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SoftBank @ Lotte, 18-20 April 2014

qvc_air The SoftBank Hawks come into town Friday for a three game weekend set. Our Marines have played .500 ball since being swept by SoftBank in the season opening series in Fukuoka. The Hawks continue to be strong, currently sitting atop the PL, like many experts predicted they would.

Projected game 1 & 3 starters, Naruse & Ishikawa respectively, inspire confidence that we can take this series. Although Naruse got off to a bit of a slow start, he looked great in his previous outing last Friday. The rookie Ishikawa has been our best starter so far this year, despite last Sunday’s loss. Game 2’s projected starter is a bit of a mystery though, as Karakawa has not looked great in his first three starts. We even saw him pitch in relief last Sunday, the day after getting shelled by the Eagles. We’ll see how Itoh-kantoku plays this one.

 

Game 1 - 2-2 Tie (Click to Expand)

SoftBank: Tadashi Settsu (2-1 3.38) @ Lotte: Yoshihisa Naruse (2-1 4.76)

By: Craig Roberts Our Marines and the SoftBank Hawks came to the first draw of the NPB season Friday night after three hours and forty-four minutes of baseball. The conditions were less than optimal throughout, as is often the case at Marine Field in April; it was damp, cold and windy. Visiting teams often struggle to adapt on nights like this, giving Our Marines a bit of a home field advantage. It was the other way around tonight though, with the Hawks gloves coming up with the tough grabs and the Lotte defenders failing to make the big plays. Despite the lopsided defensive showings, Naruse kept the pitching duel with Settsu close enough for Our Marines to score the tying runs in the 9th and send it into extras. We almost pulled it off in the 12th, but alas we ended in a tie.

After 11 1/2 innings in the cold, wind, and rain, the ouendan bounce up-and-down for one last chance.

After 11 1/2 innings in the cold, wind, and rain, the ouendan bounce up-and-down for one last chance.

Mother Nature set the tone early tonight. Straight away from the first pitch, rookie catcher Yoshida was charged with an error for misreading a pop foul that was ostensibly altered by the wind. He ran two-thirds of the way to the back stop, only to retreat back to the dirt around home plate. He came up a bit short on his dive, as the ball bounced foul near the batter’s box. It’d be that kind of night…

Innings 1-5:

As I mentioned in the opening, Naruse’s pitching was enough to keep the Hawks off the board for a good portion of the game. The Hawks failed to advance a runner past first base for the first five innings. Meanwhile, a two out double by Cruz and single by Saburo were not enough for Lotte to post a run in the 2nd. Ohmatsu was robbed of extra bases to lead off the 4th, on a great diving catch by SoftBank’s Nakamura in LF. So after five innings, we remained scoreless.

Innings 6-9:

The Hawks finally broke through with a two out rally in the 6th. It all started when an Uchikawa line drive proved too hot to handle for Iguchi at first. A walk to Lee Dae Ho and a wild pitch put runners on the corners for Hasegawa. A soft one hopper came off the bat of Hasegawa to the right of second base. Nemoto fielded the tough hop cleanly, but his across-the-body throw to first could not beat Hasegawa. 1-0 Hawks. The Hawks put up another run in the 7th, thanks to a 1-out double just out of the reach of Ohmatsu in LF, and a subsequent single to score the run. The inning, and Naruse’s night, ended on a double play with the Hawks leading 2-0. Masuda and Matsunaga pitched scoreless 8th and 9th innings to give Lotte a chance to tie it in the bottom of the 9th.

It was Iguchi in the 6th and Ohmatsu in the 7th that couldn’t make the tough plays to prevent the Hawks’ rallies from starting. It was also Iguchi and Ohmatsu who started the game tying Lotte rally in the 9th. They hit back-to-back doubles with one out, with Iguchi scoring the first run to make it 2-1. After a Kakunaka groundout and Cruz walk (which finally chased Settsu from the game), Ohmatsu came home on a Saburo clutch 2-out RBI single to RF off Igarashi to tie it at 2-2. With a two-on sayonara chance, Aja Inoue struck out pinch hitting for Kawamoto to send it to extras.

Innings 10-12:

Nishino worked around a lead off hit and a two out intentional pass to keep it tied in the top of the 10th. Okada hit a two out triple off Hideki Okajima to the right-center gap in the home half of the inning, followed by an Iguchi intentional pass. Next up, Ishimine (PR and defensive replacement for Ohmatsu) popped out to first to end the inning and sayonara chance.

In the top of the 11th, Carlos Rosa gave up a leadoff hit but nothing else to keep it knotted. Saburo drew a two out walk, and Satozaki was hit by a pitch, but Daichi flied out to right to end the bottom of the 11th. The Hawks went down 1-2-3 against Ueno in the top of the 12th, giving Our Marines a nothing-to-lose chance in the bottom of the 12th…

Hosoya worked a nine pitch AB to draw a walk leading off versus Dennis Sarfate. Okada came up next, and naturally the unthinkable happened. That was of course a pop up on a bunt attempt, and a sliding catch to grab it on the fly by the 3rd baseman Matsuda. Matsuda used his momentum and the wet turf to quickly hop up to one foot and make a throw to first to just beat Hosoya diving back to the bag. 2 out.

