Ok, maybe we can pretend this past weekend’s games didn’t happen. After all, it seems the 2014 edition of Our Marines have short memories anyway. This team has shown it’s capable of winning in short spurts, only to just as quickly be forgetful when it comes to maintaining that success. The last two weekends are a case in point. We started interleague play riding a 5 game win streak, which included a sweep of the storied Giants two weekends ago. Then we turn around and get swept in our own stadium by the lowly BayStars the following weekend. Sandwich a 2-2 road trip in the middle and you end up with a what seems like season’s worth of ups and down in just 2+ months.
Even after last week’s 2-4 campaign, we are still in a tie for 2nd in the interleague top record race, only a half game behind the Chunichi Dragons. Tuesday & Wednesday’s opponent just happens to be those same Dragons. The end of this series marks the halfway point of the interleague portion of the season. We’ll have played each CL team twice. Let’s try and end this first leg with a couple of wins and get back in the first place spot.
By: Craig Roberts Another frustrating loss. This time in extras, after Lotte tied it at 4-4 in the 7th. Despite a lead off double in the 8th, lead off single in the 9th, and a 2-on 1-out chance in the 11th, Our Marines couldn't plate a fifth runner. Meanwhile, Chunichi broke a 4-4 tie in the top of the 11th to take the game 5-4...
Both pitchers had 1-2-3 first innings, Wakui recording 2 K’s in the opening frame. Hector Luna led off the top of the 2nd with a solo home run to left-center, giving the Dragons the early 1-0 lead. A two out Hirata double later in the inning would cause no further harm to Wakui’s run line. Lotte’s only hit though 3 was a 2-out Kakunaka single in the 2nd. So it’s 1-0 Chunichi after 3.
Innings 4 & 5:
Luna got to Wakui again after a lead off single by Oshima in the 4th. A high shot off Luna’s bat sent Ogino crashing into the wall in center. He got a glove on the ball with his body twisting away from the field, but the ball bounced off his glove as he bounced off the wall. Ogino turned around to grab the ball at the base of the wall, giving Luna enough time to reach 3rd on the RBI triple. A ground out and walk later, and Wakui escaped a 2-out runners on the corners jam getting Hirata to ground into a 4-6-3 double play.
Our Marines struck right back in the bottom frame. Captain Daichi led off with bounding ball down the line in left. Although the ball was cut off down the line, Daichi was able to leg out the double. Iguchi followed with a double between the left and center fielders to cut the lead to 2-1. After an Imae grounder couldn’t advance Iguchi, Chad Huffman came up and smacked a single into left. Iguchi scores. After a wide turn from first, Huffman retreats back on a throw from the plate to second. The throw sails way over second base and into center, so Chad “Huff-n-Hustle” Huffman does a 180 and slides head-first safely into second. Tie game 2-2! After a Kakunaka ground out, an Emura walk put two on and two out for Hosoya, but he struck out swinging to end the 4th.
Wakui struck out 2 in the 5th to send the Dragons down 1-2-3. Ogino had a one out single in the bottom half, but that was all from the Lotte bats. The score remained tied at 2.
Innings 6 & 7:
A nice diving catch by Huffman in left recorded the 2nd Dragons out in the 6th. Then Wakui had one of his Wakui moments. A walk to Luna (understandable), and then a walk to the next batter Morino and now Chunichi has a 2-out chance. Wada sent a deep fly ball to the wall in the left. Huffman laid out for it again, but just missed the ball as it bounced off the warning track. Both runs score on the triple, 4-2 Dragons.
Our Marines came back in Lucky 7’s to tie it though. Ishimine and Hosoya led off with singles, but a Katoh bunt resulted in a force out at 3rd for the 1st out. Never fear though, as Nemoto swings at the first pitch he sees for a grounder up the middle and into center. Ishimine comes around and scores from second, and the throw goes to third. Luna cannot glove the ball on a bounce though, and it flies by him and into foul ground. Katoh pops up from his slide and heads home to tie the game at 4!
Innings 8 & 9:
Carlos Rosa works around a two out walk for a scoreless 8th. Imae led off the bottom of the 8th with a double off the wall in right. A Huffman walk made it 2-on and 0 out. Kakunaka grounded out to first to advance the runners. Then, as seems to be the our M.O. lately in late inning chances, the next 2 batters Yoshida and Hosoya struck out looking. Chance blown.
Nishino struck out 2 in a 1-2-3 top of the 9th. Once again Lotte could NOT bring home a lead off hit in the bottom frame. This time a Katoh single was followed by a Kanazawa sac bunt, Ishimine fly out, and Iguchi strike out on a pitch that should have ran the count full. Let’s go to extras.
Mausda gave up a 1 out single, but nothing else in the 10th. Chiba went down 1-2-3, so we headed to the 11th.
The 11th didn’t go so well with Ohtani on the mound. Luna completed the extra-base cycle (3-for-3; HR, 3B, 2BB, 2B) with a lead off double. A Morino single and intentional pass to Wada loaded em up. The next batter Hirata sent a fly ball to right. It was shallow enough for Katoh to get under it and take a couple of steps to get some momentum on his throw home to try and nail Luna tagging from third. The problem was, the throw home deflected off the mound and toward the third base side of home. Luna is safe. 5-4 Dragons.
