The last series started with a no-hitter and ended in a true heartbreaker. After a nice winning streak for Our Marines, the ship has started to list a bit, with 3 losses in the last 4 games.
So it’s on to Osaka and Orix, and time to face the best pitching team in Japan. Orix has had its issues as well as of late, just getting swept by Hamu.
By Steve Novosel Wakui's wildness got him in trouble and the Lotte bats couldn't capitalize on big chances. A very winnable game turned into a close loss. Where have I heard this before?
Our Marines got on the board first in this one, thanks to a T OGINO triple in the third that he probably could have scored on since the throw to third was poor. Regardless, he scored right after when red hot Daichi singled him in.
That was the high point of the Lotte attack.
It’d be wrong to criticize Wakui’s start as a bad one, it was mostly a horribly inefficient one as he took 53 pitches to get out of the first two innings, but that second one ended with a dramatic strikeout of German with the bases loaded. In the 4th inning, Wakui was not so lucky as a 4-pitch walk to Teppei, a sac bunt, and an Adachi single tied the game. Wakui did himself no favors though as a wild pitch in the same inning allowed Adachi to score – the winning run.
Lotte had plenty of chances for more runs but could never come through. There was Saburo and Cruz on with one out in the second – strikeout, strikeout. Leadoff single in the 4th? Nope. In the 5th Daichi singled and stole second – Iguchi smashed a ball up the middle that Matsuba snagged and nailed Daichi at third. Most of the time that would have scored a run.
The biggest near miss was in the 6th as Kakunaka crushed an opposite field bomb that missed going out by mere inches – a leadoff double. But yet again… zip.
It gets intriguing in game 2 with PL’s best pitcher Nishi vs Orix-killer Furuya.
By Steve Novosel Orix Killer Furuya got the call for game 2, but it was Orix doing the killing as Buffaloes bats lit up Furuya and the pen for 8 runs in a rout.
This game started out in the best possible way – T OGINO lit a pitch from Nishi into left field, and when it bounced kind of strangely LF (ex-La La La La) Takehara slipped, the ball went by, and T OGINO was in with a leadoff inside the park homer. How awesome is that?
Aaaand that was this game’s highlight. Yes, on the first batter of the game. Sure, T OGINO singled in another run in the 2nd, but for the rest of the game the story was all about Orix, more specifically, Orix’s bats. Let’s tally it up:
1) 1st inning, RBI double by Itoi (and honestly, Iguchi should have gotten the ball).
2) 1st inning, Wily Mo Pena 2-run shot to deep center.
3) 3rd inning, Takehara solo shot to left.
4) 4th inning, German 2-run double.
And that was it for Furuya – 4 IP, 6 ER on 7 H and 2 BB. Of course that is by far the worst outing of the year for New Lefty Ace. Let’s be frank – it was his worst start in his brief career as a starter. Let’s continue:
5) 5th inning, Ueno in for Furuya. Wily Mo Pena unloads on a 1-2 pitch and hits it about as hard as a baseball can be hit. It went off the 2nd level of lights above LF and dropped back in the field. It was a homer, and I think if that were hit at QVC it would have left the stadium.
6) 7th inning, T-Okada sac fly.
That’s a whole lot of runs, folks. My guess is that Ueno might have been the game 3 starter had Furuya lasted longer, but he didn’t, and Ueno wasn’t, and in fact got sent to ni-gun after the series.
So the series was lost, all that was left was to salvage one win in the series.
By Steve Novosel Your correspondent has been to many games in Kansai over the past few years - mostly at Koshien for interleague play, but also at Kyocera Dome for Orix games - and this one is the first victory I remember witnessing in... Well, a long, long time. And The Baby-Faced Killer on the bump to boot! What a nice end to a sad streak.
This game did not feature any huge, dramatic plays like so many recent games, it was just a well pitched, well executed victory. In all honesty I thought this game would feature “more of the same” from The Baby-Faced Killer in the first inning, as Karakawa worked himself into a huge bases loaded jam but escaped with just a run given up. Orix’s Hirano tripled (it could have been either a double – if T OGINO played it straight – or an out if the spectacular attempt at a diving snag had succeeded, but a triple it was) and scored on a T-Okada timely to make it an early 1-0 Orix lead.
That lead evaporated in the 4th as Luis Cruuuuz singled to left to bring in Imae (who had reached via a double) – 1-1 game. But not for long as Betancourt (!!!!) doubled in Kawabata in the bottom of the frame to push Orix back in front.
The Orix scoring ended there as quality pitching (by Karakawa, Matsunaga, Masuda, Carlos Rosa, and Nishino) kicked in and did what they do so well – allow no runs. But that wasn’t it for the Lotte attack, thanks to the heroics of SABURO.
First, a great double in the 5th by our veteran OF/DH plated Kakunaka to re-tie the game at 2 apiece. And in the Lotte Lucky 7 Saburo was at it again, singling in Captain Daichi (who reached via double) and giving Our Marines their first lead at 3-2.
Some padding would be great, and after T OGINO doubled in the 9th (the great T, foolishly languishing in ni-gun for much of the season, has gone 10-19 with a homer, a triple, 3 doubles, and 8 runs scored in the past 5 games), Kakunaka brought him home with a sac fly to make it a 4-2 game.
More wins would have been ideal, but the series ends with a win, and a tiny bit of momentum as the guys head home for the next 6 games.