We just took a look yesterday at the pitchers for the 2014 version of Our Marines. The pitching situation is pretty straightforward with a lot of depth both in the rotation and in the pen. The situation for position players is a bit different, though, with lots more variables to consider.
Marines fans, you can see that sticky up above. Our Marines have made it to the postseason for the first time in three years. If you are new to being a Marines fan, it may be hard to get why this is such a big deal. Here’s why: In the last 39 years since the championship when the team was still the Lotte Orions and played in Sendai, this team has played postseason baseball just 4 times, this the first time since 2010. It’s huge.
There was a time tonight when I couldn’t take any more. The tension was too much. Our Marines, once holders of an early 4-0 in Sendai vs the PL champion Eagles (where have I heard that one before?) had coughed up the lead due mostly to some absolutely horrific defensive work and timely Rakuten hitting. But I gave the game one more chance, and the Boys from Makuhari gave themselves one more chance, ultimately coming from behind to gain a tough 7-6 victory.
Don’t try to tell me that tonight’s game was vs a Rakuten B-team. I don’t care and I won’t listen. They may not be playing for anything anymore but we sure are, and tonight Our Marines dished out a good ol’ ass whooping by the tune of 6-0 to our strong northern rivals. It was necessary and it was good.
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.
In a battle of number one starters, our ace Naruse was out-dueled by Atsushi Nohmi in a 3-1 win for the Hanshin Tigers over the Marines at Koshien Stadium. Naruse only gave up 2 earned runs in 7 innings, but it was not enough to best the Tigers ace. Nohmi hurled a rather efficient complete game 3-hitter, logging just 103 pitches. The Marines are now 0-2-1 versus the Tigers on the year.
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.
The Marines were able to contain a late game awakening by the Giants bats to preserve a win for starting pitcher Yuki Karakawa. With 4 runs coming in the form of a pair of 2-run home runs by Iguchi and Daichi Suzuki, the Marines defeated the Yomiuri Giants 4-3. The Marines and Giants went into the game tied with the best records in the NPB. Now, Lotte has sole possession of that honor. The win also guarantees at least a season split with Giants, as well as maintaining our position of 1/2 game out of the inter-league title and 3 games atop the Pacific League.
Our Marines gave another stunning ensemble pitching performance – for the second night in a row throwing a wet, lead-filled blanket on the Chunichi bats and cruising to a victory. This one featured no come-from-behind heroics, just runs when they were needed and pitching all night long. When the last out was recorded, it was a nice 3-1 Lotte victory and the 4th win in a row. Outstanding.
My favorite baseball memory took place in Nagoya Dome. With 2 outs in a tight game, an emerging young Lotte played lofted a ball deep into the gap in right center, driving in what would turn out to be the winning run. That was game 7 of the 2010 Nippon Series and the hero was of course Okada. 30 months later Daichi Suzuki launched a ball to much the same spot scoring two Men in Black and propelling Our Marines to a great come from behind 3-2 win over the Chunichi Dragons.