It’s a lovely day, the sun is shining and Lotte has their first 4 game winning streak of the year. What the heck, let’s do another live blog!
The starting lineups
For Lotte: Tsuyoshi (short), Hayasaka (left), Fukuura (first), Iguchi (second), Ohmatsu (right), Hashimoto (DH), Imae (third), Satozaki (catcher), and Hayakawa (center).
For Nippon Ham: Tanaka (second), Hichori (left), Inaba (right), Takahashi (first), Sledge (DH), Koyano (third), Itoi (center), Nioka (short), and Tsuruoka (catcher).
Shingo Ono gets the start for Lotte vs The Hurling Darvish. Ono won his last outing last weekend versus Orix but hadn’t had a win in a month prior. The last time I live blogged an Ono start he was brilliant at Seibu but still took the loss. That has nothing to do with today, of course (or so I will tell myself). Darvish has been typical dominating Darvish this year with a 1.74 ERA and a 14-5 record, but he’s been out for close to a month with a sore shoulder. How will he respond?
A lovely start for Lotte as Tsuyoshi singles to open the game. He swipes second and Hayasaka bunts him to third. An early run against Darvish would be great. Fukuura lifts one to Hichori in left, the speedy Tsuyoshi is tagging, running…. Egads, he’s easily out. Instead of an early run the inning is over.
Not a good start for Ono. Tanaka smacks one down the line that Fukuura snags, but Ono is too slow to the bad and Tanaka makes it to first a microsecond prior to Fukuura’s throw. Fukuura had the ball in plenty of time but Ono wasn’t there – an infield hit. Hichori sacrifices Tanaka to second and Inaba grounds out to Iguchi but Takahashi singles to center to score Tanaka. 1-0 Fighters.
Almost something brewing for our guys. Darvish overpowers Iguchi for out one. Ohmatsu singles to center, and Hashimoto hits a nice gapper —- caught by Itoi in a great running catch. Grr. Imae pops out to Takahashi to end the inning with no score.
Koyano grounds out to Iguchi to start Nippon Ham’s inning, but Itoi and Nioka follow him up with back-to-back doubles; 2-0 Nippon Ham. Tsuruoka grounds out to Imae but Tanak draws a walk. 1st and 2nd with two outs and Hichori at the plate – he lines back to Ono to end the inning.
Every time you watch a broadcast on TV you see the same damn commercials. On BS12 (who carries a ton of Lotte games) you get the AXA Direct ads with chick with a dent in her fender, the phalanx of geeky insurance dudes sure to help you get your money, and the supernaturally chipper chica imploring you to call now. I hate those ads.
Gaora’s got the Sony Sonpo ads with the tiara people. I used to think these ads weren’t all that bad but watching them between EVERY inning has made them just as annoying as the AXA Direct ads. I never would have thought that a few months ago.
ANYWAY, Lotte goes three up, three down in the third as Satozaki, Hayakawa, and Tsuyoshi are retired in order. Bad trend, man.
Ono gives up two more singles by Takahashi and Koyano but nobody comes home, which is all that matters. The score stays at 2-0.
Nothing doing for Lotte. Strikeouts by Hayasaka and Fukuura and a ground-out by Iguchi.
Nothing doing for Nippon Ham either – two fly-outs and Ono’s first K, Tanaka’s the victim. 2-0 after 4.
Ohmatsu, Hashimoto, Imae up, Ohmatsu, Hashimoto, Imae down. Darvish is definitely in a groove.
Ono’s doing well himself – he gives up a walk to Takahashi but otherwise gets everyone out. Still 2-0.
Satozaki plays Darvish Pinball, ricocheting a ball off Darvish’s ankle and legging it out for a hit. Nothing else doing from the Lotte lineup, though, so no threat to score.
Itoi doubles with one out but Ono gets out Nioka and strikes out Tsuruoke to end the inning. The game zips along, but Lotte is still down 2 runs.
Iguchi hits a one-out double to the right field gap. Ohmatsu pops weakly to third and Hashimoto gives a ball a big jump but has a bit too much under it – it dies at the track for out three.
A three up, three down frame for Ono. Pity about the early runs, he’s pitched great since then.
Finally, an opening! With one out Satozaki drills one high off the right field wall, barely missing a homer. He ends up at second, though. Hayakawa pops out to first in foul territory, but Tsuyoshi is there to pick up the team! He smacks a double that scores Satozaki and brings Lotte within one! Hayasaka strikes out to end the inning but Lotte is within one swing of the bat.
More commercials – the Zurich commercial with the wiggling girl in the front seat of the car like there’s ants on it is pretty annoying as well. She’s suppose to be cute but instead she just makes you think “Would you please sit still?!?” The batting aid commercial with Derek Jeter always cracks me up. His voice is dubbed by someone whose voice doesn’t even come close to matching Jeter’s voice or looks. I don’t know why a commercial wasn’t made with, oh, I don’t know, one of the hundreds of local baseball stars.
Two quick outs by Ono then a quick blast to left by Koyano. Sheesh, there goes the hard fought run – 3-1 Fighters, and on to the ninth.
Takeda is in – I believe he’s perfect on the season in save situations, so it’s a tough situation. It starts well – Fukuura reaches first on an error. Iguchi lifts a fly to right for out one. Ohmatsu smashes one down the line but Koyano makes a nifty quick snag of it and fires to second to get out two. Hashimoto steps up and delivers a single to right! Ohmatsu’s at third, two outs… But Imae grounds out easily to short to end the game and the series.
I suppose I shouldn’t be disappointed but I wanted to see the sweep. Two out of three is still nice but it does reduce our long shot chances at the climax series to really long shot chances. Lotte comes home for a three game set with Seibu, so at least we have a chance to make the Lions’s life miserable.