The only thing sweeter that a sweep is two sweeps in a row. And that’s exactly what Our Marines pulled off today on the last day of Golden Week in lovely Fukuoka – a 5-2 victory over Daiei for the sixth victory in a row and the second sweep. My only regret is I wasn’t there to see it.
Young Kazunari Abe got the call-up from ni-gun for the game and pitched 6 1/3 innings of 4 hit, no run ball (though with 5 walks) to get the win. This start was Abe’s 10th of his ichi-gun career and his first victory. He actually pitched pretty well in ichi-gun last year in a few appearances but couldn’t stick around the whole season. This start was not dominant at all, but who needs dominant when you don’t allow any runs?
Honestly Lotte could have put this game far out of reach early on. Lots of baserunners – 18 total – but 13 strikeouts including several in key chance situations let the Hawks hang around a bit longer than they should have. Much like Abe’s pitching, though – you don’t need to score bunches of runs, just more than your opponent, and the 5 posted by Our Marines was easily sufficient.
We got a run off emergency starter Morifuku in the second inning thanks to a clutch infield single (complete with headslide into first) by Nemoto. Iguchi added another with a solo shot in the 3rd, and Kakunaka plated Kawamoto in the 4th, though Nemoto was called out at home to end the inning. Kakunaka again delivered in the 8th with a timely single to center scoring Okada and making it 5-0. Okada actually reached base with what I would call an infield double. He bounced one just past pitcher Niho, and as first baseman LaHair went to cover the bag Niho couldn’t field it and the ball trickled all the way into right. I’m not sure I’ve seen a double quite like that before.
Matsunaga gave up a pair in the 8th but Masuda left no doubt as to the final score – as always! – with a perfect 9th.
With huge momentum on their side Our Marines come home to QVC for the final 5 games before the start of interleague next week. Up next is a two game set with equally hot Seibu, fresh off a series sweep of their own against the Fighters. Who is going to be leading the Pa-League at the break? We shall see.
Smoking: Credit to Abe for pitching a solid game and getting his first win, despite the 5 walks. No runs is no runs and a win is a win. Kakunaka continues to immolate opposing pitchers – 3 for 5 with a pair of RBI and a stolen base. Iguchi stays warm with a 2 for 5 performance including the solo shot. Masuda gets a super quick 6 pitch 9th for his 11th save.
Cold: Kiyota had a miserable day at the plate – only a weak ground out in his 5th at bat prevented him from the Platinum Sombrero (though he wrapped up the Golden Sombrero in the 7th). Saburo did nothing in the cleanup spot and is batting .213. Matsunaga gave up his first runs in over a month in the 8th.