Friends, this was a hard-fought win. I said in yesterday’s writeup that this one was a must win, and win we did. It was classic playoff baseball – Our Marines needed some heroics to overcome the great pitching of Rakuten’s Norimoto and boy did we get it both from the mound and at the plate.
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.
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.
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!
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.
On Saturday the bullpen couldn’t back up Karakawa’s six and a third, one run performance. Little by little, the Nippon Ham Fighters picked away at Lotte’s 2-0 lead to win in sayonara fashion. The final score would read Fighters 3 – Marines 2 in 10x inning.
Was it indeed the best of times, the worst of times? Perhaps not, but Wednesday’s game and Thursday’s games at Seibu Dome were about as different as could be. In game one, great pitching by an ensemble of arms led to a solid 4-1 victory, but in game two anyone who stepped on the mound for Lotte got lit up as Our Marines lost 11-4.
April baseball is great, but cold at Chiba Marine Geez, QVC Marine Field*. It’s usually nice and windy, temps in the low teens or single digits, vendors selling shochu and hot water instead of cool, fruity Chu-Hi. It’s definitely more a time for the hardcore fan than the casual fan as even hardy members of …
It took seven games, and 12 innings in the seventh game to decide a winner – that winner, finally, decisively, is Our Marines. Can you believe it? This was just an amazing game (and I am not saying that just because of the result) – it was truly an epic way to end the series. …