Last weekend, when asked how his season was going, Chiba Lotte Marines skipper Bobby Valentine rued the lack of runs his team was putting on the board.
Doesn't seem to be a problem anymore.
On Thursday night in Chiba, the Marines exploded offensively, scoring 23 runs on 23 hits in a 23-2 interleague slaughter of the Hiroshima Carp.
The game featured an NPB-record 15-run inning when Lotte sent 20 batters to the plate in the bottom of the sixth. The Marines also set NPB records for most RBIs in an inning (15) and most consecutive batters to score (14).
The previous record for runs scored in an inning in Japanese baseball was 13. In 1953, the Boston Red Sox scored an MLB-record 17 runs in an inning against the Detroit Tigers.
Toshiaki Imae led the offensive charge with six RBIs, including a grand slam, which was--believe it or not--the only home run of the ballgame.
Other key contributors included Keisuke Hayasaka (3 RBIs), Shoitsu Omatsu (3 hits, 2 RBIs), Tasuku Hashimoto (4 hits) and Tomoya Satozaki (3-for-3, 3 RBIs).
On the receiving end, Carp starter Kan Otake gave up seven runs on six hits and four walks in just 2 2/3 innings. Rookie Takeshi Komatsu then got knocked around for four runs on five hits in another 2 2/3 innings, followed by Scott Dohmann, who failed to register an out in giving up six runs on four hits, a walk and a hit-by-pitch.
Next up for Marty Brown's floundering Carp was Choji Mori, who allowed five runs (three earned) on five hits in two-thirds of an inning. Masaki Hayashi and Takahiro Aoki then worked an inning each, bringing back some semblance of normalcy to the game by allowing just one run over the final two frames.
All told, Carp pitchers issued seven walks and hit three batters with pitches. Dohmann saw his ERA balloon to 17.28 while Mori's soared to 16.20.
The win has provided a rare bright spot for Valentine this season, his seventh in Japanese baseball. Prior to the season, he was informed by team officials that this would be his last year at the helm of the Marines, who have stumbled out to a 23-29-3 record and sit fifth in the Pacific League. Heading into Thursday's game, Lotte ranked at or near the bottom of the league in team batting average and runs scored.
The Carp are one of the hottest teams in interleague play in 2009, posting a 12-6 record against PL clubs. They are third in the Central League with a 27-26-2 mark.