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Interleague Series 7: Lotte @ Yomiuri, 8-9 June 2014

Tokyo_Dome_20131115Series Preview:

Well, this should have been interleague series number eight. Friday and Saturday’s games got rained out though, so we’ll be making our annual trip to Jingu at the end of the interleague calendar. Unlike the Swallows, the other Tokyo club happens to have a roof over their stadium. That means Our Marines will definitely be playing baseball for the first time in four days Sunday afternoon against Yomiuri.

So, where were we with the season? Oh yes, losers of 5 of our last 7. Right. We’re two games above .500 for interleague play, but two games under for the season as a whole. Round two of interleague play gets off to a delayed start after the unscheduled break, and it begins with the Giants. We beat them twice by a combined score of 13-3 in two games in Chiba. Why not do it again?

 

Game 1 - Lotte Loses 8-1 (Click to Expand)

Lotte: Yoshihisa Naruse (4-5 4.52) @ Yomiuri: Yuki Koyama (1-0 0.00)

By: Craig Roberts A four run Yomiuri 1st inning prematurely ended Naruse’s day, with Itoh-kantoku electing to not send him back out again for the 2nd inning. Ohtani held down the fort in innings 2-6 to keep it at 4-0, but the Giants put three more on the board off Kimura in the 7th to crush any hope of a Lotte comeback. Juxtaposing Naruse’s 1 inning performance was Giants starter Koyama going the distance for his first career complete game. To be honest, it didn’t feel like we had much of a chance after the first inning anyway.

Kakunaka finds a ball in his glove in the 1st.

Kakunaka finds a ball in his glove in the 1st.

It looked we might get to Koyama early when a Daichi double over Chono’s head in center, followed by an Iguchi single, put runners on the corners in the first. Craig Brazell was up with the one out chance, but grounded right to the shortstop on the first pitch for a 6-4-3 inning ending double play.

It seems the tough luck carried right over into the bottom half of the inning. Nakai led off with a ball that skimmed off the right field wall and into a leaping Kakunaka’s glove, for what was originally called an out. A replay review rightfully changed the call to a hit. Even though Nakai was nowhere near second base, the umpire took use of his judgment to award him second. That part of the overturned call was not quite as justifiable. This sent the Giants offense into full attack mode, but in the grand scheme of things we were probably headed there anyway. Back to back singles to center by Kataoka and Sakamoto brought Nakai home for the first run. Two batters later, Murata cleared the fence and the bases with a 3 run home run to left. 4-0 Giants. Naruse got the final two outs, but the Giants sandwiched two hits in between to bat through the lineup in the 4 run 1st. That was the end of Naruse’s day.

We did have a decent chance to make a game of it in the 4th. Craig Brazell and Nemoto had back-to-back 1 out hits, and a Chad Huffman two out walk loaded the bases. Katoh came in to pinch hit for Emura, and struck out swinging on three pitches to promptly end our only real threat of the day.

As mentioned earlier, Ohtani kept the game within reach for innings 2-6. He even weathered a two-on no-out Giants chance in the 3rd by inducing a Chono momentum-killing double play for two quick outs. Kimura did not fare as well in relief. The Giants tagged him for 3 scores on 2 walks and 4 base hits to run the total up to 7-0. The inning did end somewhat satisfyingly with Huffman nailing Abe at the plate, Abe out by a mile and coming up almost as short on his slide.

Yomiuri added another run in the 8th on a Cepeda solo shot to right off Ueno. Our Marines finally got a run off Koyama in the 9th after a Kakunaka infield single and Chad Huffman RBI double. Later in the inning, with two on and two out, a sinking liner off Daichi’s bat was caught by a diving Kamei in left to seal the complete game victory for Koyama. 8-1 final.

Game 2 - Lotte Loses 5-3 (Click to Expand)
Lotte: Ayumu Ishikawa (4-2, 2.81 ERA) @ Yomiuri: Nobutaka Imamura (1-1, 8.22 ERA)

By Steve Novosel Personally I was quite disappointed that the entire series at Jingu this last weekend was rained. Really disappointed. But if that series was going to turn out anything like this series, I'm glad it was rained out so I didn't have to see it in person. While Game 2 was not as awful a spectacle as Game 1, it was still pretty bad to watch as yet another unheralded young pitcher silenced the Lotte bats and Our Marines dropped yet another game, 5-3.

With that, Chiba has dropped 6 of 7 and is now in the bottom half of the interleague standings.

I thought the Yamaguchi game at QVC might have been an aberration, but no, it looks like this team really does have issues with scoring runs as currently constructed. How else to explain recording only 5 hits versus a pitcher making just his 8th career start, and one who has had just one quality start this year?

Let’s look at our pitching – rookie Ishikawa pitched 3 lovely starts in a row after being beaten up in a pair of consecutive starts in May. And right off the bat tonight, Ishikawa struck out Kamei looking on three straight pitches. But that, unfortunately, was the highlight of the evening.

After that AB, Ishikawa got himself in trouble with runners in scoring position in both the first and second innings, but didn’t allow any runs. In the third, though, three straight hits punctuated by a Murata single plated one. Ishikawa got Abe to fly out and looked like he punched out Cepeda on a high strike three, but it was ruled a ball and Cepeda reached. Ishikawa looked to be out of the inning yet again though as Chono (grr) chopped one to Imae, but Gori dropped it on a tough hop. Another run in, and when Lopez subsequently singled the score ran to 3-0 Yomiuri.

To add insult to injury, a rattled Ishikawa’s first pitch in the 4th was deposited into the outfield stands by Kamei for a 4-0 Giants lead.

On offense – no luck whatsoever for Our Marines. And for that, we can give a lot of credit to Murata at third. First inning – wonderful pick and throw to get Ishimine at first. Second – another great play to get Kakunaka on a surprise bunt. Third – again beating Ishimine to first with a throw. Yes, it seemed Murata was everywhere. But let’s face it – I am distracting from the fact that Chiba just couldn’t get a hit. Daichi hit a little bouncer up the middle in the first, and then nada until after Yomiuri built its 4 run lead.

But Lotte did get a run in the 5th on the second hit of the game – this off the bat of a pinch hitting Yoshida, opposite field jack, his second of the year to inch the score closer at 4-1.

Chiba handed that run right back in the 6th – Kataoka led off the inning with a deep liner off of Furuya (out of the pen to spell Ishikawa). Huff-n-Hustle snagged it bare-handed and fired an on time and on target dart to Daichi, who dropped it. Kataoka safe, and two batters later Murata again singled to plate Kataoka and extend the lead to 5-1.

Lucky 7 – Chiba got something very nice brewing thanks to a leadoff walk by Kakunaka and a single by Yoshida. Nemoto in for Ishimine – he singles to score Kakunaka. T OGINO pinch hit for Daichi – another single, bases loaded for Iguchi. The Gooch skies one deep to center, easily deep enough to score Yoshida for a very interesting 5-3 score. And when Saburo walked to reload the bases, Gori stepped into the box, ready to make amends for the earlier error, ready to bring in some runs… nope. Fly out, rally over.

Game over, really. Masuda did a wonderful job for two innings keeping things close, but Lotte would not get another baserunner.

The next four are at home versus Hanshin and Hiroshima. Hopefully those series are more competitive than this one was.

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