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Lotte @ Rakuten, 29 April – 1 May 2014

1149_Interior_Kleenex_Stadium_Miyagi Golden Week has arrived, and Our Marines sport a .500 record for the first time this year. Fresh off a series sweep in Sapporo, our Marines head south for a three game set in Sendai. We’ve now won 4 straight, while Rakuten comes home after being swept on the road at Orix. Let’s hope these trends continue.

We’ve got Wakui and Furuya going games 1 and 2. Fujioka was the starter the last time the number 6 spot came around, but he’s recently been called upon to fill the vacant number 2 spot. With the 6-spot coming up Thursday, chances are we’ll see a fresh face in the rotation.

 

Game 1 - Lotte WINS 3-0 (Click to Expand)

Lotte: Hideaki Wakui (1-3, 5.06 ERA) @ Rakuten: Manabu Mima (1-2, 4.70 ERA)

By: Craig Roberts Our Marines climbed above .500 for the first time today with a win over the Eagles. It wasn't exactly pretty, but a win is a win. Here's what I mean by 'not exactly pretty'...

Wakui strikes out Goto to end the 4th (from Nikkan Sports)

Wakui strikes out Goto to end the 4th (from Nikkan Sports)

Our three runs came home on a double play, a bloop hit, and a sac fly. We knocked Rakuten starter Mima out of the game via an injury causing come-backer in the 1st. We added little insult to injury though, only scoring one run in the remaining 8 innings. Wakui pitched 6 1/3 shutout innings, but needed 117 pitches to do so and left with two runners on. The bullpen preserved the shutout, but had to get out of jam-after-jam in the process. We hit into 3 double plays; one of the bases loaded variety, one of the inning ending variety, and one of the bases-loaded-inning-ending variety.

Let’s start with the starters. Wakui was able to get out of three separate jams today, all with two runners on base. In the 1st inning, it was 1 out with runners on 2nd and 3rd for the Eagles. An Andruw Jones strike out and Masuda ground out ended that threat. In the 4th inning, a Goto strikeout got Wakui out of a 1st and 2nd 2-out jam. With runners on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out again in the 5th, Wakui got today’s two and three batters Fujita and Ginji to line out and ground out respectively. The Ginji AB was especially dicey, with Wakui bobbling a grounder back to the mound twice and barely beating Ginji with a throw to first on a VERRRRY close play.

The Eagles starter Mima did not have such a fortunate day. Ishimine and Daichi led the game off with a single a piece, followed by an Iguchi walk. Great, bases loaded 0 out, great. Except Saburo grounded into a 4-6-3 double play. At least that made it 1-0 Marines, with Ishimine coming home. Kakunaka followed with a shallow blooper, stretched into a double, that landed just out of a diving Masuda’s reach in LF to bring in Daichi. 2-0. Not the type of assertive production you’d hope for on a 0-out bases loaded chance, but we’ll take two runs. Mima’s day wouldn’t last much longer. The third out of the inning was a come backer off the bat of Cruz, that struck Mima in the mid section. Mima recovered to make the play, but would not come back out to start the 2nd with an apparently injury.

Lotte bats only managed one more run off of a collection of Rakuten relievers for the remainder of the game. That was a Kakunaka sac fly in the 8th, bringing home Daichi to make it 3-0 Marines. We had plenty of chances with 10 hits and 3 walks, but couldn’t make much out of them. A bases loaded double play off the bat of Cruz ended the 3rd. Rookie catcher Yoshida was picked off at first base after a single to prevent a chance from forming in the 4th. A strike-em-out-throw-em out double play ended the 7th with Ishimine at bat and Nemoto out at 2nd.

The trio of Matsunaga (2/3 innings), Carlos Rosa (8th inning), and Nishino (9th) kept the shutout in tact. Mastunaga inherited two 1-out runners, Rosa gave up two 1-out walks, and Nishino allowed a 1-out hit. Still, no Eagles would cross the plate as Nishino closed this one out on an Okajima double play. Like I said, it wasn’t pretty. But, we won.

Game Notes:

– The Eagles left 10 on base to our 7. We had 3 double plays to their 1.

– Captiain Daichi was 3-for-3 with a double & sac bunt, scoring 2 runs in his first modasho of the year. He is now 9 for his last 15.

– Nemoto and Ishimine were the other two Lotte batters with multiple hits, with 2 singles each.

– Wakui’s final line: 6 1/3 IP, 117P, 6H, 5K, 1BB, 0R

Game 2 - Lotte WINS 3-2 (Click to Expand)

Lotte: Takuya Furuya (3-1, 2.53 ERA) @ Rakuten: Keiji Uezono (NR)

By Steve Novosel With a 5 game winning streak on the line, New Lefty Ace Furuya took the hill on a wet Sendai Wednesday and delivered yet another solid pitching performance, putting Our Marines in a position to win again. Some last minute heroics were necessary to finish the task, but the team came through and produced an exciting 3-2 victory.

