We now have all the information we need. There’s nothing anyone else can do; it’s all up to Our Marines to get it done.
On Tuesday, Nippon Ham won their season finale, forcing Lotte to win their last three games to get into the postseason. Fortunately, the last game versus Rakuten for 2010 went well, and Lotte beat out a 7-2 victory.
The Marines put up the first runs of the game right off the bat – the bat of Saburo, to be specific. Kim Tae Kyun was moved to the 7 spot and Saburo into the cleanup spot – immediately, he delivered a 2 run blast to left center off of Rakuten starter Kawai. In the second, Lotte tacked on another pair thanks to a 2-run double by Mr Modasho, Tsuyoshi. He went 2-3 on the game to raise his season total to 203.
Lotte starter Bill Murphy had a bit of a rough go of it, giving up 8 walks in 4 2/3 innings. Rakuten only scored two off of him so it wasn’t all bad, but Nishimura-kantoku pulled him for Uchi in the 5th.
Uchi – my favorite reliever. I always say I like him irrationally but the more I think about it it’s not so irrational. He’s had some spotty games this year (two very bad appearances in July account for most of his high ERA) but over the last two years he’s pitched well in key situations. Tonight was no exception – needing some great work, Lotte got 2 1/3 innings of perfect pitching from young Uchi. I don’t know why Uchi isn’t used more – other than ERA his stats are quite similar to Itoh, who has some 70 appearances this year. Anyway.
The Marines put the game away in the 7th with a deep double by Iguchi that scored Tsuyoshi (120 runs scored on the year!) and a big 2-run line drive HR by Imae (in the 5th spot). That made it 7-2, and that’s how it finished!
So two games left versus Orix – tonight Yoshimi gets the nod (Ohmine was called up this weekend, I am not sure why he isn’t getting the start). Two more wins and Lotte is on to Seibu Dome!
As an aside, since it was the last game between the two teams there is a tradition of the opposing fan clubs singing each other’s ouenka. That hasn’t happened yet this year, but Rakuten got it started with a nice “Good luck Lotte, go to climax!” chant followed with a nice “Chiba Marine ni Tsudou Warera” (which I have on You Tube, must dig up link) complete with flag waving. The Lotte Ouendan delivered the Rakuten fight song as a response. There weren’t any other songs exchanged, but at least those were nice.