Series report – Lotte vs Orix, Kyocera Dome

I haven’t yet blogged anything about this series as I was hoping to wait for an optimistic moment following the disappointment in Tokyo last week.  I figured the next post should be on a positive note.

Oh well.

The two game losing streak became a 5 game losing streak, and the 2-1 record is now 2-6.  Hmm.  It’s the first week of the season and all, and all 5 losses were road games, but that’s just not good, any way you cut it.  In fact, I was really hoping for positives from this series as to me the series that killed our ‘Road to Miracle’ last year was the early-September road trip to Osaka.  That 3 game sweep looked like the death knell for the season at the time, but we were still in it until the last.  Of course, if just one of those losses turned into a win, the Marines are in the climax series.

But that was last year, and this year is all new, so the first series with Orix is a great time to get a leg up on this veteran team.  Well, that was the thinking before 18:00 Friday.

I can’t say I have any negative thoughts about Orix as I attended alot of their games when I lived in Kansai.  I’ve always thought it a bit sad how they’ve had to play second fiddle to the infintely more popular Tigers in Osaka (IIRC, they had difficulty selling out their playoff games last year.  Playoffs!) Plus, I’ve had a soft spot for Tuffy Rhodes since I used to watch him as a struggling outfielder on some truly awful Astros teams in the early 90s.  Not to mention they signed Jose Fernandez this offseason, who I’ve always liked.  But:  no time for sentiment; this is the regular season.

Friday’s game was a pure slugfest, with 18 runs off 27 hits combined.  Both starters were chased early – Shimizu for Lotte and Komatsu for Orix, arguably the ace of each staff – but Orix’s pen held strong until giving up 2 in the 9th, and the Marines lost their third in a row.

Some positives came out of this game – Iguchi, Nishoka, and Saburo continued their hot starts to the year going a combined 6 for 12.  Benny got on the board for the year with a very nice 2 for 5 with 3 RBIs.  Unfortunately Saburo struck out with two on, down by two to end the game 10-8.

In Saturday’s game the Marines just couldn’t get anything going and managed just two runs on 8 hits to fall 5-2.  They had a prime chance in the 7th with the bases loaded and probably their best clutch hitter, Imae, at the plate.  He struck out, though, and the losing streak stretched to 4.

Sunday’s game was a chance to end the series on a positive note.  The only positive I saw was Saburo’s 3rd HR of the season.  Sadly, it was in a 4-1 loss.

So the calendar changed to 2009, but the first series in 09 in the roomy confines of the Osaka Dome (I still prefer referring to it by it’s old name) ends up the same as the final series last year.

Redemption comes this week with 3 games vs Rakuten (with the WBC trophy in house, no less!) and 3 over the weekend with Softbank.  There’s rain in the forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday, but unless it’s pissing down I should be there for both and will post soon after the Lotte victories!

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