Things look more and more bleak for the 2014 Marines as the calendar advances further toward autumn. We headed into last weekend 5.5 games back of the Fighters for the 3rd and final post-season spot. Here we are three games later, and we’re still 5.5 back now with just 36 games to go.
I know I’ve written off the team on two separate occasions in just the last three weeks. We’re fans, that what we do. We’re still mathematically alive though, and this coming two week stretch is likely going to be the true determining period for Our Marines. The next two weeks features a home-and-home with the 2nd place Buffaloes, a home set with the 1st place Hawks in between, and then we end the month with a 3-game Tokyo Dome series versus the 3rd place Fighters.
Orix: Takahiro Matsuba (6-1 2.53) @ Lotte: Takuya Furuya (7-4 4.26)
Lotte scored 3 runs in the 1st inning, and then wouldn’t score again until the final play of the game. The 1st inning scoring started when Daichi was hit by a pitch, followed by a Kakunaka ground ball single through the left side of the infield to put runners on 1st and 2nd with 1 out. Despaigne was up next batting cleanup and nearly popped out foul on a 2-0 pitch. The first baseman originally went to the position himself under the ball just inside the foul line. The wind was coming off Tokyo Bay and in from left field at nearly max QVC power, pushing the high pop up into the stands and giving Despaigne a 2nd chance. Later on a 2-2 pitch Alfredo crushed a ball through the wind and just over the fence in left for a 3 run home run! On most nights that ball would have been long gone, but the end result is still Alfredo’s first QVC home run and 5th HR in 19 games! 3-0 Marines.
Furuya took it from there with 6 solid innings for his first quality start in his last 4 starts. He did allow 3 walks, but it was a Nakamura no out single followed by a wild pitch and an Itoh RBI single that led to his only earned run making it 3-1 in the 5th. Furuya came out at 106 pitches and 6 innings pitched. He allowed a 1-out double to German in the 6th, but got both Kawabata and T-Okada to ground out preventing a run from scoring in his last inning.
Captain Daichi got a lead off double to start the 3rd, but that was followed by a stretch of only 1 Lotte base runner in the next 16 batters. Masuda pitched a scoreless 7th on 1 hit in relief of Furuya, so we went to the 8th with the score still 3-1.
Ohtani came in to pitch the 8th, and Itoi led off the inning with an infield single. Imae took a bad hop off his chest allowing the speedy Itoi to reach base without a throw from 3rd. The next batter Wily Mo Pena reached down at a low and inside pitch and smacked a very hard hit line drive over the fence in left. Suddenly we are tied at 3-3. Kawabata got aboard with a 1-out single, but T-Okada hit into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
Lotte and Orix then exchanged missed chances in the home half of the 8th and top of the 9th. A Katoh lead off single, Daichi sac bunt, and Despaigne 2-out walk didn’t result in a run for Lotte in the 8th. Nishino was brought in to pitch the 9th. He allowed a 1-out walk to the number 9 man Itoh and a 2-out Adachi single, but struck out Itoi to end the inning.
So onto the bottom of the 9th. Like Lotte, Orix went with their closer Hirano in the 9th. Okada is in to pitch hit for Huffman and slaps a 1-1 pitch over the second baseman and into right for a lead off single. Imae sacrificed Okada over to 2nd base for out 1. Cruz followed and popped up to short for out 2. Extra innings seemed pretty likely with the number 9 man Tamura up next. Itoh-kantoku let his young catcher bat though, a move that would turn out to win us the game. Tamura grounded a 1-2 pitch up the middle, past the mound and through the infield! Itoi scoops up the ball in shallow center with Okada already just steps from home. Itoi spikes his throw just inside 2nd base as Okada slides in safely! Tamura is met with a bucket of water as he rounds 1st, followed by an ensuing pig pile! Lotte wins 4-3!!! SAYONARA!!!
Game 1 Digest from Pacific League TV
Game 1 Box Score in English
Orix: Brandon Dickson (7-9 3.74) @ Lotte: Yuta Omine (0-3 5.54)
– Ohmine allowed just one run despite giving up a hit in all five innings pitched. He was pulled after just 66 pitches in favor of Karakawa. It bares repeating that Karakawa struck out five batters in just two innings of relief following his turn being skipped in the rotation.
– Kakunaka drove in Katoh for Lotte’s first run of the game on an RBI triple to center, a ball that bounced out of Goto’s glove as he crashed into the wall. Kakunaka later scored when Despaigne reached by way of an error on a ground ball to 3rd base giving Lotte the lead for good at 2-1.
– Katoh had a modasho going 3-5 out of the lead off spot. He scored his 2nd of two runs in the 5th on an RBI single by Kakunaka. He also knocked in a run in the 8th on a bases loaded single.
– Imae also had a modasho going 3-3, adding a walk and two runs scored.
– Lotte scored three runs in the 6th after loading the bases with 0 outs. Huffman scored on a wild pitch, then later in the at bat Cruz drove in two more with a 0 out single to center.
– Lotte’s 8th run came on a bases loaded walk to Daichi in the 8th.
Game 2 Digest from Pacific League TV
Game 2 Box Score in English
Orix: Daiki Tomei (3-5 4.12) @ Lotte: Takahiro Fujioka (6-7 4.40)
– Fujioka has thrown over 100 pitches in three of his starts in August: 137, 146 and 113. He also threw on back-to-back days for a total of 106 pitches on August 8th and 9th.
– The no out runners on the corners chance for Lotte in the 8th ended on three consecutive strike outs.
– Fukuura left the game after making a nice catch in foul ground in the 7th, ramming into the photo well in the process. He’s day to day with a dislocated finger. In other injury news, Despaigne left last night’s game with a pulled back and should be out about two weeks.
– The score could have been much worse if not for two fine defensive plays by Huffman and Tamura. Huffman threw a runner out at home from left field to end the 7th. Tamura saved a run when he dove for a failed cut off attempt by Nemoto in the 8th.
Game 3 Digest from Pacific League TV
Game 3 Box Score in English