Interleague Series 12: Lotte @ Yakult, 23-24 June 2014

jinguSeries Preview:

So our last 9 games? LWLWLWLWL. Yep, that’s alternating wins and losses. This of course gets us to where we are now. 11-11 in interleague with two makeup games left. Hopefully we can finish interleague the way we started it with a sweep of the Swallows.

There are a couple of roster moves before this series starts. Rosa, Ogino, and Yoshida are sent down. Rosa could sure use some rest, and it looks like Ogino will be out for a while with a fractured shoulder. Yoshida appears to have a case of being-a-rookie. Naruse and Kawamoto come up for this series, with Naruse pitching in the first game. Hopefully he’s worked out his issues in ni-gun.

 

Game 1 - Lotte WINS 10-3 (Click to Expand)

Lotte: Yoshihisa Naruse (4-6 5.01) @ Yakult: Kenichi Matsuoka (1-0 4.11)

By: Craig Roberts Our Marines enjoyed a three run first inning, one run second, and five run third en route to a 10-3 win over the Swallows. All three foreign players on the ichi-gun roster had home runs, with a Craig Brazell solo shot in the 3rd, Chad Huffman grand slam later in the 3rd, and Luis Cruz solo jack in the 5th. Naruse threw seven innings of two-run ball for the win in his first game back up in ichi-gun.

Huff and Braz having some well deserved some post-game fun.

Huff and Braz having some well deserved some post-game fun.

The offense was definitely the story of the game, but let’s not let that overshadow Naruse’s fine start. True, he was spotted three runs before he even took the mound. What’s more important though is how Naruse recovered from his last ichi-gun start over two weeks ago – a 4 run, 9 hit, 1 inning loss to the Giants. Tonight’s line read a lot better: 7IP, 95P, 7H, 2K, 2BB, 2ER. The first run came in the second, when a double and two deep fly outs plated a run. The second run scored on a two out Hiyane double in the 7th. Despite having only one 1-2-3 inning (including some trouble in the 5th), no other Swallows would score off Naruse. The only other Swallows run scored came on a Yamada solo HR off relief pitcher Kimura in the 8th.

Now the fun part…10 Lotte runs scored! Huffman, Daichi, and Kakunaka led off the game with 3 straight singles. Kakunaka’s single was of the RBI variety, scoring Huffman for the first run. An Imae fly out to right advanced Daichi to 3rd base, bringing up Craig Brazell with 1 out and runners on the corners. Yakult 1B Araki fielded a shallow Braz grounder to the right of the mound, but threw it wide of first and down the right field line. Daichi scores, Kakunaka to 3rd and Braz is safe at 1st. 2-0 Marines! Up next, Iguchi flies out to the warning track in right, allowing Kakunaka to tag and score with ease to make it 3-0 Marines.

Lotte scored again in the second, thanks mostly to Okada. He led off with a single to left and followed that with an attempted steal of second. The throw one hopped past second base and into center (Okada had it easily beat regardless) allowing #66 to advance to 3rd. Huffman drew a walk to put runners on the corners for Daichi. Daichi grounded right to the second baseman for an easy 4-6-3 double play, but Okada snuck in the back door from third to score make it 4-0.

Now the real fun part! Home run time. Craig Brazell led off the 3rd by stepping into one and pulling a towering shot deep to right field. The ball is plenty into the stands and it’s 5-1 Chiba. Kanazawa got aboard with a one out single through the infield and into right field. Cruz does the same through the left side of the infield, and Okada draws a walk to load the bases with 1 out for Huffman. Huffman works the count to 3-2, fouls a couple off the stay alive, and then on the 8th pitch he lines a ball toward the pole in left…it’s got the height and distance to leave if it’s fair…and GONE deep into the left field seats. CHAD HUFFMAN GRANDSLAM, 9-1 CHIBA LOTTE MARINES! Not a bad way to get your first career NPB home run.

