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Nippon Series Game 4 – Wasted Chances

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.

Whew.

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?

Comments 3

  1. Agree with the comments. The Marines had quite a few chances to “kill” the match, but didn´t go through. I also felt that the team broke down after missing the 10th. Hope they get their motivation up for tomorrow´s game.

  2. I agree too with the comments and what you have written. Should have scored in the 10th innning. Thought maybe when Chunichi had the left handed pitcher who I forget the name of, maybe Nishimura should have changed Fukuura with a right handed batter then. But these things are easy to say after the game. Tsuyoshi’s foul was a foul by 20cm or so. Karakawa was not great but not very bad either, he was more like so-so. Seemed more like a question of faith and Nishimura didn’t have too much faith in Karakawa but had more to his bullpen. Morino had a 3 base hit, after Kiyota diving after the ball and just not being able to catch it. Don’t blame Kiyota there. It was a great effort. The day before he had a similar play where he made that catch. Had he made that catch then things might have looked different yesterday.

    They said it was 11 degrees at Marines Stadium last night on TV which is pretty cold but noticed the pitcher of Dragons, Yamamoto wearing short sleeves. I don’t know if it was due to him wearing short sleeves but he had some of the funniest wild pitch I have ever seen. He throws a ball and the ball goes 5 meters or so wide of the catcher into no where. A WTF moment.

  3. Oh yeah, I forgot about that Yamamoto wild pitch. That was crazy!

    I certainly wasn’t complaining about Kiyota’s effort on the Morino triple. I like that he and Okada were trying to make plays out there. Okada’s play on the Oshima smash was great instinct – he almost got there. Kiyota damn near got Morino out at third on that triple anyway, and it was a hell of a good effort to get his glove on that ball in the first place.

    I was talking about the defense on the 5th inning play(s) – the Ono error and the Imae not-so-good-play that led to the bases-loaded no out situation. Not so good.

    I thought Karakawa was fine until right before he got pulled. Dragons batters were definitely starting to see his pitches more, so I think it was not a bad idea to get him out of there. Ono pitched pretty well in relief, I thought. I also thought Nishimura should have considered pulling Kim in the 6th with Imae on third and a righty pitcher – he could have substituted Ohmatsu as he would only need his bat, not his legs, and Fukuura could move to first. Hindsight is great that way, though.

    My phone said it was 10 out there, and it was a breezy 10, too. My hands were freezing – I brought kairo for tonight in case it’s just as cold.

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