Our Marines have reached the end of the season: Thursday’s 6-1 loss at Fukuoka means that if Chiba is to play on we must win 4 in a row.
But, not so easy. Remember back to 2010 and this team was in a similarly precarious position. Down 3-1, needing to win out to advance, having far from the best starters available for the first two games (Shunsuke and Yuta, actually), the guys took those first two close games before Naruse shut down the Hawks to advance.
In some ways what faces Lotte is a bit simpler – yes, it’s 4 in a row instead of 3 in a row, but the next three starting pitchers are sure to be Ishikawa, Chen, and Wakui. That’s really good! All bats are available. The small visitor section is still mighty in voice, easily louder than the rest of the stadium combined. We can do this!
We’re at roughly the third-of-the-way point of the 2015 Chiba Lotte Marines Golden Year presented by Steve and Craig at We Love Marines (dot) Com campaign and I gotta say that… yeah, the 21-23 record is a wee bit disappointing. With a win on Sunday at Orix we Fans of Lotte could have said, “Hey, at least we’re at .500”, but instead I’m just going to say “Hey, at least we ain’t Orix.” With that in mind, I want to focus a bit on the things I like so far this year.
It’s actually quite simple – don’t worry about Hamu. Lotte’s just gotta win some games. There’s 30 games left for Our Marines, 33 for the Fighters. Assuming no ties, that means if Hamu maintains its season winning percentage of .509, Chiba’s gotta go 22-8 in these last 30 games to overcome. Can it be done? Sure, why not? 7 of the remaining are vs those same Fighters (all in Kanto), and 13 of the remaining are vs the nothing-to-play-for Lions and Eagles. Why not win a whole lot of those games?
I know I’ve written off the team on two separate occasions in just the last three weeks. We’re fans, that what we do. We’re still mathematically alive though, and this coming two week stretch is likely going to be the true determining period for Our Marines. The next two weeks features a home-and-home with the 2nd place Buffaloes, a home set with the 1st place Hawks in between, and then we end the month with a 3-game Tokyo Dome series versus the 3rd place Fighters.
Our Marines and the Fighters of Nippon Ham meet again. It’s been two weeks since the Makuhari Massacre, when Hamu swept us out of the building and seemingly out of contention. We came into the series 4 games back, and ended up 7 back. A day later, we were 8 back of the Fighters for the final post season spot.
Break open your ledger and put Rival Series Part 1 in the books with an emphatic WIN for Our Marines. After weeks of futility, that’s 2 series wins in the last 3, and of course the one that Chiba lost could easily have swung the other way. I must say, cautiously, that things are looking up.
Despite the series loss, there’s a lot positive to take away from the Rakuten series. The team has put up 3 or more runs for 7 straight games including the pair of 7 run showings in the first two games. Katoh has been crazy good at the plate ever since being called back up, and some of the pitching was quite solid.
The last series started with a no-hitter and ended in a true heartbreaker. After a nice winning streak for Our Marines, the ship has started to list a bit, with 3 losses in the last 4 games.
So it’s on to Osaka and Orix, and time to face the best pitching team in Japan. Orix has had its issues as well as of late, just getting swept by Hamu.
Golden Week has arrived, and Our Marines sport a .500 record for the first time this year. Fresh off a series sweep in Sapporo, our Marines head south for a three game set in Sendai. We’ve now won 4 straight, while Rakuten comes home after being swept on the road at Orix. Let’s hope these trends continue.
Going 1-1-1 vs Daiei over the weekend is a damn sight better than the first series of the season, but it’s hardly ideal. Small steps. Now it’s Orix’s turn to come to frigid QVC, this time for a 2 game set.
Wakui gets the nod in game 1, fresh off his nice work in Omiya last week. It’ll be Furuya and Igawa in game 2.