It hasn’t always been pretty, but the 2013 Chiba Lotte Marines are playing some pretty decent ball right now. More importantly, a recent run of 10 wins in 14 games has got Our Marines just 1.5 games out of first place.
What happened? The pitching settled down for one. With the exception of the first two games at Seibu Dome, Lotte pitching has been pretty damn good. Perennial ace Naruse has been blazingly hot – 0.99 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 3/1 K/BB, and an unblemished 4-0 record. Strong stuff, even by his standards. Much more surprising has been the emergence of Yuji Nishino, up from Ikusei to the 6th best ERA in the league at 1.76. Karakawa has been decent but not spectacular, and we’ve gotten serviceable starts from Fujioka and blast-from-the past Yuta Ohmine.
The pen’s been a mixed bag but it’s anchored by a suddenly strong Hattori, awesome rookie Matsunaga, and the ever-reliable Masuda, league leader in saves and good luck charm for a Lotte win. 13 Masuda appearances, 13 Lotte wins.
This has ALL been without Satozaki, all been without our number 2 starter, Greisinger. Seth just had a rehab start at ni-gun last week so it stands to reason that he’s going to rejoin the rotation soon.
I got to go to Seibu Dome for game 3 of the Lotte-Seibu series and it was pure magic. Get down early, big four run comeback as we like to do at Seibu, and a game winning 9th inning dinger by Whitesell to top it all off. I love the weekday crowds in the Lotte OF at Seibu Dome – hardest of the hardcore. Daichi got his first career homerun in this game and the guy next to me – a big guy, even louder than me – totally lost his voice from going apeshit crazy. I put a few videos from the game’s aftermath at the end of this post.
Saturday’s start to the Lotte-Daiei series was a pitcher’s duel for much of the game but in the end one pitcher stood tallest – Naruse. Only a single HR to Uchikawa marred the start – a complete game, 11 pitch, 8 K, 3 hit master class. But the HR to Uchikawa just framed the game perfectly – immediately after, Our Marines rallied to tie the game in the Lucky 7th off a timely bases-loaded knock by Okada and took the lead for good with a great smack by Kakunaka to plate two. With Naruse pitching so well there was no way Lotte could lose.
The second game features Ohmine vs last year’s Super Rookie Takeda, who’s been very good indeed against us. Can we break through for a win?
Here’s some videos from Seibu Dome.[cvg-gallery galleryId=’2′ mode=’showcase’ limit=’5′ /]