There’s really no other way to put it. This week’s sweep at the hands of the Fighters basically ended our chances for a late summer post-season run. Sure, crazier things have happened than a 7 game comeback with 51 games to go. For all intents and purposes though, we’re probably finished. I’m ok with that. Overall, I’m satisfied with the effort and fight put forth from our guys.
After a disastrous June, Our Marines had showed signs of life as of late. We actually led in two of those Fighters games. If perhaps the trigger was pulled a little differently on certain pitching changes in those games we’d be 3 games behind in the standings, not 7. Who knows? Like I said, I don’t think we could have asked for much more fight from Our Marines players. Thus begins the “let’s just have fun and enjoy watching our favorite team” chapter of the 2014 Marines season.
Lotte: Takahiro Fujioka (6-5 3.80) @ Orix: Yuki Nishi (11-5 2.82)
Orix added another 2 runs on mid-season addition Joey Butler’s 2nd NPB home run in the 6th, making the score 6-1 Orix. Fujioka was on the mound for all of Orix’s 6 runs, finally coming out with 2 outs in the 7th at 137 pitches. Minami relieved him with a scoreless 1 1/3 innings.
Our Marines actually got on the board first on an upper deck solo shot by Alfredo Despaigne in the 2nd. It’s been a rough go of it in his first week with the club, and his teammates greeted him with a warm reception as he returned to the dugout. This was his first real hit since joining the club, the other being the “triple” he hit in his first AB. A chance for him to adjust and show off more of his power should be something we can look forward to with the pressure off the last 2 months of the season.
The other Lotte run came on an Imae RBI single in the 7th, scoring Despaigne who got aboard with a lead off walk. Orix starter Nishi came out later in the inning after allowing a walk, but not before an eventful Katoh ground out to 1st got him out of a potentially tight spot. Following the put out at 1st, Kanazawa got caught in a run down between 3rd and home which made it a double play, followed by a near triple play with a close play at 3rd by a sliding Imae.
Despite giving up all 8 of Chiba’s hits and 3 walks, Nishi allowed just 2 runs in 6 2/3 innings for win. Imae accounts for 3 of those hits, all singles for the modasho. Daichi was the only other member of the Marines with a multi-hit game with 2 singles of his own. Shota Omine also had his NPB debut tonight, with a pinch hit strike out in the 8th.
Game 1 digest from Pacific League TV
Game 1 Box Score in English
Lotte: Hideaki Wakui (3-9 4.72) @ Orix: Chihiro Kaneko (9-3 1.74)
A different Wakui took the hill than the one we are used to. 5 hits and 3 walks isn’t exactly light outs for 6 1/3 innings. It’s the fact he did it on just 86 pitches that makes the key difference from what we’re used to from Wakui and what we got on Saturday. Wakui came out of the game after giving up a 1-out double to Hara, leaving with a man at second. Matsunaga gave up a double to PH Kawabata, bringing the runner home for Wakui’s only earned run. Masuda came in and finished the inning from there, finalizing Wakui’s line at: 6 1/3 IP, 86P, 5H, 4K, 3BB, 1ER.
The move worked out as Wakui started the inning with was was then a 2-0 lead, and Masuda finished the inning preserving a 2-1 lead. Part of me wonders the logic of giving Wakui such a quick hook with 86 pitches when guys like Isihikawa and Karakawa are left in at 90+ and 100+ pitches, and aren’t pulled until well after the damage is done. Sorry, I’m still a little bitter from the last series.
On to some more positive news. Let’s give the details on our 7 runs scored:
Inning 1: A Daichi walk and Kakunaka single set up a 2-out RBI single by Saburo. Daichi scored for an early 1-0 lead.
Inning 7: Alfredo Desapaigne JUST MISSED a home run off the top of the wall in left center for a 1-out double. With 2 outs, Kanazawa brought him home with a one hopper off the right field wall to make it 2-0.
