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Rough Up Rakuten! 10-12 September 2013

Girl, you know it's true.Series Preview: Folks, this is the last stand vs Rakuten. If Our Marines have any chance at all at winning the Pacific League title this year this series must be won. Not only won, we need to sweep it. There’s still 5 games left with the Eagles, 4 of them are at home, and 3 of them are happening this week.

There is no denying these are the most crucial games to date this season.

The pitching staff is hurting – Nishino out, Naruse out – as are the position players with Imae off the roster. Yet still we sit in second place. We can do this.


Game 1 (10 Sep) - Lotte Wins 9-2

Rakuten: Kenny Ray 0-0, 1.96 ERA @ Lotte: Yuki Karakawa 8-9, 4.12 ERA

By Steve Novosel In the bottom of the Lotte Lucky 7, in my perch in the right field stands of QVC on this lovely late-summer evening, with Our Marines sitting on a 5-1 lead with the bases loaded and Nemoto at the plate, Nemoto swinging at a 2-0 pitch from Koyama, making great contact, the ball sailing high and deep through the air, at that time – I was inspired to song.”]

from marines.co.jp

from marines.co.jp

With extreme apologies to Dexy’s Midnight Runners…

Come On Marines
Poor old Kenny Ray
He took a ball off the head1
Had to leave the game
In came Fukuyama
Then Koyama
Gave up a grand slam

We scored runs, nine runs
Now we’re closer to the pennant
(Come on Marines!)
Too-ra-loo-ra, too-ra-loo-rye-ay!
Their lead is down to five games

Come on Marines
Oh I swear
On this evening, it was a hell of a game
With that offense
And the pitching
Pretty filthy
Oh come on, Marines!

Ahem.

1Actually, I don’t mean to make light of the Ray incident. He took a Daichi liner off his face in the second inning and had to be rushed to the hospital. Apparently he has a broken bone in his face.

The Baby-Faced Killer was superb in this start, going 7 innings and only allowing one run. He lost his last game after pitching so well early on, this time plenty of Lotte run support and tough pitching when getting into a jam allowed Yuki to make his longest start in 2 months. With this win, Karakawa has won 4 of his last 5 starts. So nice to have him back.

Ray got himself into a lot of trouble before the accident in the second. In the bottom of the first, Kakunaka led off with a double to deep left, and a Nemoto grounder bumped him to second allowing Iguchi to plate Kakunaka easily via the sac fly – 1-0 Lotte.

In the bottom of the second, Saburo (starting in left) completely crushed a 2-0 fastball to center, ricocheting the ball off an unsuspecting cameraman and giving Chiba the 2-0 lead. Daichi got on next via the ball off Ray, so Fukuyama came in as an emergency reliever. Two batters later, Hosoya Kei (starting at third for the injured Imae) belted a fastball almost to the same spot as Saburo – his first homer of the year (and only the 5th of his career) and a 4-0 Lotte lead!

Fukuyama settled down after that, and Rakuten score a run in the third to make it a 4-1 game. Koyama took over in the 6th and sent the boys back to the bench in order. Our Marines were far from being finished scoring, though,as Koyama’s good pitching did not extend to the Lucky 7.

Daichi led of the frame with a single to left, and a T OGINO sac bunt sent him to second. Possibly annoyed by such tactics, Koyama plunked Satozaki in the back and walked Hosoya to load the bases for Kakunaka with just one out. And Kakunaka delivered – a single to center, Daichi in, a 5-1 Lotte lead! But wait, there’s more, there’s NEMOTO – his drive was never ever in doubt. Nemoto looked at it for a second, tossed the bat, and bounded around the sacs for his first ever grand slam. 9-1 Lotte, a total laugher, and one pissed off Hoshino-kantoku in the dugout. Mission accomplished.

Rakuten got a meaningless run in the top of the 9th via a big line drive homer by Andruw Jones off the normally reliable Rosa2 but who cares. We all knew who was winning this one.

2It would seem that pitch was one of Rosa’s 99 problems, to be honest.

It felt great, but it’s just one game. We demand MORE. More comes tomorrow as Ohtani faces Mima back at QVC.

Come on Marines, Too-ra-ay
Come on Marines, Too-ra-ay
Come on…

Game 2 (11 Sep) - Lotte Loses 7-0
Rakuten: Manabu Mima 5-4, 4.44 ERA @ Lotte: Tomohisa Ohtani 2-3, 6.00 ERA

By Steve Novosel This game was the polar opposite of Tuesday’s win. Ohtani got stomped on early and often, giving up a pair of 3-run HRs to Andruw Jones and Casey McGehee in just 3 2/3 innings as Lotte dropped the second game of this series 7-0. So much for ‘must win.'”] Mr YukWhat you really need to know about this game is this: For the second time in a month Ohtani coughed up a big first inning bomb, but unlike that game in August he stayed in long enough to give up another. And yet again, should-be-starters Ueno and Fujioka had to rescue the game. They pitched great, but you don’t get so many 7 run comebacks.

