Our Marines have now faced all five of their Pacific League foes, coming out of the first stretch of the season at 8-5-1. Lotte has three series wins, one series tie, and one series loss in the first go around. That one and only series loss came at the claws of the Seibu Lions just …
If only that one ball didn’t take that awkward bounce. If only we could have turned just one LOB into an RBI. If only the outfield fence was just a few centimeters shorter. Unfortunately for Our Marines, it felt like Game 1 of the Climax Series Final Stage alone could have fulfilled a season’s quota of “if only”s.
Two weeks ago Our Marines looked to be dead in the water. Back-to-back losses with only 3 hits combined left the guys reeling at 6 games under – dropping out of 4th seemed more likely than seizing 3rd. 12 games later and Chiba’s racked up 10 wins and just two losses – by a combined 2 runs – and with two games remaining on the 2015 Regular Season calendar Lotte has booked a ticket to Sapporo and the first stage of the Climax Series.
What a truly an amazing turn of events!
Ah, the fun time of the year, right? We fans, resigned to our fate as a B Class team, get to enjoy the stress-free pleasures of meaningless September ball. But is it so stress-free when the team can’t seem to put any runs across the plate?
The goals for the remaining games are basically (a) get the younger players some more experience (b) play the spoiler. Wait, I forgot to list the most important goal! (c) BEAT SEIBU. Interestingly enough, we get 7 games in 10 days vs our Tokorozawa – this 3 game set at Seibu Dome and next week a 4 game tilt at QVC – and that’s it for the season. Seibu’s in just about as hopeless a position as is Chiba, so really we should look at this as a 7 game series to determine PL Kanto supremacy once and for all.
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.
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.
Suffice it to say that the previous series with Rakuten could not have gone any better for Lotte. Not only did the series sweep push the guys closer to Hamu in 3rd place, but the gap over Rakuten has widened so much that it’s unlikely they will escape the PL cellar this year, let alone challenge for a Climax Series spot. Schadenfreude? Sure. That’s how it goes.
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.