The last series of the nine game homestand got started on Tuesday as Our Marines faced off against the hated Lions of Seibu, with Greisinger on the hill vs former ace Wakui. On this first night, Greisinger was the one to look like a former Sawamura award winner and Wakui, well, didn’t, as Chiba shut out Seibu for a 4-0 victory.
The second night didn’t go so well for the Men of Lotte as Seibu took game 2 of the set 6-1.
But in the third game, Our Marines utterly destroyed Seibu pitching, capped off by a pair of grand slams in the third inning en route to an 18-1 laugher of a win. With the series win – the 6th in a row – Chiba has moved to just 2.5 games behind first place Rakuten with 36 games to go.
Look back to 2008 or 2009 and Greisinger v Wakui would have been one of the premier pitching matchups. Wakui at that time was at his peak: Young and dominant, he won a Sawamura award at the age of 23. Greisinger had several fantastic years with the Kyojin before injuries slowed him, leading to his signing with Lotte last year.
Despite Seth having over 10 years on Wakui, Greisinger’s been on a career upswing in a Lotte uni while Wakui has become a major, major disappointment for Seibu. In the last several months Wakui has had more appearances out of the pen than as a starter, and after this game it looks like he may be heading back to the pen again. He was pulled after just 1 1/3 completely ineffective innings, giving up 3 runs on a hit and three walks. Koishi was pressed into immediate service for the Lions and was also ineffective, leading to Lions kantoku Watanabe to go to the pen yet again, this time bringing in Okamoto, who was able to get some outs.
I say all this to highlight the contrast between the confusion and bad pitching on the Saitama side and the rock-solid work by Seth, Ueno, Carlos Rosa, and Matsunaga for Our Marines. Greisinger looked great – one of his best outings of the year for sure (6 IP, 3 hits and 4 walks matched with 5 Ks and no runs) – and the pen was brilliant, again. The three men in stripes went 3 innings pitched giving up only 2 hits, no walks, and no runs. Ueno looked especially good to me – again making the case for a spot in the rotation as a 5th or 6th pitcher.
If you didn’t total all that up, it was a combined 5 hit shutout for Our Marines, which is especially sweet against our rivals from the west.
The offense? Lotte batters were very patient in taking pitches from a wild Wakui and Koishi. Nemoto (finally back in the lineup!) drew a pair of walks and scored a run, T OGINO drew one and stole a pair of bases and scored a run, and a previously mildly slumping Iguchi went 2-4 with an RBI single in the first.
Despite the 7 Lotte hits, the 4 Lotte runs were scored in small ball fashion: get runners on base, more runners on base, and good things will happen. Two of the Chiba runs scored without benefit of a timely hit – an Imae groundout and Daichi racing home on a wild pitch. The final score? A pleasing 4-0 Chiba win.
Shunksuke on the hill for this one, but he “Pulled a Wakui” as they say. 1 1/3 IP, 7 hits, 4 runs (3 earned). Fujioka got called in for mop-up duty again, throwing 79 pitched just 3 days after throwing 121 in relief.
This was just one of those games when nothing worked. Lotte scored a run, but it was with two outs in the 9th and Saburo got picked off second to end the game. 6-1 Seibu, and that’s all I’m saying about it.
Nothing subtle about this one – Lotte bats avenged past wrongs visited upon the club and committed a few new crimes of their own. You could call it animal cruelty – Lion torture.
I call it one hell of a fun game, and one I will be talking about for many years. Perhaps the best part of it was the pitching beneficiary was none other than The Baby-Faced Killer.
The starter for Seibu was veritable legend Fumiya Nishiguchi, still reasonably effective at the age of 40. It didn’t matter on this night, though, as he and basically every other arm Nabe-Q put on the hill “pulled a Wakui”. Ironically enough, Wakui came in the game in relief and was the only pitcher NOT to pull a Wakui!
I am not exaggerating at all – not one bit – to say this one looked much more like Lotte batting practice than a competitive baseball game. Our Marines jumped out to an early lead, kept adding to that lead by ones and twos before switching to fours. All told, every position player but Saburo got into the game, 9 Men of Lotte recorded hits (18 in total), 7 players knocked in RBIs (led by DAICHI with 6 and Iguchi with 5), and 4 players earned a modasho – Nemoto (3-5 with 2 RBI and 2 runs scored), Iguchi (3-3 with a walk, 5 RBI, 3 runs scored and a massive grand slam), Kakunaka (3-4 with a walk, 2 RBI, and 3 runs scored) and the offensive player of the game Daichi (4-5 with 6 RBI and 2 runs scored plus a grand slam).
The total damage – 18 runs on 18 hits and 7 walks. That’s 4 runs in the first, 2 in the second, 9 runs in the third including the Iguchi and Daichi bases-loaded jacks, another run in the 6th and the last two in the 7th. And for the pitchers? Sure 18 runs will win any game, but the Baby-Faced Killer went 6 innings of 4-hit ball, only giving up a run on a meaningless homer by Kuriyama, and the relief pitching of Hattori and Ohtani went 3 shutout frames.
Yes folks, that’s 18-1.
I’d be lying if I said it’s the most impressive game I’ve seen at QVC – it’s hard to imagine a better display than the 23-2 game against the Carp in 2009, but this one is just behind that one.
Actually the scoring in this game started fairly innocuously – bases loaded with no outs in the first, Imae sac fly. But after that it was a Kakunaka dribbler through the right side, a little flare that dropped in by Braz, an infield single by Daichi, and suddenly it was 4-0 Lotte after one.
Even the second inning runs were kind of typical – a gapper to left by Iguchi to score Okada, and a single by Kakunaka to score Iguchi. 6-0 after two, and we were having fun in the A-seats.
Now the third inning? That’s where it got GOOD. (Good is of course very context-sensitive, and nobody who likes Seibu even a tiny bit would call the third inning good.) Daichi mashed a one-out double off the right field wall, and after a walk to T OGINO and a single by Okada the bases were juiced for Nemoto. It’s a single – run in to make it 7-0 and bringing up Iguchi. Koishi is out, Oishi is in. Iguchi drills the second pitch he sees from Oishi really deep – a no doubt grand slam and a 11-0 Lotte lead! Wow!!
And we were not even close to done in the inning.
An Imae double, Kakunaka single, and Satozaki walk loaded the bases yet again for Daichi’s second trip to the plate in the inning. Our All-Star shortstop takes a 1-1 pitch and pops it to right – it looked nowhere near as well hit as the double earlier in the inning and quite honestly I thought it was inning over. I think Daichi did too – he watched it drift down the line while holding his bat and jogging slightly, but the ball kept going and going, eventually dropping just inside the foul pole, just over the fence for the second grand slam of the inning! 15-0! I can’t believe it, Daichi can’t believe it – he jogging around the bases with his arms kind of stretched out in disbelief, a visual representation of “What the hell??? YEAH!”.
GG Sato even got in the act against his old team in the 7th, smashing an RBI double and scoring a run off another Daichi RBI.
2-1, 18-1 – it always feels great to win against Seibu. The best part of it is while Our Marines have been winning – and this is the 12th win in the past 17 games – Rakuten have been losing, so the lead in the PL for the Eagles is just 2.5 games now. Next up – a three game set in Sendai, a true battle of first vs second.
In fact everything is setting up great for this weekend series – Nishino is back and is starting against the very scary Tanaka on Friday. Our three best pitchers right now are going this weekend – Nishino –> Furuya –> Greisinger. The usual fantastic bullpen combo of Uchi, Rosa, Matsunaga, and Masuda is well rested. I can’t wait for these games!