Happy 2014 from We Love Marines! Now that the 2013 season is officially in the books with Rakuten as champs and Our Marines in a strong second place1, it’s time to review some of the players and moments that made this season so memorable.
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.
Did I say we were 5-8, and the last series was a “must win”? Oh, I did, and we didn’t, and that 5-6 is now 5-8. Daiei, once 3.5 back, took the lead for second place before dropping back on percentage points on Thursday. Rakuten and first place are just a mirage in the distance – we’ve got 15 games of hard battle to fight to wrap up second. The first three are this weekend.
Series Preview: After dropping two of three at home and further back of first place Rakuten, it appears Our Marines will be playing for second place down the stretch. Lotte leads SoftBank by two games for the second slot (and home position in Climax Stage 1) with 19 games to go, three of which are next weekend at home against those very Hawks. Meanwhile, the Lions are clawing and the Fighters are, well…fighting to get back in the race for the top three spots, 3.5 and 4.5 games back of SoftBank respectively. Excluding a make up game in late September, this series is our last scheduled trip to Saitama in 2013. Hopefully, we can knock the Lions further out of contention as a parting gift.
This weekend, the Seibu Lions come to town for a rather meaningful three game September set. The pesky Lions are fighting to break through into the third Climax Series spot, but currently sit 2.5 back of SoftBank for that final postseason position. Meanwhile, Our Marines are looking to potentially jockey for one last run at first place – currently 5 games back of Rakuten. At a minimum this weekend, it would behoove us to stake a more comfortable claim to the second place spot (2.5 up on SB) and perhaps knock Seibu further out of contention. The Pacific League standings have certainly began to take a more clear shape as of late, but all it takes is one weekend to turn it all on its head…
It’s Legends Series time, and who doesn’t love an excuse to break out the throwback uniforms? Honestly these old unis – they’re the old road blues from the Orions days – are my favorite Lotte uniform. Love the blue with the red accent, and I wish we played in the Orions-era uniforms (both road and home) more often.
The last series of the nine game homestand got started on Tuesday as Our Marines faced off against the hated Lions of Seibu, with Greisinger on the hill vs former ace Wakui. On this night, Greisinger was the one to look like a former Sawamura award winner and Wakui, well, didn’t, as Chiba shut out Seibu for a 4-0 victory.
For the 5th time in the month of August, Our Marines have won a series, this time vs Orix. That’s every series so far this month, for those of you counting at home. In Game 1, the team won 5-2 behind the start of Karakawa and timely hits from Imae, Kakunaka, and Braz. In Game 3, New Lefty Ace Furuya + a strong pen combined with a pair of timely hits from birthday boy Daichi for a 3-1 win. Overall, Lotte won 2 of 3 and has now moved to within 4.5 games of Rakuten and sits 2.5 games up on third place Softbank.
Less than two months ago, an unexpected start by Takuya Furuya resulted in a no-no near miss. Since then, Furuya has been a fixture in the rotation, easily the best pitcher for Our Marines since the resumption of Pacific League play. Tonight, Furuya pitched another gem vs PL leaders Tohoku Rakuten – 7 innings and 8 strikeouts – and the bullpen took it to the finish for a stirring 3-0 Lotte victory.
For the 4th series in a row, Our Marines came into the the 3rd game of the series with a chance to take it. And has been the case for every series so far in August, the Men of Chiba did just that, putting together timely hitting and impressive pitching from a whole host of players to take the finale from Nippon Ham 5-1.