As this series happened a few days back I’ll keep this brief.
Lotte moved to Hiroshima after the Hanshin series for a 2-game set. Unfortunately I couldn’t make it to either game as I would really have liked to have seen the lovely new Mazda Stadium. I was in Hiroshima a few weeks previously but the Carp were on the road at the time. I noticed with the new stadium that Carp management were really, really pushing the merchandising now. There were many Carp boutiques, Carp snacks, Carp drinks, Carp straps, and Carp Crap in general as I wandered around town. It’s nice to see teams making an effort to market themselves properly rather than the half-assed way some teams seem to do (see: Orix).
On to the action, or what little good action there was for Lotte fans. Lotte stood a real good chance of taking the first game in the series as this season’s young ace Karakawa took the hill in a duel of youth versus Hiroshima’s 20-year old starter Maeda. Karakawa unfortunately had his worst outing of the year by far, getting rocked for 6 runs in 6 innings of work, thanks to timely hitting by the Carp bats and crappy defense by Lotte (3 errors on the evening). Hiroshima takes the opener 8-3 as Karakawa takes the loss.
Thursday’s game was played down the road in neighboring Kure, home of the supposedly lovely Yamato Museum that was inexplicably closed when I was in town. If the current trend continued Lotte would win the next game; in every series so far during interleague the two teams have split. The trend did not continue, though, as Hiroshima completed the sweep with a 4-3 victory. Lotte starter Kobayashi continued his very hard luck season as he dropped to 0-4. Lotte held the early 3-1 lead but couldn’t score anymore despite 12 hits on the night. Lotte’s defense again was very shaky indeed, with 2 errors on the night leading to two unearned runs, giving Hiroshima the margin of victory. This loss for Kobayashi comes on the heels of the Sunday rainout at Koshien, the blown save by Ogino in his previous start, and the 2-0 monsoon-shortened debacle vs Nippon Ham.
Lotte will just need to salvage a split in the season series with a sweep when the Carp come to Chiba Marine the second week of June!