Who said there are no championships to be had for Our Marines this season? Sure, we fans wanted to see the Pacific League and NPB championships most of all, but you know what? The NPB Farm Championship is right behind those.
The preaseason is over, the 2014 NPB regular season kicks off this Friday! Let’s take a look at the players who will be starting the season at ichi-gun for Our Marines. First, the pitchers.
I’m not going to lie to you – this team needs wins in the worst way right now. September is not exactly looking like July yet, but the 5-6 record so far this month is the second worst month for Our Marines this season. The team batting average so far this month is a limp .227, and the ERA has ballooned to 4.37. Not coincidentally, Nishino and Greisinger are out with arm injuries, and Naruse is still absent from the roster.
This team needs a boost, and needs it now.
As Steve mentioned at the conclusion of the Seibu series post, Our Marines are heading north to Sendai on Friday for a pivotal 3 game set between the top two teams in the PL. Thanks to Lotte’s 12-5 run, combined with a five game losing streak for Rakuten, we sit only 2.5 games back of the first place Eagles heading in. With our 3 most reliable pitchers slated to start this weekend, hopefully we can at least take 2 of 3 and win our 7th series in a row.
Things didn’t start pretty for Our Marines on Wednesday night. The first place Rakuten Eagles started the game by putting a crooked number 4 on the scoreboard in the first inning off starter Seth Greisinger. Seth managed to settle down though, going 5 innings while only giving up one additional run. This kept Chiba within striking distance, allowing for a comeback win in one of the most exciting game thus far in 2013. Veteran catcher Satozaki hit a sayonara solo home run in the 11th, giving Lotte a 6-5 11th inning walk off win!
Our Marines fell 5-3 to the Nippon-Ham Fighters in the rubber match of a 3 game set. As the line score shows, the teams combined for 8 runs in the first 3 innings, only to combined for 5 hits and 0 runs for the remaining 6 innings. Starting pitcher Fujioka lasted only 3 innings, shouldering responsibility for all 5 of the Fighters runs on the evening.
The DeNA (nee Yokohama) BayStars rolled in to QVC on a damp Wednesday evening fronted by their ace, Daisuke Miura. 9 innings later Our Marines had been completely shutdown as Miura and Co. emerged on top via a a 3-0 shutout. With the loss, Chiba has dropped 4 in a row and the lead in the Pacific League is down to 1.5 games.
It was rough afternoon for the Marines at Koshien Stadium, scoring only 3 runs on 15 hits while committing 2 errors. The season finale with the Tigers was punctuated by a Matt Murton sayonara homerun, as Hanshin walked off with a 4-3 win. Lotte hit into four double plays on the day, contributing to a total of ten men left on base. Starting pitcher Ohmine was pulled after three innings (0ER) for the second straight start, while the NPB save leader Masuda was charged with the blown save and the loss. The Marines finished the year winless against the Tigers at 0-3-1. Their lead in the Pacific League also falls to two games, and Lotte is now two games out of the inter-league title with only four games left to go.
Image: From marines.co.jp
With today’s win, Lotte now has the best record in the NPB, top position in the inter-league title race, and first place in the Central League.
For the second game in a row the Marines held off a late offensive attack by Yomiuri, defeating the Giants this afternoon by a score of 3-2. Imae continued to tear it up in the number four slot, golfing a two-run double to left in the 3rd inning. Our ace Naruse looked great early on, highlighting his performance by recording his 1,000th career strike out in the 3rd. Despite a scoreless 4 innings to start the game, Naruse departed clinging to a 3-2 lead with 1 out in the 7th. However, the bullpen shut the Giants down again for 2 2/3 innings, preserving the win for Naruse.