Matsunaga replaced Ohtani with 2 runners in scoring position and prevented any further damage with two groundouts. Our Marines would get a chance to keep this game going with just one run, or walk off with 2 in the bottom of the 11th. Saburo led off with a first pitching swinging pop out to the catcher in foul ground. 1 out. Hosoya walked on 4 pitches and Katoh took the first pitch he saw and sent it to center for a hit. Chance! 2 on 1 out. Up next is Kanazawa. Ground ball to short. 6-3 double play. Game over. Wow.
So many chances in the late innings, and yet again utter impotence. This seems to be a trend lately, and I’m not liking it.
By Steve Novosel On Wednesday night at QVC Marine Field, Our Marines fell behind twice - the second time by 3 runs - before storming back to score 7 unanswered and win the final game of the homestand by a 9-6 margin. And you know who was in the thick of things again? Yes, Mr. Huff-n-Hustle himself.
One thing that CANNOT be said about this game is that it was just “more of the same” for Chiba – that is, quality pitching wasted by anemic offensive production. Nope, this game was a bit more like the series with Yakult 2 weeks ago, and like those games Chiba came out on top. Let’s see how it happened.
Getting Behind Early
New Lefty Ace Furuya’s been a bit brutal as of late, and he’s in danger of losing New Lefty Ace status to the ascendant Fujioka (if he hasn’t already). Furuya has been beaten up a bit in 2 of his previous 4 starts, wasn’t very effective in another with a solid QS mixed in. Unfortunately, Wednesday’s game was probably the worst start of the most recent 5 starts.
The troubles started right away as Furuya needed to scramble after giving up a pair of singles in the first, though escape he did (taking 32 pitches to do so). In the second, though – no such luck. Old-But-Still-Somehow-Terrifying Wada led off that frame with a double, and Hirata mooshed a ball into the left field seats for a 2-0 Chunichi lead.Lotte erased that lead quickly, though. In the bottom of the second, Chad Huffman reached via a fielding error on Luna. Kakunaka worked Dragons starter Ono for a walk, and with one out Emura singled to load the bases to bring up Nemoto (with Furuya on deck) – interestingly, Furuya was not warming up during Nemo’s AB, Yoshida was. Would Itoh pull Furuya in the second inning? Nope – Nemo grounded out slowly to second, too slowly for a DP. Huff in, 2-1 game! With the one run in Furuya stayed in to bat, and he fought hard, fouling off several pitches before reaching on an infield single to score Kakunaka and tie the game. Great way to help himself out!
Fast forward to the 4th – Furuya gets Wada swinging on strike three, but the ball escapes Emura and goes to the fence, and Wada to first. Egads. That turned into a critical play as two batter later, fearsome power hitter extraordinaire Takeyama (career .193 hitter, 2 homers in 12 years) jacked one to left – no longer a tie game, 4-2 Chunichi. A walk, a single, and another RBI single (by Oshima) later – 5-2 Dragons, and the end of Furuya’s evening. Yick.
The Hit Parade
The first reduction in the deficit came in the bottom of the 4th, as Kakunaka scored on a Nemoto ground out after leading off the inning with a double. Just one run, but the 5-3 deficit is much better than 5-2.
Bottom 5 – Daichi drew a one-out walk from Ono, and Iguchi singled up the middle to get a chance going. Here comes Gori – and nooo he grounds into an inning-ending double play – WAIT! Second baseman Tani throws the ball away, and Daichi scores to make it 5-4! Next up is Huffman – he singles up the middle to score Iguchi and tie the game at 5-5. Nice comeback!
Ueno took over for Furuya and maintained the status quo for 2 1/3 innings before giving way to Masuda. Masuda – well, he got himself into a heap of trouble with back to back singles with only 1 out in the 7th. He got Takeyama swinging for the second out, and when Tanishige-kantoku pinch hit with NPB legend Ogasawara, Itoh went to the pen for Matsunaga. All our second year lefty could do was strike out Ogasawara on three pitches – a masterful performance to keep it tied at 5.
Bottom 8 – still tied, rookie Sobue pitching for Chunichi. First batter is Imae – he’s singling, and that brings up the very hot Huff-n-Hustle show. Huff rakes a pitch down the left field line, all the way to the fence. Imae’s hauling, he gets sent home, the throw is on time and on target, but dropped! Huff makes it to third, Lotte leads 6-5!
This is where things turned from great to awesome. Next batter is Kakunaka – RBI single. Then it’s Nemoto – RBI double down the right field line. Here comes pinch hitter Saburo – deep fly ball to left and a stand up double! In the course of 6 batters (there was an Emura sac bunt mixed in) the tie is broken and the game turned into a 9-5 laugher. Great stuff!
It’s not even a save situation anymore, so Rosa gets the hill in the 9th. Ignore the leadoff homer to make it 9-6, at this point everyone knew the victory belonged to Our Marines.
Up next are the road rematches for the Tokyo battles, starting with a Friday/Saturday set at Jingu. The hot Ishikawa gets the nod – can Lotte build on this win?