Looks like we’ve made it out of interleague alive. We finished with a 12-12 record versus the Central League, alternating wins and losses (LWLWLWLWLWL) in our last 11 games. Overall, June as been a little less kind to us, with Our Marines going 6-9 so far in the month. At 31-35-1, we sit 2 games back of Nippon Ham for the 3rd spot in the PL. We return to the PL schedule this weekend with the first place Orix Buffaloes coming to Chiba. Orix leads SoftBank by .5 games, and is 10 games up on us.
It’ll be interesting to see how the rotation comes to form as we return to a six man rotation. One of those potential six hurlers, Furuya, was sent down to ni-gun before this series after a rough stint out of the bullpen versus Yakult. It looks like Naruse’s return to the rotation was short lived, as he was deregistered with a shoulder injury after Monday’s win. Of the 5 other Marines that started games in June, only Wakui and Fujioka had wins in June, with only one win a piece.
By: Craig Roberts Yes! We've broken the string of alternating losses and wins. Oh, two straight losses is a bad thing. Never mind. On the subject, when was the last time we won two straight games? Oh ya, in late May when we reeled off 6 in a row. Coincidentally, the last time we won 2 straight before that was a 6 game streak in late April. So, back to this game. The Buffaloes ace Kaneko made his first start against us in 2014, and 1 hit us through 7. The Orix bullpen held on to the shutout in the 8th and 9th innings for our 7th shutout loss of the year.
Our Marines got 3 hits in total on the evening, with our first coming in the 6th. Kanazawa provided that hit, right after ending the top of the 6th by throwing out Adachi trying to steal 2nd base. Kanazawa had 2 (single & double) of Lotte’s 3 hits, with Daichi getting the only other hit, a single in the 8th. Besides that and a nice Okada catch (see video below), there really isn’t anything positive left to say about this game. Kaneko was great, and Orix made some nice plays behind him to keep us off the board. Down 6-0 in the 8th, we did put two 2-out runners on after the Kanazawa double and a Huffman HBP, but an Iguchi PH strikeout ended our only real scoring threat of the game.
On the other hand, Fujioka gave up a run to Orix in each of the first three innings. An Itoi RBI double came in the first, a T-Okada solo HR came in the 2nd, and Adachi hit a solo jack in the 3rd. A Cruz bobble helped Wily Mo Pena to get an IF single to lead off the 6th. The next batter T-Okada came up next and hit his 2nd HR of the game, this time a two run blast to make it 5-0 Orix. A Cruz error led to a run off Minami in the 8th, but a strike ’em-out-throw-em out double play ended the inning. In addition to his two hits, Kanazawa threw out 2 of 2 Orix base stealing attempts. Former Fighter and recent ikusei call-up Kanamori loaded the bases in the 9th, but came out unscathed in his first Lotte appearance.
At least Okada gave the fans something to cheer about on half-price “360 Beer Stadium” night. This is the play that got Kanamori out of the 9th.
By: Craig Roberts Our Marines came up just a bit short on multiple occasions this afternoon with the end result showing exactly that. Wakui gave us 7 1/3 of 3 run ball, his best start since a 8 inning 2 run performance over a month ago. There was a lot of bend but don’t break from Wakui, giving up 8 hits and a walk, including a stretch where 2 Buffaloes reached base in each of the first 3 innings. Unlike some past performances though, he weathered the Orix attack enough to last fairly deep into this game. In relief of Wakui, Masuda uncorked a run scoring wild pitch in the 8th to put Orix up 4-1. This turned out to be the difference in the game, thanks to a 2-run Lotte rally in the 9th. Still Wakui gets the loss, but a severe lack of inspired hitting earlier in the game should really the first thing we point to when doing the post mortem on this loss.
Lotte stuck back in the home half with a one out single of their own, provided by Captain Daichi. An Imae double to the right field corner put runners on 2nd and 3rd for Cruz, who walked to load the bases. Saburo delivered with the bases loaded sending a fly ball deep enough to right to score a tagging Daichi. Huffman grounded out to short to end the inning, M’s & B’s tied 1-1 after 1. We’ll take the 1 run, but looking back we really should have taken more advantage of a base loaded 1 out chance.
Orix struck back in the 3rd with a Hirano leadoff single and German 2 run home run (3rd RBI of the game) to take the lead 3-1 Orix. Wakui settled down quite nicely after that, allowing just 2 of the next 16 batters to reach base safely. So, this should be the part where the Lotte bats do their part to recapture the lead…
…Ya, that never happened though. After Lotte went down in order in innings 2, 3 & 4, recently promoted Aomatsu led off the 5th with a single to right. The number 8 hitter Kawamoto followed by popping up a bunt attempt to the catcher for the first out, then the number 9 man Ishimine grounded into a double play to finish off the inning. Not quite sure why you bunt down two runs at this stage in the game.
Kiyota led off the next inning with a triple into right center, thanks in part to the right fielder Itoi losing sight of the ball as it landed at the base of the wall. Maybe a leadoff single doesn’t always lead to a run, but surely we finally cut into the lead via the leadoff triple. Nope, Daichi pops just behind second base, Imae grounds out to short, and Cruz flies out to center. Kiyota is left stranded at 3rd.
There’s another missed chance in the next inning too. Fukuura came in to pinch hit for Aomastu with two out and none on in the 7th. In his first AB of 2014, fan favorite Fukuura lines a base hit to center. Brazell comes into the pinch hit for Kawamoto, and hooks a single into right to put two runners on. Kawamoto’s number gets called to pinch hit for the number 9 hitter Ishimine, and grounds out to first to end the inning.
