While the Lotte Giants are battling for first place, their sibling club, the Chiba Lotte Marines, are leading the pack. Last year, the two teams finished side-by-side at the bottom of the standings, but this year it’s a completely different story.
Chiba Lotte won 11-1 against the Seibu Lions on April 24 at Chiba Marine Stadium. The batting lineup exploded early on and cruised to a comfortable victory. They have won six straight games (one tie), dating back to the Nippon Ham Fighters on April 14, and remain atop the Pacific League standings. They have a two-game lead over the second-place SoftBank Hawks.
On a roll.
Nine wins (one tie) in 11 games since Sept. 9 against Seibu. A three-game sweep of Seibu from Sept. 9-11 gave them a boost. Has won five straight against Seibu.
The home run got things started quickly.
In the bottom of the first inning, No. 5 Yasuda Hisanori (24) hit a three-run homer to lead off the inning. On a full count, he pulled a 140-kilometer-per-hour slider from Seibu right-hander Tatsuya Imai (25) low on the body.
In the bottom of the second inning, with a 3-0 lead, No. 8 catcher Tatsuhiro Tamura (29) hit a one-run homer. With the bases loaded, he took a 136-kilometer-per-hour slider and sent it over the left-field fence. It was his first home run in three years since Oct. 16, 2020, against Nihon Ham.
It was Tamura’s 18th career home run since making his debut in 2013. Manager Masato Yoshii, who sensed the home run as he watched the pitch, cheered and clapped.
With a 4-0 lead, the center field lineup came alive in the bottom of the third inning. With runners on first and second, No. 4 Gregory Polanco hit a single to left field. With runners on first and third, No. 5 Yasuda blasted a three-run homer to left.
Korea and Japan’s Lotte baseball 스포츠토토 team during a joint training session in Ishigaki, Japan, in February. Photo courtesy of Lotte Giants
Chiba Lotte and the Lotte Giants in a joint training session. Photo courtesy of Lotte Giants
Photo courtesy of Lotte Giants
In the bottom of the fourth inning, with an 8-0 lead, an extra run was added. With the bases loaded, Raito Ikeda hit a home run to left field. 9-0. In the bottom of the seventh, Polanco hit a solo home run.
Yasuda had six RBIs with two three-run homers. Lotte Chiba drove in nine runs with five homers. Starting pitcher Kazuya Ojima pitched six innings of one-run ball to earn his fifth win of the season.
It was a rough start to the season.
They dropped their opening three-game series against the SoftBank Hawks. They rebounded with five straight wins against the Nippon Ham and Rakuten Eagles. A three-game losing streak in late April and early May put them on a bit of a downward spiral, but they managed to stay on track without a long losing streak.
The loss of star pitcher Roki Sasaki (23) to injury didn’t have much of an impact. Sasaki was removed from the roster on May 5 after throwing five scoreless innings in a start against SoftBank. He developed a blister on his finger and was placed on the disabled list.
Chiba Lotte finished fifth out of six teams in the Pacific League last year. After finishing second for the second consecutive year in 2020-2021, they dropped to Class B (4th-6th out of 6 teams). The team hired Yoshii to replace Tadahito Iguchi at the end of last season. Yoshii, a former pitcher with 121 career wins in Japan and the U.S., is a WBC (World Baseball
Shin Dong-bin, chairman of Lotte Group, owner of the Korea-Japan Lotte Baseball Team. Song Jeong-heon 기자songs@sportschosun.com
Classic) as the pitching coach of the Japanese national team.
Shin Dong-bin, chairman of the Lotte Group, is the owner of the Korea-Japan Lotte Baseball Team. The two teams held joint training and practice games in Ishigaki, Japan in February this year.
Chiba Lotte lifted the Japan Series trophy in 2005 and 2010, when Lee was a dominant force.