Was it indeed the best of times, the worst of times? Perhaps not, but Wednesday’s game and Thursday’s games at Seibu Dome were about as different as could be. In game one, great pitching by an ensemble of arms led to a solid 4-1 victory, but in game two anyone who stepped on the mound for Lotte got lit up as Our Marines lost 11-4.
Furuya on the hill and looking great – with the exception of his second start at Kleenex, that’s been his thing. In this game my buddy was fantastic for 5 innings – 1 hit, no runs, 4 Ks – before getting into a huge jam in the 6th. In that inning, Furuya gave up a double, hit by pitch, and a single to Watanabe to load the bases, then walked Kuriyama to put a run on the board for Seibu. That was it, and Itoh-kantoku went to the pen. UCHI.
Anybody who has bothered to read me for a while knows how much I like Uchi. No – LOVE Uchi. But he hasn’t been around ichi-gun at all this year, and in ni-gun wasn’t throwing all that great. Still, he got the post All Star call up and was thrown into a critical spot right off the bat. Bases loaded, Lions smelling blood. But he’s been here before, and Seibu Dome has no magic over him. One pitch, 5-4-3 DP, inning over. That’s my guy!
The rest of the pen did a lovely job as well. Uchi was followed by Matsunaga, who got the one out he was asked to get with a filthy slider to nail Hoshi. Rosa got into a jam of his own in the 8th but allowed nothing, and Masuda shut the door with 2 Ks and no baserunners in the 9th.The offense? Plenty, though it was all small ball. 14 hits, 13 of them for singles and 4 runs on the night. Iguchi and Nemoto with Modasho, Iguchi racking up the 1500th hit of his NPB career. Imae and Kakunaka also recorded a pair of hits each, and Daichi’s one hit scored Braz and Kakunaka in the second inning, and proved to be the game winner. A nice 4-1 win for Chiba.
Just awful. Basically worthy of the Mr Yuk designation except for… in a minute.
The Baby-Faced Killer got the start in this one, and though he has been dodgy all year there’s been signs he was coming out of his funk. His last two outings have been very solid indeed. This one? Garbage. 4+ innings, 9 hits, a walk, and 6 earned. I hate to say it – everyone knows I’ve been a fan of Karakawa since his rookie year – but he’s unequivocally the worst qualifying pitcher in Japan this year, and it ain’t even close.
The bullpen was equally horrid. Katsuki took over for Karaage-kun and immediately gave up a bomb to Akiyama. Abe took over for Katsuki and also looked bad – 7 hits and 4 ER for the pair in relief, and both got sent back to ni-gun after the game. The total damage? 11 runs, 10 earned, 16 hits, 5 of those for extra bases.
BUT STEVE you said “except for…” at the beginning! This sounds awful! It WAS awful, basically unwatchable except for big power smashes from Iguchi (his 18th of the year to left field) and Braz – again (his 4th and 5th of the year. NO – his 4th and 5th in the past 4 games!) Imae contributed a double and Daichi a triple (leading the league with 7!) – it’s easy to imagine how if the pitching was any good at all that the game could have gone much differently.
I just gotta bring up Braz again – he’s played 10 games for Our Marines, and in those 10 games he’s a) gotten a hit in every one b) racked up 17 hits in total and c) those 5 HRs – wow. What a nice signing he’s been!
Next up is a 3 game set in Sendai, starting with undefeated Tanaka vs Greisinger. Time for some revenge for the beating we took at the beginning of the month!