After thing started to look up in the preceding two series, Our Marines made their last trip to Kansai this year and got mauled. 3 runs scored – total. Shutout twice. Not so competitive in the other game. Furuya, injured. And as a capper, Hamu won two of three in Fukuoka so that 6 game deficit is an astounding 8 games with just 27 to go.
Want some good news? Sure it’s thin on the ground here, but our lovely rookie Ishikawa (arguably the best pitcher on the team this year, and undoubtedly the best among the starters) is back and starting game 1. The next three games are against the Fighters, sitting in third. The math is very poor indeed, though, and Chiba really, really, really needs a sweep of this three game set in Tokyo Dome to even begin to think about making a run at A-Class.
Lotte: Ayumu Ishikawa (7-5, 3.27 ERA) @ Hamu: Hiroshi Urano (6-2, 3.93 ERA)
You of course can do the math on this one – now Our Marines are 9 games back of Hamu for that 3rd position. But the worst part of that is Seibu has slipped past Chiba and sits a full game up in 4th, and Rakuten lurks only 4 games back in 6th.
This game was rather disheartening to watch, to be honest, as Ishikawa’s been one of the few real bright spots this year. But by the end of the 4th inning Chiba was down 6-0 thanks to 9 Hamu hits (punctuated by an Otani 2-run blast in the first). That was pretty much that, to be honest.
Lotte put 11 men on base but as has been the case frequently lately, those baserunners just didn’t translate to runs. The only real highlight on offense was El Cochito Cruz’s 13th homer of the season in the 9th, though obviously it wasn’t enough to make a difference.
Game 1 Digest from Pacific League TV
Game 1 Box Score in English
Lotte: Yuki Karakawa (2-8, 5.34 ERA) @ Hamu: Mitsuo Yoshikawa (1-4, 6.10 ERA)
The Baby Faced Killer – he of the large, huge, tremendous win vs Daiei last week – just didn’t have it today. Oh, it wasn’t the worst of performances I suppose – nothing like a few of the ones recently where Itoh has let him get killed for 6 or 7 innings – but 8 hits, 3 BB, and 4 ER in just 4 IP definitely fits in the “perhaps could be worse but I wouldn’t be putting that one on my resume” category.
The sad thing is, the bullpen tandem of Yuta Ohmine and Tomohisa Ohtani was GREAT. 4 IP, 3 K, 2 H, no BB, no runs great, that is. It of course begs the question of why Yuta can’t do that more often, as he’s proven time and again that he’s capable of stringing together a few brilliant frames, but I digress.
The main problem with this game was the offense, in my opinion. 11 baserunners but just three runs – where have I heard that before? (HINT: scroll up to Friday’s writeup) Our Marines had runners in every inning but one, and the total of the offense was a timely single by Captain Daichi in the first and a 2-run bast by Cochito Cruz in the 6th. OK, gets the guys closer, but the Crotta and Masui tandem prevented any more Chiba runs from scoring.
And that, folks, is a 10 game deficit with 25 left. Yeah, I know.
Game 2 Digest from Pacific League TV
Game 2 Box Score in English
Lotte: Yoshihisa Naruse (7-8, 4.82 ERA) @ Hamu: Naoyuki Uwasawa (7-6, 3.38 ERA)
The best sight to see on Sunday was Naruse unveiling what is probably his second best start of the year (after his near CG shutout in Sapporo). Sure, he scattered 7 hits, but they were truly scattered, all coming in different innings except the two he allowed in his final frame (the 7th). Big help was provided by the defense as well – ignore the first inning error on Cruz, it was a very, very difficult play and calling it an error is a bit unfortunate.
Tamura started again behind the plate – he threw out a pair of runners on the basepaths before Hamu wisely decided to stop running on him. I’ll repeat what I said in an earlier writeup – who knew he had such an arm? And Ishimine in center did not contribute on offense, but made a pair of really heady plays on defense – one to cut off a sure double and turn it into a single, and another where he got a great jump to get a ball in a difficult spot.
Hamu’s newcomer starter (and Chiba native) Uwasawa was just as good if not better than Naruse through 6, striking out 7 and allowing just a pair of hits, both singles. In the Chiba Lucky 7, however, that quality streak would end. Alfredo Despaigne – returned before this game from his injured back – had looked somewhat foolish in striking out his first two PAs. In his third, though, he caught absolutely all of a 1-0 Uwasawa slider and arched it to the deepest part of the ballpark for the first run of the game. Two batters later – not to be outdone – eternal Lotte Hero Imae pounded the first pitch he saw into the roaring masses in left for a 2-0 Chiba lead! NICE!
Hamu scratched out a run with no outs in the 8th off normally solid Ohtani, but that’s all they would get as Ohtani stopped the scoring chance with a pair of Ks and a fly out. Nishino did what Nishino does best – a perfect 9th to close out the game and end all those losing streaks.
Lest we forget, that was both a 5 game overall losing streak and a horrific 10 game losing streak to Hamu. 9 back with 24 to play….
Game 3 Digest from Pacific League TV
Game 3 Box Score in English