Iguchi apparently took out his anger on a pitch in the next AB, hitting the ball so hard to short that the SS Imamiya kick-saved the ball all the way to the seats left of third base. Iguchi safe at second. Still a chance. Ishimine lined an 0-2 pitch to right, but unfortunately directly at the shallowly positioned right fielder. A couple stutter steps and a lift of the glove sealed both teams’ fates in baseball purgatory. Game over. 2-2 tie.

BOX SCORE FROM NPB ENGLISH

Game 2 - Lotte Loses 6-1 (Click to Expand)
SoftBank: Kenichi Nakaka (3-0 2.37) @ Lotte: Yuki Karakwa (0-2 8.22)

By: Craig Roberts For the fifth time out of five tries this year, Our Marines remain winless against the Hawks. How we arrived at the result is pretty simple. We were out hit, outran, and out pitched. The Hawks had 13 hits to our 4. Our lone run came on a sacrifice fly, whereas the SoftBank lineup produced 3 home runs. Both starters lasted 8 innings, but that’s basically where the similarities in the pitching lines end. SoftBank also swiped 3 bases in 4 attempts off the rookie catcher Yoshida.

Had to post a picture from today. So why not this?

Had to post a picture from today. So why not this?

There’s not much more to add than that. We had total of 4 base runners for the first seven innings, with none of those innings having multiple runners. There was one extra base hit, a double to lead off the 5th by Saburo. Hosoya followed with a bunt on a 2-0 count, and a Yoshida sac fly brought the runner home to cut the SoftBank lead to 2-1. Lotte did have separate two-on no-out chances in the 8th (two walks) and 9th (a walk and a hit), but could not cut into the 5 run SoftBank lead in either try.

The home run ball killed Karakawa today, as he gave up 3 long balls on the day. The first was a two run shot in the 4th by Uchikawa, next a solo blast by Uchikawa in the 6th, and last another solo homerun this time off the bat of Matsuda in the 8th. Despite starting the 8th at 93 pitches in a 4-1 game, Karakawa was left in for the duration of a 25 pitch, 3 hit (1 HR), 1 walk, 2 run inning. He finished with 118 pitches, 13 hits, 5 K’s, 2 walks, 1 hit batter, and 6 earned runs. Minami pitched the ninth, so that happened. Not much else to say here folks. Cruz almost made two ridiculously good defensive plays. That’s something, I think.

Game 3 - Lotte WINS 4-0 (Click to Expand)
SoftBank: Brian Wolfe (1-0 1.71) @ Lotte: Ayumu Ishikawa (1-1 1.66)

By Steve Novosel At the end of last season, 'Sunday Shingo' Ono retired. Now we might have a replacement for him as 'Sunday Ayumu' Ishikawa pitched yet another great game, as Our Marines broke through for the first time this year against the Daiei Hawks. The 4-0 shutout is not just the first win in 6 tries vs the Hawks but the first shutout of the year.

Patlabor Let’s talk a bit about Ishikawa first. So far in 4 starts of his career, he’s had 3 Quality Starts (defined as 6 IP or more, 3 ER or less), missing the 4th by only one out in his first game. In this game, Ishikawa was a little bit walk-y – 4 in 8 innings – but not so much as to get into any real trouble. And what’s better is that even though he wasn’t quite as sharp as the complete game masterpiece he threw two weeks ago, he limited the Hawks to just 4 hits and no real scoring chances. It must be noted as well that Daiei is a much, much better scoring team than is Hamu (who was the opponent for the the first CG).

Ishikawa finished the day with 114 pitches of 4 hit, no run ball. I thought he might come back out for the 9th as he threw 130 in his earlier CG, but considering the last out of the 8th was a big fly ball to the fence off of the bat of Lee Dae Ho, perhaps it was time to give him a rest.

Lotte Scoring

This game was Daiei’s chance to be sloppy, and we Fans of Lotte were much appreciative of that sloppiness. In the second inning, Kakunaka flared a ball to shallow left. Everybody went after it – everybody – but nobody could come up with it so the ever-hustling Kakunaka ended up with a double that was practically an infield double. That brought up Luis Cruz, who smashed one to third, right through Matsuda’s legs. An unearned run for sure, but that made it a 1-0 Lotte lead.

Fourth inning – Kakunaka blasts a 3-1 offering from Hawks starter Brian Wolfe over the right field fence for his first dinger of the year, and a 2-0 Lotte lead.

Fifth inning – speedy Ishimine leads off with a triple to right, and Nemoto brings him in immediately with a double to left to run the score to 3-0 Chiba. Ohmatsu singled to right to bring up Kakunaka again, and of course Kakunaka delivered again – a single, and a 4-0 Lotte edge.

With Ishikawa’s pitching, that was plenty of runs. Nishino finished up the game with a very strong 9th inning (weak pop up, 2 swinging Ks) in a non-save situation.

Up next is a 2-game set with Orix at QVC.

Comments 1

  1. Such an optimistic post! (sarcasm off)

    Quite honestly, this team is not going to start winning consistently until there’s a consistent lineup fielded. Outside of Imae, there are no injuries yet everyday the lineup shifts.

    It’s a long season; it’s high time to manage the team like this is a long haul and not a series of 144 unrelated games.

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