Series Preview: It’s Legend Series time, and who doesn’t love an excuse to break out the throwback uniforms? Honestly these old unis – they’re the old road blues from the Orions days – are my favorite Lotte uniform. Love the blue with the red accent, and I wish we played in the Orions-era uniforms (both road and home) more often.
By Steve Novosel In a battle of unexpected if not inexplicable starters, Lotte's rookie setupper Matsunaga out-dueled Hamu's occasional starter but mostly reliever Tanimoto, with Our Marines sending plenty of men across the plate in a 8-2 Chiba win.
Not only was it the first game of the Legend Series, but also it was the final Beer Stadium of the year, so on this very hot and sticky Friday night QVC was completely stuffed with those looking to get drunk for half the price it would normally take1. Oh, and watch some baseball.
1I’m only being half cynical/jokey here – I spoke to several people who specifically said they only come on Beer Stadium night and only come for the cheap beer. Well, if that’s the case they got a fun game thrown into the mix.
The Fighters got on the board first thanks to some first inning jitters by Matsunaga and dodgy defense by Imae. Akada led off with a single but was picked off trying to steal almost immediately. Ohbiki drew a walk next, and Matsunaga induced Yoh Daikan to ground to Imae for the inning ending DP…. that Imae dropped, picked up, fired late and wide to first – oops. You can guess what was next – a liner to right by Abreu that Kakunaka made a valiant effort to snag (it was an Okada 3-ball) but ultimately could not – 1-0 Hamu.
Getting that one run back? Not a problem since Tanimoto did not look effective at any point in time. Lotte tied it up immediately, as Nemoto led off the first by getting hit by a pitch. After a (grr) sac bunt by T OGINO and a fly out by Iguchi, Imae drew a walk. Kakunaka smoothly knocked in Nemoto with a single in front of Yoh – tie game.
Our Marines had another great chance in the next inning as Satozaki and Okada singled with one out, but Nemoto grounded into a DP to end the chance. But we didn’t despair – in the third inning Chiba was back at it. Consecutive walks by T OGINO and Iguchi started the inning, and Imae beat out an infield hit to make it a full base, no out chance. Kakunaka up again, he’s swinging, driving – just foul, but plenty long. Kakunaka waited for another pitch to drive but it didn’t come – instead, he drew a walk to make it 2-1 Lotte.
Tanimoto knuckled down and struck out GG Sato and Daichi – it looked as if the one run might be all we got out of the inning. But Satozaki would have other ideas, hitting a little single to left that brought in a pair and ran the score to 4-1.
Meanwhile Matsunaga breezed through the second and third innings in order before running into a rough patch in the 4th. A double, single and walk with two outs loaded the bases for Nakashima, but Nakashima grounded into the final out of the inning. Matsunaga breezed through the 5th as well before getting pulled to start the 6th. Final line: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 5 Ks, and one undeserved run. Not bad at all.
Our Marines turned it into a bit of a laugher in the 4th, thanks to some nice hits and lousy defense from Hamu. A pair of walks and a single by Imae loaded the bases with one out – Nemoto scored on a passed ball to make it 5-1. After a Kakunaka ground out, GG Sato singled to left to score Iguchi. Imae headed home on the play but the throw by Akada was offline even though Imae would have been out for sure – that made it 7-1 Lotte. Nice!
The Fighters got a run back off an ineffective Ueno, but Hattori, Ledezma, Nakagoh (just back at ichi-gun!) and Uchi allowed nothing the rest of the way.
There was one more bit of scoring – GG Sato pummeled the first pitch from Kagiya in the 7th to very deep left field. That made it the final score – 8-2 Chiba!
By Steve Novosel Game 2 followed a similar script as Game 1 - give up an early run, tie it right after, score a whole bunch to make the late innings pretty meaningless.
I could get used to that.
This time it was a regular starter, Greisinger, vs another regular starter in Keppel. How boring2! The conditions were very bad for this one – hot to start the game, and really, really windy the whole time. Not unexpected weather for QVC, I suppose, but a bit unusual for August.
The wind was really messing with both pitchers. Hamu scored in the first via a leadoff double by Nishikawa, a sac bunt, and a sac fly by Yoh. 1-0 Fighters after 1. Again.
Our Marines got it right back, though, as Iguchi drove in Nemoto from second via single to tie it at 1, though Iguchi was gunned down at second trying to steal as Imae was striking out.
Greisinger had to fight hard against the wind but was ultimately successful. Keppel – not so much. He was all over the place, his pitches nowhere near his intended target. And with the wind blowing so hard, the Hamu fielders couldn’t field what would normally have been routine pops or foul outs. Good for us. That led to Kakunaka singling in a run after almost popping out in the third: hitting a high pop to second – no, short – no, third – no, it drops in fair! – no it had so much wind spin on it that it went foul. BIZARRE. Braz walked to load the bases for Daichi, who singled in a run as well to make it 3-1.
