Lotte: Hideaki Wakui @ Daiei: Tadashi SettsuLotte Fans – the season has just begun for Our Marines, and am overjoyed to report so far it is a SMASHING success!
This report will be a bit brief – I’m writing this from Fukuoka as I prepare to go to the stadium for the second game of the series. With the departure of Naruse to Yakult via free agency this offseason the choice for opening ace really only came down to two pitchers – rookie of the year Ishikawa or Wakui. Itoh went with Wakui, which I think is a wise choice despite Ishikawa’s better season, given Wakui’s many years of experience including several go’s as opening day starter in Tokorozawa. New Daiei manager Kudoh went with ace Settsu for his starter.
For the first five innings both Wakui and Settsu kept any runners from plating. That’s not to say there wasn’t drama – in three of the first six we Lotte fans had to stand and cheer Wakui to give him the strength to get out of big jams. In the 1st, 3rd, and 6th frames Wakui exited cleanly with huge punch-outs to keep the Hawks off the board. His final line – 6 IP, 6 hits, 4 BB, 4 K, and crucially no runs allowed. That’s great work against a loaded lineup on the road.
In last year’s opener both the pitching and the defense imploded for Chiba, but this year it was Daiei’s defense that failed. In the 6th, T OGINO reached on an infield single and advanced to third on a steal + bad throw by Tsuruoka. Captain Daichi singled cleanly to center to plate OGINO for the first run of the year and a 1-0 Lotte lead.
That wasn’t all for the scoring in that inning – Kakunaka singled next, and Imae smashed a liner that was snagged by a diving Honda, who made an unassisted double play. Damn. BUT an Iguchi single moved Kakunaka to third, and El Cochito Cruz lined a ball right through the legs of Matsuda at third to bring in Kakunaka and make it 2-0 Chiba.
That score held until the 9th, where veteran Iguchi drilled the second pitch he saw DEEP into the left field stands to make it a 3-0 game. That was plenty for closer Nishino, whose bottom of the 9th is probably better left undiscussed but HEY it’s a WIN!
And with that win it was time to sing.
— Steve@ロッテのゴールデンイヤー！ (@lovelovemarines) March 27, 2015