After a brutal opening series, Our Marines are poised to officially open up QVC Marine Field for 2014. The home opener features our Kanto rivals the Seibu Lions, who are also winless thus far. You may remember the Lions from Stage One of last year’s Climax Seires, where we took two of three in Tozorazawa to end their season. We also crossed paths in the offseason with Class A free agent pitcher Hideaki Wakui deciding to dump Seibu in order to sign with Lotte for two years, 440 million yen. Hopefully we can rebound from the weekend’s sweep, starting Tuesday night and on to Wednesday and Thursday for twin matinee 2:00 starts.
By Craig Roberts The Lions were able to exact some level of revenge for last year’s Climax defeat, spoiling our 2014 home opener and handing Wakui an L in his Lotte debut. This was also the fourth game to start the season that Lotte bats put up a single digit in the hits column, while their opponent had 10+ men hit safely.
Let’s start with Wakui. Lotte fans were a little unsure what to expect after witnessing a series of atrocious open-sen starts. A 1-2-3 first inning quelled some of those worries though. Wakui needed and got a double play for a scoreless second, but finally gave up his first runs in a 2-run third for Seibu. Wakui worked around a leadoff double in the fourth, and a 2-out walk in the fifth to keep the Lions run total at two runs. After recording the second out of the sixth, Wakui was pulled with 118 pitches thrown leaving a man on at first. Hattori came in and gave up two hits to allow the inherited runner to score, Wakui’s third earned run. Ohtani relieved Hattori to get the third out. Wakui’s final line: 118P, 5 2/3 IP, 5H, 5K, 4BB, 1HBP, 3ER.
Things started well Our Marines at the plate, with Kakunaka driving in Kiyota with a single for the first run of the game in the first. Only mustering six hits for the game, the Chiba bats failed to produce another run until the eighth. Meanwhile, the Lions tacked on a solo HR off the all-rookie battery of Yoshihara & Yoshida in the top of the eighth to make it 4-1. The lone Lotte run in the bottom frame could have been more, when Imae came to the plate with a no out, runners on the corners chance. Instead, we traded one run for two outs on a bases clearing Imae double play ball, only narrowing the lead to 4-2. Asamura added a two run dinger for Seibu in the top of the ninth off Yoshihara to put the game out of reach at 6-2. Togame closed us out without much of a threat in the bottom half, ending our chances for that elusive first win of the year.
By: Craig Roberts Our Marines came tantalizingly close to picking up their first win of the season. Down 3-1 in the bottom of the 9th, we had a no out bases loaded chance. Let’s back up to the start of the home half of the 9th, and pick it up from there…
Seibu’s Togame came in to try and close out Lotte for the second game in a row. Captain Daichi got us going with a lead-off walk, followed by Iguchi who took a 3-2 pitch for ball four. Imae drove a ball the opposite way, one hopping it past the diving second baseman and into right field. The table was set, the bases loaded for Kakunaka. No outs, tying run at second, go ahead run at first.
Kakunaka flied an 0-1 pitch into right field. 1 out. Craig Brazell came into pinch hit1, worked the count to 3-2, then lined a ball into center. The ball missed the barrel of the bat though, hanging up long enough for an easy catch. 2 out. The next pinch hitter was Saburo2, with stud rookie Aja Inoue3 waiting on deck. Saburo also ran the count up to 3-2, then fouled off four more pitches in order to stay alive. Finally on the tenth pitch, he grounded out to short. Game over.
1 For Kiyota
2 For Emura
3 PH for Satozaki in 8th
Other than the ninth inning drama, today’s game felt much like the previous four games. In fact, Our Marines have only led after 2 of 45 innings played so far this season.
– Furuya had a rough first inning, giving up three runs on three hits, a walk and a HBP. After that though, he settled in quite nicely for our first quality start of the year. He finished with: 7IP, 102P, 6H, 5K, 1BB, 1IBB, 1HBP, 3ER. Subtract that first inning and the line reads 6 innings, 3 scattered hits, 0 runs, and 6 strike outs.
– The superb sophomore Katoh went 2-for-3 (2 of the team’s 5 hits) on the day with a run and sac bunt in the leadoff spot. The run came in the first inning on an Iguchi single.
– Our offense showed some signs of life after Katoh’s hit to lead off the 6th. With the next batter Daichi up however, Seibu guessed right in calling a pitch-out with the Katoh taking off for second. Daichi tried to make contact with a ball way out of the zone, but couldn’t. It was still a close play, but Katoh was out at second. This was a particularly deflating moment from my point of view, a tough break and sign of things just not going our way.
– Kiyota made a pretty sick grab on a frozen rope to start off the 7th. We’re 0-5 to start the year, let’s end on a positive note. See footage below.
Aja & Funassyi having some fun in the rain. Whatever it takes to turn our fortunes around. WE WILL WIN TOMORROW!!!