Our Marines return home after going 5-1 on last week’s road trip. We get back to action Friday night in Chiba, a day after our 6 game win streak was broken in Sendai. Thanks to the recent run though, Our Marines are back in the top half of the PL standings for the first time this year.
This weekend we welcome our closest PL neighbors, the Seibu Lions. The Lions are dead last in the PL, sporting a 9-20 record. With the Lions averaging less than 1 win in every 3 games played, we should expect to take this series at home. It’s looking like Naruse in game 1, Fujioka in game 2, and “Sunday” Ayumu Ishikawa in the finale.
By: Craig Roberts
Kishi throws a no hitter.
I don't like rooting against guys in moments like these. But when it's against your biggest rival, in a close game, it can't be helped. Still, Kishi somehow managed to overcome the supernatural powers of my incessant no hitter jinxes and completed the no-no. Now that it's said and done, let's take a moment to congratulate Kishi on the no hitter, the Lions' first in nearly 18 years. If not for an Iguchi full count walk in the 1st, this would have been a perfect game. Kishi struck out 8 Lotte batters on 117 pitches thrown. If you're looking for a more detailed report, I suggest the Seibu Lions premier English language fansite.1
A two run 2nd inning for Seibu was more than enough offense to take this one. Naruse kept this game close though, giving up only those 2 runs on 5 hits over 7 innings of work. He struck out 6, but also allowed 5 free passes to first base. The walks hurt, especially in the 2nd inning. Two walks and a hit set the stage for to the 2 out 2 run eventual game winning single by Watanabe in the 2nd. A double, an error, and a walk also caused some trouble for Naruse in the 7th. Naruse ended his night by striking out Nakamura to escape the bases loaded jam though. Minami threw 2 shutout innings of relief to keep this a competitive game, but with Kishi being literally unhittable, it was all for naught.
1So, I just checked. It turns out there is no Premier English Language Seibu Lions Fansite. In light of that news, here’s a youtube clip of the last out that should be friendly to those of you outside Japan.
By: Craig Roberts Our Marines appear to be back to their recent winning ways, rebounding from last night’s no hit effort to beat the Lions 5-1. Fujioka, with a little help from his friends in the the bullpen, earned his first win of 2014 pitching 5 2/3 scoreless innings. The Lotte bats handled the rest, highlighted by two home runs. Imae, with an RBI already to his credit, smacked a two run shot in the 3rd. Rookie catcher Yoshida added his first career jack, a solo bomb in the 7th.
Innings 1-3:Kikuchi had some control issues in the first, which helped set up our first run. An Ogino single (finally breaking an 0-22 start to the season) led off the inning, followed by walks to Daichi & Iguchi to load ‘em up with 0 out. Three straight Lotte outs prevented it from being a break out 1st inning though. At least we plated one runner, which came while making the first out via an Imae fielder’s choice RBI. Imae sent a liner straight back to the mound, deflecting off Kikuchi’s glove and toward the 2nd base side of short. The deflection altered the ball’s course and velocity enough to make turning two an impossibility. The only play was to second, and in the process Ogino scored to make it 1-0 Lotte.
Ogino got the chance to lead off the 3rd inning as well, and this time he made his way to second base thanks to a throwing error on a grounder to short. Daichi bunted him over to 3rd to give Imae a chance to send Ogino home for a second time. Imae decided that a simple sac fly would not allow him to experience the joy of scoring himself, so he ratcheted up the power and sent a ball over the fence in left to bring the total to 3-0 Marines!
Meanwhile, Fujioka took it upon himself to exact some revenge for yesterday’s no hitter by not allowing a hit himself for the first three innings. He did walk a batter in both the 2nd and 3rd, pushing his pitch count up to 54. Center fielder T. Ogino, making his first start in over 3 weeks, continued to leave an impression on the early innings. He made a fine running catch in the left center gap to record the last out of the 3rd inning.
The Lotte bats went quiet for the middle innings, while the Lions lineup started to shake off their hangover from the night before. Fujioka found himself in a bit of a tight spot, with two on and two out in the 4th. He induced a Cody Ransom 3-2 infield pop out to put that threat to rest. The strong afternoon winds caused a little confusion amongst the Lotte infielders, but Iguchi secured the catch nonetheless.
Fujioka found himself in a slightly more precarious predicament in the 6th, loading the bases on a hit and pair of walks with 1 out. A foul pop fly to Iguchi got Fujioka one out away from surviving the inning, but at 103 pitches Itoh-kantoku had seen enough. He called on Masuda to get the third out, and he did exactly that striking out Wakiya on a check swing at a ball in the dirt to end the inning.
The Lotte bats added one more run in the bottom of the frame. A Saburo blooper fell in between three fielders in shallow center to score Imae from third with one out. Imae had previously reached base on a leadoff double, before being bunted over to third by Kakunaka.