Sato's got wings

from @painomi64

Furuya took the reins right off the bat tonight. Right fielder Okajima singled to lead off the bottom of the first, and the next hit for Rakuten came… All the way in the 5th inning, when Shima singled up the center1. The only other baserunner in that time reached via error – that’s 14 batters in a row without a hit, and why I like to call him New Lefty Ace.

1If I must be a bit picky about Furuya’s pitching this year – and make no mistake, he’s been great – but he’s been a little pitch-y so far this year. In every start he’s gone 100+ pitches, but he’s yet to make it past 7IP. It’s a minor quibble, honestly, as the Lotte pen is solid yet again, but it would be nice to see him uncork a few quick innings and record a CG soon.

Furuya’s counterpart was Keiji Uezono, former rookie of the year with Hanshin in 2007 but basically unused since coming to Rakuten before the 2012 season. For 4 innings, Uezono was pretty darn solid himself, allowing just a pair of hits (single by Saburo, double by Nemoto) and no runs. But in the 5th inning, Uezono pretty much fell apart.

That inning started for Lotte with a nice walk by Saburo, and was followed by a single to right by Cruz that sent Saburo to third. That brought up Satozaki, who lined a single up the middle to plate Saburo and give Our Marines the early 1-0 lead. (Please note that he sprouted wings after this nice RBI, photo evidence in the post) After Ishimine worked a walk to load the bases with one out, Hoshino-kantoku went to the pen for Miyanishi (oddly enough entering to “Iron Man”), who immediately yielded a single to Captain Daichi to run the score to 2-0 Chiba.

Miyanishi and Aoyama kept the Lotte bats in check for the next three innings, so as the rain began to fall harder Furuya just needed to keep the Eagles off of home plate. Given the conditions and Furuya’s rather high pitch count (just around 100) I was a bit surprised to see him take the bump for the 7th inning. Sure enough, he was looking a bit tired as both Ginji and Matsui singled to lead off the inning. One out later, Masuda lifted a fly ball to center that easily allowed Ginji to tag and score, making it a 2-1 affair.

Matsunaga took over for the 8th, and with his second pitch Matsunaga nailed Okajima. After a sac bunt and a liner back to Matsunaga, Itoh-kantoku went to the pen to get our Masuda to face Jones. It sure looked to my eyes both live and on replay that Masuda got Jones swinging on strike three, but it was called a ball, and soon AJ singled to left to score Okajima and tie the game (a better throw by Ishimine would have surely gotten Okajima out at the plate, too). Zannen.

The 9th started in what looked to be a near downpour, but the game went on. Falkenbourg took over for Aoyama, and after a Saburo strikeout Cochito Cruz blasted a 3-1 pitch into the left field stands to give Chiba a 3-2 lead!

Nishino of course came in to close the game in the bottom of the 9th, and strangely enough with one out the game was delayed for quite some time due to the heavy rain. The game eventually resumed (though the weather did not improve), and Nishino finished by inducing Shimauchi into a slow grounder and a close out at third. A wet, wonderful finish for the 6th Lotte win in a row!

It’s up to Karakawa tomorrow to lead the team to its second consecutive sweep.

Game 3 - Lotte Loses 8-4 (Click to Expand)

Lotte: Yuki Karakawa (0-3, 7.71 ERA) @ Rakuten: Yudai Mori (1-2, 4.41 ERA)

By Steve Novosel Win streak? Gone. Of course Our Marines still won the series in Sendai, but Rakuten took the series finale by a not-that-close 8-4 margin. We all knew the win streak was going to end sooner or later, I just wish it didn't end in such gruesome fashion.

I’m not going to bore you with the details of this one, they aren’t worth dwelling on. Here’s a few bullet points from the game:

  • Karakawa looks to be done as a starter, at least for the time being. He only went 3 1/3 tonight, giving up 6 ER. He’s now 0-4 with an 8.78 ERA on the season, and that’s in 6 appearances.
  • Ueno took over for Karakawa and pitched somewhat OK. I’ve long advocated for his return to the rotation, and now it seems he might get a chance. He’s got a 3.86 ERA on the season with a 1.07 WHIP, which is a weeee bit better than Karakawa at this point.
  • Bright spots? Iguchi’s 2-4 with a pair of RBI? That’s about it, really.

We shan’t be complaining about a 5-1 road trip. Up next is a 3 game set at QVC with Seibu. Game 1 features a rising Naruse vs Kishi.

Comments 1

  1. We take ugly wins around here.

    I like that in this 5 game win streak the team hasn’t allowed more than one run a game, and if you take out that awful 6 batter stretch in the last loss, it’s 7 games in a row with one run or less allowed. Rather Orix-like.

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