This blog should be renamed “We Love Marines, but We’ve Spent Almost no Time at Home Lately and Haven’t Had a Chance to Blog in Ages.” Catchy, no?
In honor of a baseball watchin’ weekend and to make up for my busy work week-induced silence, it’s live blog time! Today is Lotte on the road in Tokorozawa to face Seibu. Lotte won a run festival last night 12-7 (more to come on that later), so a win today wins the series. No matter how bad the season goes (and it’s been pretty bad as of late) it always feels great to beat up on Seibu, especially on the road.
Today’s matchup brings Ono to the hill to face Kishi. Ono had a pretty rough outing last Friday in Sendai, but he should bounce back with a good performance today. Catching Ono today is Hashimoto (batting 5th), and the rest of the lineup looks is Fukuura at first (batting 7th), Hayasaka at second (batting 2nd), Tsuyoshi at short (leadoff), Heiuchi at third (batting 9th). The outfield is Ohmatsu in left (4th), Hayakawa in center (8th), and Saburo in right (3rd). Benny gets the start at the DH.
Lotte gets runners on the corners via a leadoff walk by Tsuyoshi, a steal, a sac bunt, and another walk by Saburo. Ohmatsu hits a shallow pop that’s unable to score a run for the second out and Hashimoto lines out to a diving Bocachica in left to end the inning.
Ono is the model of efficiency in the bottom of the inning, inducing Kataoka, Hara, and Kuriyama into ground-outs on a total of 7 pitches. Nice – 0-0 after one.
Benny grounds out to lead off the inning. Fukuura next hits a nice single to left center. Haykawa grounds to first – Ishii throws out Fukuura at second but the swift Hayakawa beats out the throw to first. It’s all moot, though, as Heiuchi strikes out to end the inning.
Ono is just as good in the second as the first – he induces Nakajima and Uemoto into quick ground-outs and strikes out GG Sato. He takes a grand total of 10 pitches to do it this time. Very nice – still 0-0. Viewers at home are also treated to a view of recently-retired Kiyohara (on hand for the opening pitch) in a wife-beater in the press box. We didn’t need that one, guys.
A bizarre bit of baseball in the top of the inning. Tsuyoshi smacks one off of Kishi’s shin and hoofs it to first for an infield single. Kishi is injured but stays on. A few pitches later Tsuyoshi takes off to steal – it looks like Kishi throws a pitchout but Ginjiro stays in his crouch and has to jump for the ball. He snags it and whips it to second – for some unknown reason Tsuyoshi has decided to stop running before reaching the bag. The throw is dropped, though, so he jogs into second with a standing steal. I suspect Bobby’s not going to be too happy with that one.
Hayasaka strikes out, Saburo walks again, and Ohmatsu hits a deep fly that reaches the warning track but no further. Hashimoto is again faced with a two-out, runners on the corners situation and again he gets an out, this time a fly to center.
Seibu gets some baserunners off Ono in the bottom of the 3rd. Ishii leads off with a single and Ginjiro sacrifices him to second. Bocachica pops out to left and Ono pops Kataoka to put runners on second and first with two out. How long has Kataoka been using Princess Princess as intro music, anyway? It’s stuck in my head now, grr.
Ono gets Hara to fly out to Hayakawa for the third out so no damage is done. A grand total of 14 pitches for all of that, too – 0-0 after three.
Benny takes a swing at strike three to lead off the fourth, and Fukuura grounds to Ishii for out two. Hayakawa grounds to second to end the Lotte fourth.
Kuriyama knocks a single to left while leading off the Seibu fourth, but he’s doubled off when Nakajima lines Ono’s first pitch right back at him. Ono makes a nice reflex snag and lobs it to Fukuura – easy peasy DP! Uemoto grounds out to Hayasaka to end the Seibu fourth, and the game cruises into the fifth still tied, 0-0.
Kishi has really got the car going going downhill now. A flyout by Heiuchi and strikeouts of Tsuyoshi and Hayasaka send Lotte down in order.
Ono is still looking nice himself – grounder, grounder, grounder and the Lions go down in order as well. Into the 6th – still a scoreless tie.
More of the same, really – Saburo lines out to left, Ohmatsu takes ball four. He tries to steal second, but is thrown out as Hashimoto strikes out. Three quick outs.
Ono also gets a quick inning, retiring Bocachica, Kataoka, and Hara in order. Still no score after 6.
So close, yet… Benny draws a leadoff walk, and after a Fukuura pop out Hayakawa almost ends the inning with an infield grounder. Benny is out at second but Hayakawa beats the throw to first. Hayakawa takes off running and Heiuchi singles, but Hayakawa doesn’t see him single, rounds second and stops between second and third. Belatedly he rushes back to second and is safe. Tsuyoshi smashes a ball very deep – I thought it was gone – but GG Sato makes a great catch while jumping into the right field fence. A nice scoring chance, but no runs.
Ono continues his nice game. He gets Kuriyama to pop out to Hayakawa. Kuriyama hits a broken bat single to center, and Uemoto grounds one to Fukuura. He bobbles the ball and can’t get 2, but he makes the easy play at first. GG Sato hits an easy grounder to Heiuchi to account for the third out. 0-0, 3 hits for both teams, and into the late innings. Nice and close- the best kind of game.
The speedy Hayasaka gets on with a grounder up the middle to get the Lotte 8th started. Saburo rides one deep and high – but too high, as it’s reeled in in deep center. Ohmatsu pops to Ginjiro, and Hayasaka swipes second. The Lotte ouendan get “Skinhead Runnin'” going as Hashimoto draws a two-out walk. Benny strikes out on four pitches to end the nice scoring chance, though.
Turnabout is indeed fair play, though. Ishii flies out to very deep center to start the Seibu eighth, and Ginjiro hits a very deep ball off the right center fence, ending up on second. Ono walks Bocachica but gets Kataoka to ground to Heiuchi. Heiuchi steps on third, fires to first, double play! Threat over, and it’s still tied at 0-0 heading to the 9th.
Lotte manages a two-out baserunner as Heiuchi draws a walk but nothing doing, scoring wise. It’s up to Ono’s pitching and good defense now to send it to extra innings.
9 pitches into Hara’s leadoff at-bat Ono plunks him on the hands. It’s pretty crappy, though, as Hara moved his hands in a position to get plunked. Hardly seems like a good call and Bobby comes out to complain, but it stands.
Kuriyama drops a sac bunt, Ono fields it and whips it to Tsuyoshi at second. The throw is offline, though, and Tsuyoshi can’t reel it in. Hara keeps on running to third. No outs.
Ono intentionally walks Nakajima to load the bases with nobody out. Bobby goes to the pen – in comes Sikorski in a tough, tough spot. Can he nail it down and send it to extra innings?
No. It’s a big bouncing grounder to Fukuura. He’s got no choice but to go home – it’s a slow grounder though and Hara is in easily. A tight 1-0 loss for Lotte. I feel bad for Ono, it was as good of a performance as one would hope for but Lotte couldn’t plate anyone to give him support. I don’t think the 9th should have unfolded the way it did, though – I really don’t think Hara should have been awarded first, and if he’s not awarded first Kuriyama’s not bunting, and there’s no error…. But poor calls are an unfortunate part of the game.
So the series goes to the rubber game tomorrow. I’ll be in the Lotte gaiya helping Lotte on to a series win!