Wakui came out to pitch the 8th inning, but was pulled after a one out Adachi hit on his 116th pitch. Masuda comes out of the pen to face German. Adachi gets his 2nd stolen base of the game, and German is walked with first base now open. Itoi follows with a deep fly to the warning track in center, but Okada hunts it down and makes a nice over the shoulder catch to retire Itoi. Adachi tags and advances to 3rd though. With T-Okada at the plate next, Kanazawa set up low and inside for a 2-1 pitch. A throw high and outside crosses up Kanazawa, and the ball bounces off the heel of his glove and toward the backstop. Adachi scores from 3rd and it’s 4-1 Orix. Adachi’s stolen base and subsequent tag up set up the Buffaloes 4th, and ultimate winning, run. The B’s run in the first inning also was set up by an Adachi stolen base.
Daichi got a one out base hit in the bottom of the 8th, but was unable to advance. Ohtani sent Orix down 1-2-3 in the top of the 9th, so that sent us to the bottom of the 9th inning to face Orix closer Hirano down 4-1.
Saburo led off the 9th with a double to left-center to get things going. Chad Huffman lined a double passed 3rd and down the left field line to score Saburo and bring the tying run to the plate at 4-2. Fukuura advanced Huffman to third on a ground ball to 2nd, and Okada brought Huff home with a sac fly deep enough into left field foul territory. Advancing the runner and an RBI sac fly is good and all, but what we really needed was base runners, not outs. The lead is cut it to 4-3, but the bases are now empty with 2 out. Up next is Kanazawa in the do or die spot, and he strikes out swinging to end the game. We ended up out hitting Orix 9-8, but Orix did more with their chances than we did and got the win as a result.
-Wakui’s line: 7 1/3 IP, 116P, 8H, 1HR, 3K, 1BB, 4R, 3ER.
-Daichi had Lotte’s only multi-hit game, 2-for-4 with two singles and a run scored.
By: Craig Roberts Our Marines broke out of their three game skid with a win over Orix on Sunday afternoon. Rookie Ayumu Ishikawa had yet another suburb start, a nice bounce back from last Sunday’s shelling in Nagoya. He threw eight innings of shutout four-hit ball in the win. The Lotte bats left a lot to be desired, stranding nine runners on the day. Kakunaka came through with what turned out to be the game winning hit though, a two-out two-run triple in the 3rd. Things got a little dicey with Nishino closing the 9th, but in the end he preserved the win for Ishikawa.
The Lotte offense was not nearly as brilliant as Ishikawa, but did just enough to outscore their opponents. The scoring came in the third inning, and it started with a Kanazawa leadoff single up the middle. Chad Huffman came up next and laid down a bunt to the pitcher Dickson. Dickson pumped toward 2nd base, then turned to fire to first. Little did he realize it was Mr. Huff-n-Hustle running down the line. Thanks to Dickson’s hesitation Huffman beat the throw for an infield single, giving Our Marines and 2-on 0-out chance. Okada struck out for the 1st out, and Daichi popped out foul of third on a decent catch by German for out number 2, both failing to advance the runners. Kakunaka made sure not to waste this Lotte chance, and he delivered with a double to the wall in right. Kanazawa scored from second, and Huff motored around from first to make it a two run triple for Kakunaka. 2-0 Marines!
That was it for Chiba scoring for the day, despite two bases loaded chances later in the game. The first chance came in the 5th inning, starting with a Chad Huffman double off the 3rd baseman German’s glove. German deflected the ball into foul ground, and a heads up Huffman took second on a head first slide. Okada got a bunt single to put runners on the corners, and then advanced on a ball in the dirt. Kakunaka struck out for the 2nd out, and Braz walked (after a delay for the catcher Ito to get treatment on his hand) to load the bases. Imae grounded into a fielder’s choice force out at second to end the inning.
The other bases loaded chance came in the 8th after a Braz 1-out double off the wall in center, followed by walks to Aomatsu & Iguchi versus relievers Maestri and Nakayama respectively. Kishida came in for Orix and got Cruz to line out to center and struck out Kanazawa to end the threat.
So, with 9 Marines left on base, it was up to Nishino to get the save in the 9th. You may wonder, “Why didn’t Ishikawa go out to complete the game at 94 pitches? Wasn’t he left in to throw 119 pitches last Sunday while giving up 9 runs (6 ER) in 6IP in the process? Where’s the logic in leaving him out so long last weekend, then pulling him so quickly today?” Well, if you wondered that, so did I.
Anyway, back to Nishino. Hirano led off with a single to center to bring the B’s chances back to life. Hara was in to PH next, and sent a sharply hit chopper
through the hole between first and second and into right field. NO! Cruz (starting at 2B today, because that’s what you do with an MLB caliber SS known for his glove) reaches out and snags the ball perfectly on the bounce, makes the transfer and completes a back handed flip to first for the out! (You can see the replay below). Nishino is spared a 2-on 0-out jam. He then proceeded to strike out German for the second out. Itoi came up next and sent a single to left to score Hirano. Uh-oh, it’s now 2-1 with the tying run at first. Nishino comes through though and strikes out the dangerous T-Okada to end the game. Marines win! Whew!
Cruz’s rally killing, potentially game saving play in the 9th.