Lotte scored their fifth run of the game in the bottom of the 7th. Yoshida led off with a deep fly to left. The ball was deep enough to leave the yard, landing in the Seibu ouendan for the rookie’s first career homerun. The camera panned over to his senpai Satozaki watching and grinning from ear to ear as Yoshida rounded the bases before being greeted by his teammates upon his return to the dugout.
The Marines pen finished off the job, with Masuda coming back out to complete the 7th, Rosa entering for the 8th, and Nishino closing the door in the 9th. Rosa did give up a solo blast to Asamura, but Seibu was going to need a lot more than that to make us sweat this one out. Final score 5-1 Marines.
– Ogino got on base 4 out of 4 times today with two singles, a walk, and a reach on error. He scored 2 runs, and was caught stealing once.
– Imae finished 2 for 4 with a HR, double, 3 RBI, and 2 runs scored.
– Since taking over for Karakawa’s spot in the rotation, Fujioka has given up just one earned run in 2 starts, 11 1/3 IP.
By Steve Novosel I gotta be honest with ya; this game well and truly bummed me out. It was more like a September game than a May game. Our Marines roared back from an early deficit to take a lead, only to cough that lead up 3 times before losing for good in the 9th.
Super rookie Ishikawa got the start, and for the first time this year he was pretty ineffective2. In the second inning, Okawari-kun drew a walk and was driven in by an Uemoto double. Nagae singled right after, but a stellar throw by Chad Huffman in right gunned down Uemoto at the plate to keep it at a 1-0 score.
2 I gotta beat the drum of the crappy officiating again. The dodgy strike zone led all pitchers, especially both starters, to have to fire balls more over the plate than they would have liked. And it showed, with both starters leaving the game very early.
That Seibu lead would increase in the third inning with a Kuriyama double bringing in Watanabe, a bases loaded sac fly off the bat of Kimura, and a timely single by Yoneno. Ishikawa, who had not given up more than 3 runs all year, gave up 4 runs through 3. 4-0 Lions.
Our Marines would not roll over, though. With two outs in the bottom of the inning, T OGINO rocketed a double off the fence that just missed being a homer. A pair of walks (surprise!) loaded the bases for Imae, who brought in a run via an infield single, and a Kakunaka single brought in two more. The 4-0 deficit was now trimmed to 4-3.
In bottom 4, Chiba got another 2 out rally going, started by a Nemoto single and a T OGINO walk (shocking!). That allowed Captain Daichi to tie it with a single, and Imae to un-tie it with another single. The 4-0 deficit turned into a 5-4 lead!
But alas, this lead would not last as Ishikawa delivered a pair of 1-out walks in the 5th and was pulled for Minami . Minami started his appearance with… 7 straight balls (really???) before giving up a game-tying sac fly to Yoneno. 5-5 after 5 innings.
Again, Chiba would retake the lead in the 6th. A leadoff walk to Nemoto (so rare!), a T OGINO sac bunt, and a Daichi single gave Iguchi some men to work with, and he singled in a run to break the deadlock at 6-5.
As you well know, this lead wouldn’t hold either. Matsunaga took over for Minami in the 7th, and with runners on the corners with one out, Kimura hit a sac fly to score Kuriyama and tie the game at 6.
More was needed.
Togame stayed in for his 3rd inning of relief in the 8th, and with one out T OGINO stroked a single to left – NO, it’s T OGINO and he stretches it to a double – very few guys could have done that. Captain Daichi came to the plate with a chance to break the tie and BOY DID HE – the Seibu killer smashed a liner off the right field foul pole to break the deadlock and make it an 8-6 lead!
9th inning, Nishino time. Nishino, perfect on the year, nary a run yielded and very few baserunners. But this is not a normal day – first batter Kuriyama, 4 pitch walk. A fly out and then Okawari-kun is drawing another walk (his 4th of the game, can you believe it? Yeah, you probably can.) Kimura singles and we are officially in “Oh no…..” territory. The defense is in double play position, and Yoneno pokes a ball that would have been right at Daichi had he not been in double play position – 2 runs in, tie game. Ohhhhhhh…. Next batter Ginjiro – Same. Exact. Thing. The 2 run lead, gone – Seibu is up 9-83.
3 It must be pointed out that Okada filled in at center on defense, and he made a catch that truly only Okada could make to save yet another run.
But there’s still a chance! Kakunaka draws a leadoff walk (the first – no – the 16th of the game), Ishimine bunted him over. Pinch hitter Saburo lined one to center – caught. Pinch hitter Cruz hits an infield single to short – Kakunaka is almost caught out at 3rd, but he’s barely back in. That brought up pinch hitter Satozaki – and a weak pop to right. Crap.
I’d like to say I feel better about this third game a day later, but really I don’t. What will make me feel better is a nice series win at Osaka – I’m heading to Kyocera Dome to see Our Marines bounce back in style!