Our Marines have dropped four of their last ten since we last checked in at the ten game mark. This brings us to our current record of 9-11 and 4th place in the early PL standings.Despite the recent slight down turn, there are still a lot of positives to be drawn from the early season performances of Our Marines. True, leaders Iguchi (.843 OPS), Kakunaka (.787 OPS), Cruz (.749 OPS), and Imae (.746 OPS) have collectively leveled off a bit from their hot starts. Still, Lotte is 2nd in the PL in runs scored thanks to the offensive production from this core group. Cruz is currently leading the PL in RBI with 19.
Despaigne is back too, fresh off his Cuban League MVP season. Although he’s off to a slow start in his first six games, it shouldn’t be long until his power helps lift a lineup that currently ranks last in PL home runs (5). Captain Daichi is showing signs of heating up too after a slow start in which his batting average peaked at .200 in the first 16 games. Back-to-back modashos versus SoftBank last weekend has helped bring his batting average up to .247.
Itoh-kantoku seems to have settled on the two young catchers Tamura and Yoshida as the mainstays behind the plate. The relative stability at the position seems to be paying dividends. Tamura had himself a 4-4 game last Friday against SoftBank. Yoshida’s done well in the back-up spot too, batting .238 with a home run.
As for the pitching, well…maybe that’s a bit more of a concern. Here’s what we know so far: It appears we have three reliable starters in Wakui (2-2 1.86), Ishikawa (2-0 2.25), and Rhee (3-0 3.33).
The remaining spots in the rotation are more-or-less a giant question mark. Kimura has had some bad luck en route to a 1-3 7.71 record in four starts. Kurosawa’s given up 2 ER in 6 1/3 IP in one start and one long relief appearance. We’ve also gotten three scoreless innings pitched from Ohmine in long relief. We haven’t seen a start from Fujioka or Karakawa since they were sent down to the farm, but Fujioka has been recently called back up. With the four through six spots still anyone’s for the taking, second round draft pick Eisuke Tanaka is scheduled to debut on April 29th in an attempt to become a potential fixture in the rotation.
Rosa (0 ER in 6 2/3 IP) and Matsunaga (1 ER in 7 1/3 IP) have been reliable in middle relief. Former closer Masuda has been sent down to ni-gun, and Nishino still isn’t quite back to last year’s dominate form with 8H, 4BB, 2WP, 2ER in 7 1/3 IP and 5 saves out of the closer’s spot.
Last Ten Games – Best Game Highlights, April 18 vs. SoftBank:
The most memorable game for me from the last ten games was a 9-0 Saturday afternoon shellacking of the Hawks at home. Rhee led the way shutting out the defending champs in seven innings pitched. Daichi broke out of his season-long slump with a double, two singles and an RBI for the modasho. The Chiba bats scored seven runs – all with two outs – in the 7th inning. Ogino had a bases clearing 3-run triple in the seven run 7th to blow the game open at 5-0, in addition to a first inning double which eventually led to the game’s first run. Cruz also had a 2-run single in the 7th to cap off the scoring at 9-0.