Note: This is posted late because I am lazy as hell. It happens.
Forget all that stuff that happened on Friday – we are all about good news at We Love Marines, and we want to celebrate the great weekend Our Marines put together! On Saturday, Lotte got a sayonara single from Saburo in the bottom of the 9th to walk away with a 3-2 victory. And on Sunday, Lotte bats beat the heck out of Softbank arms to the tune of 11 runs on 17 hits, cruising to a 11-3 win. This makes Our Marines the first Pacific League team to 40 wins!
Yuji Nishino got the start on Saturday vs former MLB’er Vicente Padilla. It’s impossible to deny that Nishino has been the best Lotte pitcher all year – he’s among the league leaders in ERA, wins, WHIP, K/9 – almost every statistical category. On this day Nishino was not sharp at all to start the day, but the damage didn’t extend to the scoreboard.
Padilla was similarly shaky, requiring 68 pitches to get out of the first two innings though the Chiba bats could hardly take advantage of opportunities. Our Marines did score first, in the first inning. T OGINO, newly installed as the leadoff batter, lead off in perfect style with a single. With one out, Iguchi took a hard pitch off his elbow protector and got a free pass to first (Iguchi would leave the game after the inning but was back in the lineup on Sunday). In the 4 spot Imae hit a single to right, and with the ultra-fast T OGINO on the basepaths he was coming home for sure. No throw home, even – a quick 1-0 Lotte lead.
As I mentioned, Nishino didn’t have his best stuff, and that put him in some very tight spots early on as the Daiei bats at the top of the lineup were consistently able to get on base. The 2-6 batter each had two hits (and Honda had 3), most of them in the first 4 innings. Nishino escaped without giving up a run in the first two frames but in the 3rd his fortunes would change. With two outs, speedster Honda poked a single to center. Nishino worked him hard to keep him at first, but Emura misgloved a pitch and let it drop to his feet right in front of him. Emura seemed to forget there was a runner on base, and Honda easily got into second as Emura was distracted. Itoh-kantoku looked ready to kill, he can put up with many faults but not from a catcher. And soon after, timely double by Uchikawa and a 1-1 tie game.
Emura more than made up for this mistake, though. Matsuda, the next batter, singled to left in front of T OGINO. Uchikawa was coming home. Ogino scooped, fired a bullet to Emura who blocked the plate brilliantly and allowed Uchikawa no chance at all to score.
In the 4th, Daiei put the first two runners on the corners. Nishino was in trouble again. He struck out La Hair looking for out 1, and Akiyama-kantoku pulled out the small ball handbook with Imamiya at the plate. Imamiya dropped a bunt – squeeze! Nishino charged, gloved it, and flipped it with the glove to Emura who was like a mountain of lead in the basepath. O. U. T., and tie game saved.
Pitching Duel, And DRAMA
Both Padilla and Nishino settled down very well at this point – Padilla getting out 14 Men of Lotte in a row before getting pulled due to high pitch count after 6. Nishino stayed in much longer, getting 10 in a row of his own out and staying in through the 8th. With the game still tied and the pens in action, both teams needed to get some offense started.
Lotte got it started first. Falkenbourg in for the Kyushu Birds, and he didn’t look good at all. He issued a leadoff walk to ageless Fukuura, who was pulled for youthful and speedy Ishimine. Two outs were recorded. Daichi at the plate – single! Kakunaka up with a big chance – Nishino is in the dugout, his arm iced, hoping for a big hit and getting a big hit! It’s a double, Ishimine in easily, and Lotte now with a 2-1 lead!
Masuda in to close it out. Matsuda up first – he grounds a ball to Nemoto deep between first and second. Nemo gets to it and fires to first, but in a bang-bang call Matsuda is ruled safe. Hmm. Hasegawa up – he grounds a ball right at Imae! Double play ball… that Imae drops, picks up, and fires into right. YIKES. Nobody out, big trouble on the sacs, and Egawa is singling in the tying run. Nay. No win for Nishino, and a very, very hard luck blown save for Masuda. He buckled down and got out of the inning without further damage, though.
So bottom of the 9th – young fireballing sensation Senga in. First up is Okada – and look at that, he’s beating out and infield single, his third infield single of the day (though he should have been out on the second one). T OGINO, ahem, strikes out but Nemoto singles to send Okada to third – only one out! It’s up to SABURO. .114 BA with RISP Saburo. Err. But Saburo? No, he’s not worried about the past, only that moment – first pitch, single to right, little smile, fist pump, sayonara 3-2 victory! GREAT stuff!
Nishino’s final line – 8 IP, 9 H, 5 Ks, 1 BB and just the one early earned run. Masuda gets the win in relief, and Saburo has to be the hero.
This game was nothing at all like Saturday’s game, but it was definitely a hell of a lot of fun for us Lotte fans.
Ohmine got the start – his first in two weeks since the catastrophe vs Chunichi. In the other dugout was ex-Seibu pitcher Hoashi. You’d think based on recent results – Hoashi undefeated in Interleague play, Ohmine unable to make it into the 4th inning since May – that one would have the upper hand, but if you did think that way you probably got it backwards. Ohmine got in a bit of early trouble but pitched through it, and Hoashi got absolutely bombed and couldn’t even record and out in the second. You got it, Our Marines closed out the series by trouncing Daiei 11-3.
The Hawks got on the board first thanks to a bonehead play that made all the highlight reels. Ohmine gave up two hits in the first, and with two outs Hasegawa hit a grounder to Daichi, who flipped to Nemoto to record out three. Except Nemoto wasn’t covering second at all! Nemoto catches the flip and fires to first, but Hasegawa is very safe and a run is in. I don’t know who would be to blame on that one – seems like you could divvy it up evenly between the two.
The Funny Thing Is
Those two decided to pretty much destructify Hoashi and the Daiei staff all by themselves. In the second inning everyone got in on the action – Our Marines rang up six runs on seven hits and a walk before the Hawks could even record an out. By that time, Hoashi was long gone. Daichi did the most damage in the inning as he got to bat twice and recorded RBI singles both times. Nemoto delivered a 2-run single on his own, Emura also ripped a 2-run single and T OGINO got yet another RBI on an infield single. All in all, a 7 run inning, and a 7-1 Lotte lead!
Nemoto enjoyed that so much he decided to have some more fun – a 2-run shot to deep right center made it 9-1 Lotte. Our Marines added another after Emura grounded into a double play with the bases loaded and no outs to make it 10-1.
Ohmine wasn’t fantastic, much like Nishino on Saturday, but he was good enough to stay in through the 6th. He gave up a meaningless 2-run homer to Egawa after the game was over – final line, 6+ IP, 9 H, 4 K, 1 BB, 3 ER (though the first one shouldn’t have been earned in a just world). Not bad at all.
Chiba added another one late as Daichi smashed a double that scored Kiyota from first and gave us the final score of 11-3 Lotte. Ohmine, Emura, and Daichi (4-5 with 3 RBI) were the heroes, but you could have thrown Nemoto up on the podium as well.
These two games were awesome to watch after the Friday debacle, and a good way to finish up June. Despite a few bumps in the road Lotte finished June with a 10-9 record and remain on top of the PL.