats.
And the really, really bad news – both games “featured” three Lotte errors. Given the rate that balls were flying out of the stadium in game 1 perhaps those errors weren’t terribly critical, but as I mentioned one of them directly led to a 2-run shot. At the time, it was a 5-0 game so still within reach, though. Carlos Rosa on the hill, he’s just recorded a quick punch-out of Otani and a ground out by Murata. He induces out three off Miranda, but Hosoya at third totally boots it and Miranda is safe. Rosa is extremely upset, waving off Coach Kawagoe as he goes out to the mound to settle him down, and next batter Koyano rips a homer. 7-0, and you don’t come back very often from 7-0.
Game 2’s errors were absolutely crucial, though. Lotte took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the 4th thanks to the Imae and Iguchi homers. In top 5, Imae booted a fairly routine Obiki grounder, and Obiki would eventually come in to score on a Sho timely.
The other two errors were the root cause of the loss. Top 11, Carlos Rosa (Mr Unluckly) issues a 1-out walk to Koyano, Nakajima in as pinch runner. When Nakajima tries to steal second, Emura fires the throw short of the bag, bouncing into center. Rosa gets Taniguchi to line out for out two, and Ichikawa for out three, except AGAIN Hosoya boots the ball, this time while at short.
There were a bunch of moves, especially in game 2, that I have to be frank in admitting that I did not see the logic. Hosoya at third instead of Imae – OK, I understand Imae needs a rest. But at short in game 2? When Cruz is available? And even if you give Hosoya the start, wouldn’t you go for defense in the late and extra innings? Also in game 2, second inning, Hamu up 1-0, runner on second with two outs. The call was made to have the outfield play extremely shallow – Murata hit a fly ball that either Huffman or Ishimine surely would have caught at normal depth, but it cleared both and went for an RBI triple. Combine that play with the pair of unearned runs and you have a game that was not only winnable but should have been won, instead was fumbled away.
Next series up – Rival Series at Seibu Dome this week. Seibu and Rakuten are right on Our Marines’ tails, and we’re playing both teams next.