Interleague Game 9: Kanto Battle part 1

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Today the Swallows returned to San Juan Capistrano Chiba Marine Stadium for the first time in 2009, and the first of the 4 interleague matches. Lotte returned home in winning fashion after the 2-game sweep at the hands of Hiroshima, beating Tokyo 6-3.

I certainly love to watch a Lotte win but it’s always a bit melancholy against a team you like. I’ve been to many Swallows games at Jingu in the past and even own a nice fitted Yakult cap, plus I enjoy keeping up with Swallows news at the great Tsubamegun blog. That being said, for 4 games a year I am decidedly anti-Swallows. No offense.

It was a bit of a grim day with a 60% chance of rain in the forecast. The threat of rain kept many fans away (attendance was just over 15,000) but didn’t hurt the Lotte bats. Pitching was a bit shaky for both teams early. In the first, Swallows starter Yuki got two quick outs, walked Saburo, and gave up a big blast to right-center by Iguchi. I had just shifted seats maybe 5 minutes before to be closer to the RF foul pole; the ball landed really close to where I was sitting previously.

Armed with a 2-0, Lotte starter Naruse took the hill for the first time since his relief appearance on Tuesday. He looked a bit rusty out of the gate, allowing a pair of baserunners in both the first and third innings but keeping them from coming home.

Lotte gave him more support in the 3rd with a big 2-out rally. Saburo got it started with a double to left and Yuki smartly walked Iguchi after getting in an 0-3 hole, but Ohmatsu made him pay with a single to left to score Saburo. The recently quiet Satozaki caused more damage with a 2-run double to right.

Lotte fans break out the nets for Ohmatsu's AB

Lotte fans break out the nets for Ohmatsu's AB

Benny singled to move Sato to third and Burnham Jr drew a walk to load them up, but Imae hit a weak pop to end the inning. 5-0, but it could have been more.

Naruse immediately gave 2 of the runs back in the top of the 4th on a leadoff double by Guiel, a single by Hatakeyama, and a 2-run double by Miyamoto. He fought his way out of the inning, though, and kept Lotte up 5-2.

Lotte added an insurance run in the 7th off a leadoff double by Tsuyoshi. He was pulled (!) for pinch runner Hayasaka, who stole third after Fukuura’s strikeout. Saburo brought him home on a sac fly to center, making it 6-2.

Lotte supporters propel Saburo to a hit

Lotte supporters propel Saburo to a hit

Ogino came in to finish the game in the 9th but was uncharacteristically shaky, giving up a run for only the second game this year on three singles. He did eventually get the job done, securing a 6-3 victory for Lotte.

Lotte looks to execute a two-game sweep of their own on Sunday as Ohmine faces Swallows starter Kawashima.

Banzai!  Naruse and Iguchi are today's heroes

Banzai! Naruse and Iguchi are today's heroes

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