Or, perhaps more fittingly, the permanence of weather variations in Chiba – the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Tickets in hand for tonight’s game with Orix – looking forward to the first home game in a week. Weather: temps dropping. People supposed to go to the game with me: dropping out. Wisely, it seemed – rain in the air, temps dropping down, down. It seemed like snow a possibility. Then at 4:15, the email: game cancelled due to weather. It’s spring in Chiba; we expect these things.
Rather than duck off to the stadium a couple of friends and I stopped off at the Outback across from my office (and near-ish the stadium). It was pretty empty when we came in but gradually filled up. After a while I saw a familiar looking face leaving the restroom. I grab my baseball reference book…. hmm, yep. It’s Aarom Baldiris. I make an excuse to wander over to his table; he’s sitting with Alex Cabrera and Jon Leicester. I say hello and chat for a minute or so, let them know I am a Lotte fan but good luck anyway. So even when I don’t go to the baseball game the baseball comes to me.
Life for Lotte has been “Ho hum, more of the same” – after last weekend’s successful series against Seibu Lotte travelled to Sapporo for the first away series with the Fighters of 2010. 3 games – Karakawa, Ohmine, and Kawagoe on the hill – 3 victories. Tuesday’s game was a 10-inning thriller that featured Lotte turning a 3-1 deficit into a 7-3 advantage, only to fritter away that lead and go to extra innings. In extra innings Fukuura pinch hit and smacked a long bomb off reliever Urufu (OK, it’s Wolfe, but it’s written in Japanese as Urufu for mysterious reasons) and Kobayashi mopped up the 10th for the victory, 8-7.
Wednesday’s game was an absolutely stereotypical start from Ohmine – complete game, 4-Ks, 6-walks, 155 pitches in a 6-1 victory. Isn’t that how every start goes? We may regret all these 140-150 pitch starts Nishimura is allowing in September when our starters’ arms turn to melted butter, but for now it’s working peachily.
Thursday’s game was a gritty affair with Kawagoe keeping Nippon Ham to 3 runs while the game-sealing RBIs were delivered by Imaoka via bases-loaded single. That’s two guys basically kicked to the curb in the offseason by their former teams contributing mightily to a first place team. Who knows how these things will work some days?
I’ve wondered why Nishimura has kept Kawagoe in the 6th starter role while letting Ryoji Katsuki stew in ni-gun. Kawagoe is 36, the oldest man in ichi-gun (only Hori is older on the roster) and was never what you would call an above-average starter while Katsuki is 26 and doing great in ni-gun (last year 9-3 with a 2.45 ERA, 7 Ks/9 and a WHIP of around 1; this year so far he’s got a 1.80 ERA, almost 9 Ks/9 and a WHIP of 0.90). But while Kawagoe had an awful start a week ago, his other two starts have been solid; how can you really complain?
I figure there must be more moves to be made, personnel wise – last week Lotte sold reliever Kawasaki to Hanshin. I liked Kawasaki, he struck me as an fun guy and was quite decent for most of last year. We’re now down a pitcher, we still have one free foreign player slot – is there an overseas move in the works?
One thing for sure is looking more permanent – with this week’s sweep Lotte moves to a strong 15-5-1. Nothing to complain about there, that’s for sure.