Cruz added a line drive solo homerun of his own just over the wall in left to make it 10-1 in the fifth. This was Cruz’s team leading 7th homerun. Not bad considering the next best total is Iguchi’s 6 in over 25% more AB’s. Cruz also made a ridiculous throw to nab Swallows catcher Aikawa on a ground ball deep into the hole between SS and 3B to lead off the 7th.


Game 2 - Lotte LOSES 14-3 (Click to Expand)
Lotte: Yuta Ohmine (0-0, 2.84 ERA) @ Yakult: Masanori Ishikawa (4-5, 4.57 ERA)

The game was cancelled due to rain. It will be made up on the 25th...

By: Craig Roberts Let’s make that LWLWLWLWLWL in our last 11, and an even .500 for the interleague campaign. Our Marines got crushed at Jingu tonight. If you ask me, it wasn’t the pitching the cost us this one. Yes, the Swallows put up 14 runs on the Lotte hurlers. Add Ishikawa’s fine start (7IP, 5H 1R), and it was an impressive showing from the Swallows, who deserve full credit for the blowout. If you ask me though, it was our infield defense that let Ohmine down tonight and gave away the game early.

Ohmine looked strong early, sending the Yakult lineup down 1 through 6 in the first 2 innings. He was well on his way to completing the 3rd inning, after working around leadoff single by Tanaka. A fairly routine ground ball up the middle by Morioka should have been out 3, but the ball skipped off the front of the mound suddenly providing it with some nasty front spin. Cruz misplayed a low hop and the ball went under his glove and into center. Tanaka scores from 2nd and Cruz is charged with an E6. Ueda is up next and sends base hit into center. Kiyota tracks it down before it goes too deep into right center, slides, rolls, pops up, plants his feet, fires a one hopper to second with his momentum going backwards, and nails Ueda. Nice play by Kiyota, who was called up to ichi-gun between games. The out came after Tanaka scored though, so it’s 2-0 Yakult after 3.

Ohmine has two unearned at this point, and he’s about to get two more in the 4th inning. This is where the wheels really fall off. After a one out walk to Kawabata, Takai chops a ground ball to first. It probably wouldn’t have been enough to turn two, but we’re probably looking at 1 on and 2 outs after the play.* But no, Hosoya boots it for an E3. Now it’s 2 on and 1 out. What happens next? Single, triple, single, fly out, triple, line out. When it’s all said and done, it’s 7-0 Swallows. 3 runs are charged to Ohmine, but I would bet it’s still a 2-0 game if Hosoya makes the play. Not to say Ohmine is blameless, he did basically melt down after the error. Actually, he was about to melt down after the first error in the previous inning, if not for Kiyota’s fine play to bail him out.

*I’d like to give a more detailed depiction, but thanks to the Central League we’ve got no full game VOD for interleague road games. Without any other replays of this particular play, I have no way to re-watch. This was probably the key play of the game too (at least from a Lotte perspective), the one where the following events basically hinged upon. I’m not going to miss interleague, and am very thankful for Pacific League TV. Central League, get your sh*t together.

The Swallows ran away with the game after that. Furuya gave up 3 runs in just 1/3 IP in the 5th. Hattori went 1 2/3 for 2 ER of his own in the 6th. Kimura went the 7th and 8th, surrendering 2ER in the 7th.

Cruz provided us our only offense with an RBI double to score Kakunaka in the 7th. He also had a 2 run bomb in the 9th (scoring Nemoto) to make it a 2-for-4 day with the double, HR, and 3RBI. Swallows reliever Tony Barnette apparently took exception to Cruz’s homerun trot. Or maybe Cruz took exception to Barnette’s long hair and beard. I’m not sure exactly what happened, but the two had words as Cruz crossed the plate. We won’t see the Swallows again for a while, so I’m sure that’s the end of it. Kakunaka had 2 hits, Daichi 1, and Kiyota 1 for a total of 6 Lotte hits in the game.

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