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Wins Needed Now – Orix Series: 17-18 Sep 2013

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Series Preview: I’m not going to lie to you – this team needs wins in the worst way right now. September is not exactly looking like July yet, but the 5-6 record so far this month is the second worst month for Our Marines this season. The team batting average so far this month is a limp .227, and the ERA has ballooned to 4.37. Not coincidentally, Nishino and Greisinger are out with arm injuries, and Naruse is still absent from the roster.

This team needs a boost, and needs it now. There’s just 17 games left in the season and Daiei has crept to within 0.5 games of Chiba in the race for second.

 


 

Game 1 (17 Sep) - Lotte Loses 10-4

Orix: Chihiro Kaneko 11-8, 2.09 ERA @ Lotte: Yuki Karakawa 9-9, 3.98 ERA

By Steve Novosel Baseball is a cruel, cruel game sometimes, and for Our Marines Tuesday night's game was just one of those times. The Baby-Faced Killer took the hill vs Orix ace Kaneko at QVC, and instead of the great pitching duel we hoped for young Karakawa was victimized by bad calls, bad defense, and frankly baffling management decisions as Lotte got murdered 10-4.

Mr YukIn fact, Karakawa himself took almost all of those 10 runs on his ledger – 4 IP, 13 hits, 9 ER, 120 pitches. This is completely inexplicable to me. This is We LOVE Marines, and of course it’s also We LOVE The Baby-Faced Killer, but for the life of me I cannot understand what compelled Itoh-kantoku to leave Yuki out there for so long. Did he write the game off and wanted to save the pen? Punishment? I have no hypothesis, I can only shake my head.

To be honest, the outcome in a parallel universe could have been much different for Karakawa. In the first inning, Orix’s Adachi drew a walk and with two outs swiped second. I was in the ticket line at the time and watching the game on TV, and from the replay of this steal it seemed pretty clear that the ball arrived to the bag in time to get Adachi. Nemoto thought so, too, but the umpire disagreed. If that’s an out, that’s the end of the first, but instead Lee Dae Ho singled to score Adachi and the rout was on. 4 runs in the inning for Orix, Chiba down 4-0 before even coming to bat.

In the second – something even more inexplicable: Okada misplayed a ball in center. A run would have scored via sac fly, but instead it was a 2-run double for… Yeah, Lee Dae Ho1. That’s right, instead of a 1-0 game at this point it was 6-0 – Karakawa gave up 6 runs on 8 hits through 2.

1 Man, how I would LOVE to have that guy on my team. Hits for average and power and plays a nice first base. He’s a free agent, and there’s the natural Lotte-Korea connection, so maybe?

Karakawa was at 80 pitches to start the 4th, and clearly he had little left in the tank. Orix batters recorded 4 more hits and a walk off Yuki in that inning – that’s 4 more runs, putting Chiba down 10-0 after 3.5 innings. I need to emphasize this again – I cannot come up with any reason to keep him in that long, to allow him to give up that much, to put the team that deep in a hole. Ohtani took over in the 5th and went the rest of the way – a very nice bit of work in relief, to be honest. 5 IP, 4 hits, 4 Ks, no runs. Were it that his starts were more like that stat line…

It’s not very often that a team will come back from 10 runs down, and sure enough, Chiba did not. But in the last thee frames, mostly after Kaneko had left the game, the bats did score a few to make the final a bit more respectable. I was in the infield unreserved seats, and there happened to be a few cheering friends sitting nearby. So when Lotte started to get some men on base and in scoring position, we cheered very loudly. In the 9th, with Our Marines trying to claw back in it, we had a good 20 people standing in a group and cheering loudly before the Fun Police2 came to break it up.

2 It didn’t use to be that the QVC security staff was so quick to break up celebrations in the infield seats, but they’ve really been after it all year. I’m not sure why a group of people standing and singing (not blocking anyone’s view, either) is now a crime, but apparently it is.

Nemoto, Iguchi, Imae (3-4 in his first game back), and Kakunaka all recorded hits against Orix reliever Toda in the bottom of the 9th to make it a 10-4 game and give us fans a little sliver of hope, but Our Marines couldn’t score anymore, so 10-4 was the final.

The Hawks lost so we still have a 0.5 game lead for second, but Seibu is creeping up, just 4 out of third and 4.5 out of second. 16 games to go, it’s going to be interesting!

 

Game 2 (18 Sep) - Lotte Loses 7-6

Orix: Yuji Maeda 2-3, 1.94 ERA @ Lotte: Takahiro Fujioka 5-8, 4.01 ERA

By Steve Novosel With no outs in the bottom of the first inning, sacks stuffed with Men of Lotte, Imae stepped to the plate and belted a cutter hung over the middle of the plate deep into the left field stands for a super duper quick 4-0 Lotte lead. I said to myself, 'Self, it simply doesn't get any better than this.'

I was oh too right - the bullpen imploded and Our Marines dropped a heartbreaker to Orix, 7-6.

I actually took this with my camera, handheld, on Wednesday night.  I like it.

I actually took this with my camera, handheld, on Wednesday night. I like it.