Fujioka was more than great – 5 IP, 2 H, no runs. Too bad they were innings 5-9 when nothing was really at stake anymore. As for Ohtani – he had shown some signs of quality recently as his start against Daiei last month was quite strong, but after this one it’s hard to see how he gets any many more chances to start, even with our decimated rotation. ‘Fun’ Ohtani fact: In 39 IP this year he’s given up 8 HRs, which puts him 15th on the PL list of homers yielded in about a third of the IP of the leaders. I LIKE Ohtani, but he needs to spend some time in ni-gun to figure this out.

The offense? Stinky. A chance for runs in the first ended in a DP, and the only other bright spot was a T OGINO modasho. But that’s not all that bright of a bright spot when you’re getting slaughtered. Credit goes to Mima, Kaneta, and Kamata (welcome back!) for shutting down the same lineup that scored 9 the night before.

The deficit behind the Eagles is back to 6, and as I write this it looks like Daiei is going to win, so the relationship between Our Marines and their pursuers is going to tighten up a bit. Let’s get a win tomorrow.

Game 3 (12 Sep) - Lotte Loses 6-2

Rakuten: Jim Heuser 1-1, 8.04 ERA @ Lotte: Seth Greisinger 5-3, 4.50 ERA

By: Craig Roberts Sorry for the delay folks, we’ve both been a little preoccupied with Coco Balentien’s quest for HR #56.  As I write this, Play Ball is just over an hour away in our next series. So, I’m going to keep this short.

A Lotte failure to turn a double play in the 6th was the pivotal moment of this game.  Seth Greisiner threw five shutout innings of baseball, but was pulled after giving up the tying run to Kaz Matsui with one out in the 6th.  Matsui’s hit also loaded the bases, as Nakagoh came in to relief Seth in a tight spot with the scoreboard reading 1-1.  Nakagoh got Shima to hit what should have been an inning ending double 6-4-3 double play.  Daichi quickly tossed the ball to second for the first out, and Nemoto had plenty of time to beat the veteran catcher Shima with a throw to first.  However, Nemo short hopped the throw a bit wide of the bag and Iguchi couldn’t scoop it up.  Instead of escaping with the tie intact, two Eagles crossed the plate to make it a 3-1 game.  Rakuten tacked on one more before the inning was over to put Lotte in a 4-1 hole.  Two more Rakuten runs in the ninth basically sealed the deal at 6-2.

The closet our Marines came after the top of the 6th was 4-2 after a Kei Hosoya solo shot in the 7th.  Our other run on the night came earlier on a Daichi RBI single in the 4th.  Hosoya and Daichi each had two hits on the night.  It was an unlucky night for Iguchi (1-for-3 BB), who was robbed of two additional hits and likely 2RBI thanks to two nice defensive plays by the Eagles outfield.

 

Comments 4

  1. I’ve noticed everybody on Twitter is REALLY damn depressed about tonight’s game. It’s a shame, and it’s a killer, but we’re GOING to Climax and we have a chance.

    Can’t ask for more than that.

    1. The question is: Are we going to be hosting in round 1 or traveling to (most likely) Fukuoka? How much does it matter for us to shore up the second slot? Is it worth going all out down the stretch for? Or is it better to think long term and set things up for Climax, whether it be on the road or at home?

      1. It’s pretty important, I think. Not just on a wins and losses basis as well, but psychologically.

        I just looked it up – since 21 April we’ve been in first or second place, with the exception of the bad stretch in July where we slipped into 3rd from 26 July-8 August. It’s damn near the entire season. We all think the team SHOULD be in first now, and of course we could be in first were it not our recent failings against Rakuten. So to slide back down and not even host a Climax Series game? Pretty tough.

        On a purely W/L basis, I’ll just say this: .610 winning % at QVC, .476 winning % on the road.

  2. One thing I just noticed that depresses the hell out of me: You know how happy I am that we have performed so well this season when everyone predicted us last. we should finish second and that is just fantastic.

    But the attendance has been AWFUL all season and I cannot figure out why. Take a look at Baseball Freak’s data (in Japanese, but it should be readable for everyone:

    http://baseball-freak.com/audience/

    We’re last in overall attendance, and 8 of this season’s worst attended games involved Lotte (6 at home). I have no explanation for this at all. Sure, the two worst were last minute rainout make up games, and three others were when it was really cold and the team was playing badly, but then there’s a weekend game in April with Rakuten.

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