Bases still loaded for Satozaki, but he hits
a routine fly ball to Ohtani in left to end the inning nothing is routine today! That ball came back in towards the infield – Koyano going out, Ohtani coming in, nobody getting it! Satozaki is on second with a weird double, three more Chiba-jin across the plate and yet again we have a laugher, 6-1 Lotte.
Seth made it 5 innings giving up just the one run (and another unearned on in the 5th) for the win. Hamu made the game a bit interesting in the late innings, though, as Fujioka gave up a deep solo shot to Akada in the 6th, while the Fighters scored another unearned pair in the 9th. This was a bit interesting – Masuda closed it and “struck out the side” – well, except for a Nemoto fielding error followed immediately by a line drive homer by Yoh. Other than that little 0 ER speed bump Masuda struck out the side, that is, preserving a QVC special 7-5 Lotte win.
Rakuten lost, Hawks won, so Our Marines are 4.5 back of the Eagles and 3 up on Daiei to end the month. Lotte also had a PL-best 16-11 record in August which almost sorta kinda makes up for that pile of crap we had to watch in July. We haven’t swept a series in quite some time despite those wins, so let’s hope September starts with a wrap up of that sweep.
By Steve Novosel SWEEP! SWEEP! And in SAYONARA style!
That's right Lotte fans - Our Marines completed the sweep of the Fighters in style - a fantastic 4-3 come from behind sayonara WIN! It's the first series sweep since Golden Week, and with the win and the Rakuten loss, Chiba is just 3.5 games out of first with 27 games left.
Deep breath.Lotte bats were smothered early on by Hamu starter Yoshikawa. Nemoto led off the Lotte first with a single, and T OGINO, Iguchi, and Imae all hit deep balls but they turned into easy outs. After that, Yoshikawa prevented Chiba from getting anything going until the 5th inning, when… Wait. Getting ahead of things.
Our Ohtani pitched somewhere between the Orix disaster and last week’s nice start in Fukuoka. It wasn’t THAT bad of a start, I suppose, though he got in trouble twice and had to be pulled in the 5th. In the second, their Ohtani (nowhere near as famous as our Ohtani, I’ll tell ya!) poked a little one out single, and after I stupidly mentioned to friend-of-blog Deanna that Koyano was having a pretty off season, he blasted a booming shot into the stands in left center. Oops – 2-0 Fighters.
In the 5th, Hamu got a big, big chance going. A single by Tsuruoka and a walk to Imanami brought up Yok Daikan with two outs, and he made Ohtani pay for his pitching sins with a double down the left field line. That’s 3-0 Fighters at this point, and after a walk to Abreu (a wise move, I’d say) Ohtani was pulled for Fujioka.
Fujioka, our jack-of-all-trades ace middle reliever/long reliever/starter ended the threat with a single pitch. Whew. And folks – that’s the last time the Fighters would threaten seriously in this game. Yup, it was another bullpen masterpiece.
Back to the bats. Good Yoshikawa would take a seat on the bench in the 5th, and Bad Yoshikawa climbed on the hill. Nice. Thanks. We were a bit down about the three run deficit. Bad Yoshikawa gave up a leadoff single to GG Sato, and after a 2-out interlude Okada would beat out an infield hit. A Nemoto walk jammed up the sacks for T OGINO – he grounds a ball to Koyano at third, Koyano lets it dribble by, GG Sato races in (ahem) – Lotte down just 3-1 now! That brought up the ageless Iguchi, who took full advantage of fumbly Koyano and Bad Yoshikawa, terrorizing a 3-2 changeup for a huge, two run single! Yup, tie game!
Good Yoshikawa came out for two more innings but who cares – we got the tie we needed. Another chance would come. It came in the 9th.
Satozaki singled with one out – Ishimine in to pinch run. Emura is up from ni-gun so the catching situation is solid if extras are needed, speed is needed now. Okada up, bunting, bunting very very very badly, right to Ishii for out 2. Nemoto is at the plate – Ishimine picks up his sad teammate with a quick swipe of second. Nemoto works the count, he runs it full. On the 6th pitch of the at bat, Nemoto swings and laces a single to left. Ishimine was running on the pitch and he is ultra fast, Akada fields it but you and I and the beer girls and most definitely Nemoto know that Akada’s got no chance at Ishimine! SAFE! VICTORY!!!
YEAH! What a great way to start September!
Our Marines are moving on to Kansai for a three game set with the reeling Buffaloes. Time to keep chipping away at that very vulnerable Eagles lead.