Fujioka-kun gave us a very Fujioka start, showing why he was arguably the most coveted pitcher in the 2011 draft and why he has spent most of this season coming out of the pen. On one hand, his stuff was great – 7 Ks in 5 innings of work, real bite in his pitches, fire in his demeanor. But on the other hand – 5 innings. It took Fujioka 47 pitches to get through the first two innings despite not allowing a hit and only a pair of walks. He came into the 5th inning already at 90+ pitches thanks to going deep into counts with pretty much every batter. Orix scored two runs off of him on a timely single by Itoi in the third and a two-out homer by Adachi in the 5th. It was certainly a respectable outing and more than enough to give him another look as a starter soon (especially given the utter lack of depth in the rotation right now.) It would just be nice if that 5 IP were a 7 IP.

Fujioka was not the problem with this game, though. Nope, that was the pen, and the 6th inning walkapalooza. Nakagoh took over for Fujioka and was not at all effective – a single, an unlucky infield single, and a walk loaded the bases with one out. Out went Nakagoh, in came Nin Nin – who’s ERA has gone from sub-1.00 in late June to over 3.50 now. And right after coming in, Hattori gave up a single to Hirano to score a run, a bases-loaded walk to Adachi to tie it, then another to Lee Dae Ho to push Orix into the lead. Out went Hattori, in came Ueno, and immediately his old teammate (La La La La) Takehara singled in a pair. Yup, from a 4-2 lead to a 7-4 deficit just like that.

I can use some simple metrics to tell you just how excruciating that inning was for Fans of Lotte – 3 outs, 45m. 45m! Who ever heard of a 45m half inning?

Ueno, Ledezma, and Carlos Rosa were fine the rest of the way but the damage was done. Our Marines would claw back a run in the bottom of the 6th with a solo shot by the inimitable Kakunaka, and one more in the 9th via BRAZ double and Daichi timely. That made it 7-6, but there was no more gas in the tank, and Hirano closed it out.

In the preview two days ago I said “this team needs wins in the worst way right now” and we got bupkis. Not surprisingly, Daiei got more than bupkis and now has a 0.5 game lead on Chiba. That’s not good. But that just makes the upcoming 3-game weekend series vs the Hawks that much more interesting, right?

 
Series Post-Script: There was a very large group of foreign fans in the outfield for Wednesday’s game, and it looked like they had a great time. If you read this, you were on TV whole bunch, especially in the late innings. Give us a shout and tell us how you enjoyed the game!
 

Comments 4

  1. Those games….. at least Ohtani held his own and the those last few innings added a little more fun to the night. The Wednesday game was so stressful to watch. First I was happy to see a grand slam on my birthday, but angry they couldn’t pull something like that when I was around. Then I was way more annoyed that we actually blew that game. T__T It reminded me of the game where GG got his grand slam. I hope they can get things back together this weekend, there’s too much at stake right now.

    And they really did that? Shouldn’t they be HAPPY to have excited fans sticking around in a game like that? I was told next year gaiya will be assigned seating for all weekend games. It feels like they’re trying to push all the regulars out. πŸ™

    1. Oh, I had a blast on Tuesday. That’s one “nice” thing about a big blow-out – you don’t expect much so you can relax and chat, and the runs we got at the end were just a big bonus.

      Based on circumstantial evidence I think we shouldn’t get any more first inning grand slams! The GG game was bad enough but that was on the road – doing it again at home vs a team with nothing to play for is pretty inexcusable. And we’ve lost FOUR IN A ROW to that team with nothing to play for. Yikes.

      Yeah, they really did that. It was one guy from the Fun Police walking around telling people to sit down. This in a game where we were down by 9 in the 9th and the stadium was maybe 1/10 full. I used to have a ton of stadium connections but no more – so I am not sure who to complain to.

      Making everything reserved on weekends isn’t the worst thing – right now you have to show up 4 hours ahead of time to get anything approaching a decent seat – but they should leave 2 or 3 sections completely unreserved a la Yokohama for the regular groups. I wonder how that will affect those with a gaiya passport?

      1. Man, I bet it’s just one guy who’s taking his job way too seriously. Or he was an Orix fan…

        I do think it would be good for new people who want to visit a game but could be intimidated by the free seating. (I know I was the first few times!) And I heard that regulars could probably get their seats all together somehow… that or my friends will probably stop buying season tickets and buy them in bulk. I’d still like to see the tradition exist at least for weekdays though. I know a lot of people like to use γ‚·γƒΌγƒˆθ²Όγ‚Š as a chance to socialize on days when we’re not playing at home.

        1. I really hope it’s just one guy taking it too seriously, though the the ticket taker types as well have gotten pretty rule-y over the last couple of years, too. It used to be that nobody asked for a ticket when coming back from the bathroom or baiten but now they do it every time, even when they recognize me. They’re not super duper strict like the guardians of the gaiya are, but still, kind of odd.

          The problem with the free seating is the abuse of it now. I think it probably overall causes an attendance decrease – a lot of people want to sit in unreserved seats but don’t want to fight for one. A lot of people who don’t mind lining up 2 hrs before opening also like to reserve 10, 15, 20 seats at a time, so there’s nowhere to sit except undesirable seats if you show up “only” 1 hour ahead of time. I love the gaiya, but I refuse to sit there on the weekends at QVC for this reason – too much hassle to actually find someone you know to sit with. Easier to just get an A seat or a naiya seat (which is exactly what I am doing this weekend for this reason) The current outfield reserved seats are pretty undesirable, IMO.

          It definitely should be mostly if not totally unreserved on weekdays – and if they make a reserved section they need to put it somewhere other than up against the fence. Lower the fence while they’re at it – but that’s the subject of a whole ‘nuther long post!

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