Much as I really didn’t want to, I’m going back to Nagoya. Despite a huge chance in the bottom of the 9th and as big a chance as you can get in the bottom of the 10th Our Marines couldn’t get it done tonight. Instead Game 4 of the Nippon Series went to Chunichi in 11 innings, 4-3.
The game 2 loss was so lopsided as to be funny; there’s no humor at all to be found in this game. Well wait – I did say Marines would win in 6 games, right? (Oops, I said 5)
I’m not going to recap the whole game as I’m going to try to push it out of my mind as soon as I finish writing this. But here’s a quick rundown:
Lotte took an early 3-0 lead.
Karakawa got the start but was pulled in the 4th due to ineffectiveness. I asked Karakawa’s dad if his arm was OK and he said yeah, he’s just having an off game. (I chatted with his parents a bit tonight. I also chatted with Nishimura-kantoku’s daughters before the game as well – I asked if he was nervous and his younger daughter said “No, but we really are.” Yeah, I understand.)
Chunichi tied the game in the 5th due to serious Lotte defensive buffonery.
Lotte had runners in scoring position in the 6th (an Imae triple), 8th (Kiyota single + sac bunt), 9th (Kim Tae Kyun single plus sac bunt), 10th (runners on 2nd & 3rd, nobody out, then bases loaded one out). None of these runners scored.
Itoh took the loss. I won’t blame Itoh; the game was over after the Lotte 10th. It ended so horrifyingly that it seemed the air was sucked out of the stadium. I don’t know that anyone outside the gaiya was cheering with any conviction after that. I can’t describe it adequately I am sure, but what happened was: runners on second and third, no outs (as I mentioned) Saburo needs to loft a fly ball or hit a slow grounder or SOMETHING. Kiyota is speedy and on 3rd. The count goes to 2-1; hitters count. Saburo takes a strike (???!!?), then on a full count lifts a tiny fly to left. Kiyota does not tag. Imae is intentionally walked bringing up Fukuura. He works the count full with foul liner after foul liner. On the 8th pitch Fukuura hits a liner straight – straight at Donoue at third, who steps on the bag to force off Kiyota for a double play. It sounds like your typical unlucky play unless you saw it. It was awful.
What made it more awful was in the previous inning – Heiuchi on second, two outs, Tsuyoshi at the plate. He lifts a fly deep to the left corner; I can’t see what happens, but I see it bounce inside the field of play. Sayonara double? Apparently, foul. I have no idea what happened – I taped the game and I am not going to watch it to find out. All I know is the stadium had erupted – Tsuyoshi thought is was in, everybody thought it was a hit except the umps and I am sure the Chunichi fans. Maybe it was foul, I don’t know.
Nagoya’s a nice place, but I could live without going back there this year. First up is tomorrow’s game 5. Clearly, it’s critical. Win and the pressure is on Chunichi to win both at home. Lose and it’s all on us. We get a pitching rematch from Game 1 – Naruse vs Yoshimi. I’ll be in the gaiya screaming my head off!
Hey, so it’s a three game series, at least one game we have to win on the road. That’s better than the Climax Series – either stage, right?