Here in NPB we’ve already finished our Spring Camps, and we’re over halfway through the open-sen (preseason) campaign. The “tons of changes” that were promised after last year’s highly disappointing finish didn’t really materialize this offseason, with the only really headline-grabbing change being the (as expected) departure of long-time ace Yoshihisa Naruse for the yogurt peddlers at Jingu.
There’s just nine games left to go, all of which are at home, with the last full three game weekend set starting tonight. It’s still a tight race for the bottom three spots in the PL, with Rakuten and Seibu tied for forth, and Our Marines a half game back. If for some strange reason you’re curious, the puts of nine games back of third. So technically we are not eliminated from the post-season just yet, but the magic number is three.
Our Marines might be out of contention, but all kidding aside, it’s been an entertaining September. Take away the three shutout losses and 29 inning scoreless steak – which in it of itself became compelling – and Our Marines are 5-1. Playing spoiler to the Hawks’ first place run this holiday weekend could add some more September gratification.
It’ll be interesting to see what surprises us await us in the last month of the season. For starters, let’s see if we can take something positive from this weekend’s home series versus the last place Eagles.
Want some good news? Sure it’s thin on the ground here, but our lovely rookie Ishikawa (arguably the best pitcher on the team this year, and undoubtedly the best among the starters) is back and starting game 1. The next three games are against the Fighters, sitting in third. The math is very poor indeed, though, and Chiba really, really, really needs a sweep of this three game set in Tokyo Dome to even begin to think about making a run at A-Class.
That glimmer of hope we all had after the 5 game win streak has summarily been smashed against the cold, unyielding truth of reality. Chiba has lost 8 in a row to the Fighters, a team which (if I try to think objectively) just should not be as good as our guys. Not now. But unfortunately the results on the field are saying otherwise, and the 2.5 game deficit that seemed so promising just 4 days ago is now a bleak 5.5 game pit.
There’s really no other way to put it. This week’s sweep at the hands of the Fighters basically ended our chances for a late summer post-season run. Sure, crazier things have happened than a 7 game comeback with 51 games to go. For all intents and purposes though, we’re probably finished. I’m ok with that. Overall, I’m satisfied with the effort and fight put forth from our guys.
So our last 9 games? LWLWLWLWL. Yep, that’s alternating wins and losses. This of course gets us to where we are now. 11-11 in interleague with two makeup games left. Hopefully we can finish interleague the way we started it with a sweep of the Swallows.
Well, this should have been interleague series number eight. Friday and Saturday’s games got rained out though, so we’ll be making our annual trip to Jingu at the end of the interleague calendar. Unlike the Swallows, the other Tokyo club happens to have a roof over their stadium. That means Our Marines will definitely be playing baseball for the first time in four days Sunday afternoon against Yomiuri.
Interleague play started well for us and hopefully that continues against the Giants. We’re 2-0 against Tokyo teams and have a chance to make it 4-0 on Friday and Saturday. We’re riding a three game winning streak, and it seems that MAYBE things are starting to come together for Our Marines. Perhaps the everyday lineup is beginning to take shape. With the recent heroics of Ogino and Katoh, we may actually be on a path to achieving the balance of old and new that we hoped for at the beginning of the year. Cautious optimism abound.