The batting order seems to have been optimized – after weeks of frustration at the plate, Our Marines have put up 8, 7, 8, 5, 6, and 6 runs up in the past 3 series. Now the pitching needs some optimization as well, as despite those high scoring outputs Chiba is just 3-3 in those six games.
Chiba heads to Nagoya for two games with the Dragons. Of course, I have very fond memories of my last trip to Nagoya – hard to believe it has been almost 4 years – but last year’s series was a bit of a disaster, so even though 2014 Chunichi is nowhere near the quality team Our Marines faced in 2010 they need to be careful. The starters should be Wakui and Ishikawa.
By Steve Novosel Keeping in line with recent trends, Lotte pounded Chunichi pitching for 8 runs, which was plenty to support Birthday Boy Wakui for his first win in almost two months.
The Lotte scoring got going in the second, as Saburo hit kind of a bloop homer, if such a thing exists (nobody including Saburo thought it was going to be fair or over the fence, but it was both) – Imae was on so that’s 2-0 Lotte.
In the 4th inning, Cruz drove in Saburo with a lovely double, and after an Ishimine walk and steal, T OGINO drove in both Cruz and Ishimine with a bloop single. 5-0 Lotte after top 4.
Could be easy street with that sort of lead, but no. A Hernandez homer to dead center leading off bottom 4 got the Chunichi scoring started, and a pair of walks plus a Fujii triple continued it as Chunichi pushed three across the plate to bring the game closer at 5-3 Lotte.
The pen took over for Wakui in the 6th, and the recent overuse really seems to have taken a toll. Masuda struck out the side in the 6th but scattered a pair of hits in between. Carlos Rosa took the 7th, but gave up a run in his 4th straight appearance thanks to 3 Dragons hits, the last by the old-but-still-terrifying Wada. 5-4 Chiba after 7.
Top 8 – Kanazawa (playing FIRST?!) led off with a single, and after a pointless Emura bunt Braz pounded a pitch from reliever Fukutani for a 2-run shot, and a much more comfortable 7-4 lead. And in the 8th, Nemoto sac fly’ed in Cruz for the final Chiba run – 8-4 after top 9. It should be noted that Our Marines actually could have pushed a lot more across in the last 2 innings, but 3 runs was plenty.
Nishino came in for a non-save situation, and the Luna/Wada combination was lethal again as Chunichi plated one last runner to make it an 8-5 game, but Nishino punched out Hirata to secure the win.
By Steve Novosel T OGINO slapped the second pitch of the game off Chunichi starter Daisuke Yamai for a hit and two batters later Kakunaka brought him in for the very early 1-0 lead.
And that, folks, is the entirety of today's highlights for Lotte as Chunichi beat up rookie Ishikawa for 16 hits and 9 runs (7 earned) in a total disaster of a game.
There’s no angle or insight I can give you to better understand this one. I suppose the key play was a Nemoto error (Nemoto starting at first today. First!) that essentially allowed three runs to score in the 3rd, and turned a 2-1 game into a 5-1 game, but really the way Ishikawa pitched there wasn’t going to be much hope for his start anyway.
The real question is why Itoh left Ishikawa in to get killed. Last week he was pitching much better vs Carp but was pulled after 3, and this week he’s allowed to go 6 and 109 pitches despite looking gassed. Is there ever a good reason to keep a pitcher in for that long? Seriously, that’s 19 baserunners not counting the error! I am sure the official rationale is to preserve the pen with games the next two nights, but if the pen isn’t so terribly overused in the first place this is not an issue. Games like this are what the pen is for, after all.
The offense was pretty limp as well after the first inning, ending the 7 game streak of 5 runs or more. After the 4th inning there were just 4 hits, and they were truly scattered. How did the extra run score? Off a wild pitch, of course.
I’ve decided I’m just going to forget this game ever happened. Let’s get some wins at Jingu tomorrow and Tuesday.