What I am trying to say here is Our Marines flew to Sapporo and issued one of their best performances of the year in the biggest game of the year, a 9-3 demolition of Nippon Hamu in their own stadium. It was… Good. Throw together another match like that tomorrow and we’ll be laughing in Fukuoka.
Riding the Bats
As I mentioned over the last few posts this season, its unquestionable that Lotte swept into the postseason on the wave of lockdown pitching from both the rotation and the pen, and with Goemon vs likely Sawamura award winner Otani in game 1 one would expect roughly the same to start this series. No. Tonight, playoff experience and timely hitting from a host of veterans at the plate and great D in the field proved key.
Ishikawa got off to a bit of a rough start as the first batter of the game, Yoh Daikan, reached on a bloop single and came home on a double from veteran Tanaka. 1-0 Hamu after 1.
Otani, who reached 160 km/h on a fastball in the first while looking dominant, threw some very hittable pitches in the second as Lotte bats patiently awaited the proper opportunity. Ageless wonder Fukuura started the second with a one-out single and moved to second on an infield single from Cochito Cruuuuuuuz. Captain Daichi drew a walk to load the bases, and Mr Golden Year Imae unloaded them with a perfect double to the left-center gap. Suddenly, 3-1 Chiba!
Top 3, a Kiyota walk was erased by a Despa GIDP, which was really a shame as first Fukuura (again!), then Cruuuuuuuz, then Captain Daichi doubled off Otani – two more in and we’re looking at a laugher – 5-1 LOTTE after 2.5.
Things almost fell apart. Ishikawa was not fooling many Fighters this evening. Bottom 3, Yoh and Nakashima reached with no outs and Yoh came home on a Nakata Sho timely. Dangerous Tanaka smashed a grounder up the middle – no! Cruz makes a great diving glove, flips from the glove to Daichi who rifles it to Fukuura, threat over. Wow! A 5-2 game now but that play proved to be a true turning point.
Otani left after issuing a pair of walks following the Daichi double in the third, and the Fighters pen was simply not good at all. Combined, Lotte bats stroked 11 hits but mixed in with that was a mind-boggling 10 walks. In the 6th, Hakumura loaded the bases via an infield single to Imae and walks to PH Iguchi and Kakunaka. Good old Kiyota, he of the breakout season and several timely hits in the 2010 playoffs, brought in a pair with a single to left – 7-2 Chiba.
Light-hitting Tamura of all people added the 8th run after Ishii intentionally walked Imae to pitch to him, and in top 8 Kiyota jacked a pretty decent 3-0 offering from Mitch Lively into the right field stands. Game, set, and a fantastic 9-3 win for Our Marines.
The only real cause for concern was Cochito Cruz getting carted off on the back of Despa. Considering he just spent the past week rehabbing a sore hammy I thought for sure he had reaggravated it, but after the game on Twitter Cruz confirmed it was a case of cramps and not the hamstring. Whew!
im ok i just cramp up both legs !!! just cramps!!!. good win today!!!
— luis cruz (@CochitoCruz) October 10, 2015
Hamu killer Chen gets the nod for game 2 vs Mendoza. One more great game and we’ve got tickets to Fukuoka!