Inning 8: Kaneko is out, Mahara is in to pitch for Orix. Kakunaka hit a 1-out single, Iguchi1 was hit by a pitch, and Saburo walked. Despaigne (2-for-5 on the day) came up with 1-out and the bases loaded, and Orix went to Higa to face Alfredo. Despaigne slapped a hard hit ground ball single past the SS and into LF. Kakunaka scores, 3-1 Marines!
Up next with the bases still loaded, Cruz hit a low liner past SS and into LF. Ishimine and Saburo score. 5-1 Lotte! Higa was pulled after that, and Kishida got the next two outs versus Kanazawa and Imae to end the inning.
1 He was lifted for PR Ishimine after getting hit in the hand.
Inning 9: Okada led off with a walk versus new pitcher Nakayama, and Daichi advanced him to 3rd on a lower liner past 1B and into RF. The throw from Itoi in right sailed over 3rd base allowing Okada to score. 6-2 Lotte!
Kakunaka (4-for-5 on the day) came up next and hit a single up the middle, past a shallowly positioned Hara at 2nd base scoring Daichi from 3rd. 7-2 Lotte!
Game 2 digest from Pacific League TV
Game 2 Box Score in English
Lotte: Yoshihisa Naruse (5-6, 5.16 ERA) @ Orix: Brandon Dickson (7-8, 3.69 ERA)
Orix did all of the early damage, thanks to 2 RBI’s by Wily Mo Pena. He drove in Itoi from 2nd base on a base hit to right field to give Orix an early 1-0 lead in the 2nd. Then in the 4th, he hit a solo blast to center to notch the total to 2-0. Naruse took control in the middle innings though, walking just one and allowing no hits in innings 5 through 7.
Naruse’s strong 5-7 innings came on the heels of a 5 run top of the 5th for Our Marines. It all started with a lead off solo HR to center by Despaigne, his second home run of the series, to cut the lead to 2-1. Cruz followed and just missed a HR himself, banging a ball off the wall in center for a double. After a Kanzawa sac bunt and Imae strike out, Cruz found himself at 3rd with 2 outs.
With the top of the order up, Our Marines went on a 4 run 2 out rally. Captain Daichi (5-for-5, 2 doubles, 1 run, 2 RBI) drove Cruz home on a base hit through the right side of the infield to tie it at 2. Next up, Katoh slapped a ball the other way through the left side for a base hit. With Katoh and Daichi aboard, Kakunaka delivered with a ground ball through the right side and into right field. Daichi scores, but Kakunaka is caught up between 1st and 2nd for the final out. It’s alright though, as Lotte now has the lead at 3-2 on the RBI single by Kakunaka…
No!!! The SS Adachi drops the ball. Kakunaka safely back to 1st, the inning continues! With Saburo next up, Kakunaka swiped 2nd base to put runners on 2nd and 3rd. Saburo delivered with the men in scoring position by smacking a base hit up the middle to score Katoh and Kakunaka. 5-2 Marines!
The offense wasn’t quite done after that. Daichi led off the 7th with a double off the base of the wall in right. Katoh attempted to bunt him over, and reached base safely when the play went to 3rd base. Daichi slid around the tag 3rd, so everyone was safe. A Kakunaka ground ball led to Daichi getting caught between 3rd and home, resulting in an out, but runners on 2nd and 3rd. Saburo loaded the base with a walk, bringing up Fukuura. Fukuura dropped a blooper into shallow left for the hit, an RBI single to make it 6-2. Despaigne followed with a fly out just foul in shallow right field. The 2nd baseman had to come over to make the play, giving Kakunaka a chance to tag up and hustle home to make it an RBI sac fly for Despaigne. 7-2 Marines!
Lotte scored their 8th run in the 8th, on a Daichi double down the right field line. Ishimine (PR for Imae) scored from 1st to make it 8-2. At 117 pitches, Naruse came out to pitch the 8th. After 2 batters (double and a ground out) and 4 pitches, Naruse was pulled. Masuda gave up an Itoi RBI single to score the inhereted runner German to make it 8-3. Ohtani closed out the 9th, the game ending on a nice play by Cruz at 2B, to seal the win for Naruse.
Game 3 digest from Pacific League TV
Game 3 Box Score in English