Seibu’s season has ended with what is surely a heartbreaking loss for them at Orix.
Lotte’ just wrapped up a 2-game set in Sapporo with a mini-sweep, a total dusting of the second place Fighters.
“But Steeeeeve, what does all this meaaaaaan?” I can hear you ask. What it means is simple – 5 games remain in the 2015 Pacific League regular season for Our Marines, 4 of them at home, and if we can take just two of those five remaining we’re going back to Sapporo for the Climax Series.
No excuses – win and the season continues, lose and Chiba deserves to stay home. The guys can wrap this up as early as Saturday vs Rakuten.
These two key victories came by and large off the arms of Wakui and perhaps surprisingly to some, Chen Kuan-Yu. Wakui’s been pretty constant all year – if he makes it through those occasional, odd blow-up patches he hits now and then, he’s still one of the best pitchers in Japan. Thursday night, Wakui gave up a bomb to Nakata Sho (as one tends to do) and basically nothing else. 7 innings, 3 hit, no walk ball on the road in a must win game, yeah, it’s pretty good.
Chen’s start on Wednesday was electric. Earlier in the month Chen delivered a gem against these same Fighters in Tokyo Dome, but this start was the best of his young career. 7 innings, only 2 hits, no walks, and 7 Ks off just 82 pitches. Itoh-kantoku is trying to preserve the starters for these last 7 games in a row so he didn’t get a chance to finish, but I have little doubt that given the opportunity he would have completed the shutout. He looked that sharp.
In a refreshing change, the bats gave Chen and Wakui ample support. Chen’s win was buoyed by a stunning Ishimine modasho, driving in three early runs off former Sawamura Award winner Yoshikawa. And in Thursday’s game, well, who didn’t get in on the action? Our Marines piled 10 runs on rookie starter Arihara, with 7 players getting in an RBI (including another 2 for Ishimine). Only negative to be found is a hamstring injury to Cochito Cruz, but it seems to be a minor injury (that will keep him out the last 5 games, though). His replacements – Imae and Shogo – played some great D and both provided huge hits in the late innings to pad the lead.
Seibu’s Akiyama broke Matt Murton’s single season hit record from 2010 on Thursday after recording 7 hits in the final two games. Great for him, I’m happy for him. What was best from our perspective was yet again an Orix player stepped up to help us out when we needed help getting in to the Climax Series. You may remember Freddie “E” Bynum from 2010, this time was Bryan Bullington shutting down the same Seibu attack that rang up 16 runs the night before. Thanks, Bryan, and Thanks, Orix!
Up next is Rakuten in town on Friday/Saturday (Rhee vs Karashima on Friday) followed by Fighters on Sunday/Monday. Let’s hope we are nice and relaxed, clicnched-style, for those two Fighters games.