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There is no tomorrow: Marines force final game

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There is no tomorrow: Marines force final game

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The Hawks are now on the precipice of two things. They are either on the cusp of either making the Japan Series for the first time in seven years, or they will be victimized by the Marines again in the playoffs at home, blowing a 3-1 series lead.

SoftBank clearly looked like a cursed team today, much like the Tigers did over the weekend against their arch-rivals. Ohtonari is only as good as his control and his offense allow him to be, and given the circumstances, he was exceptional today. Through the first three and two-thirds innings, he was perfect, and he only gave up two hits and struck out seven in five innings.

I must question Akiyama's quick hook, as Ohtonari had only thrown 69 pitches and was on a roll despite having a slim lead at 1-0, which was acquired thanks to an RBI double by Kokubo in the second.

The decision would come back to bite Akiyama, as Brian Falkenborg, Tadashi Settsu, and Masahiko Morifuku were all tagged with runs. The Hawks normally-reliable bullpen was tagged for five runs on nine hits, giving the Marines the series-tying 5-2 win.

It was a Lucky 7 indeed for the Marines as they poured it on against Brian Falkenborg, who rarely goes beyond one inning. After working a 1-2-3 6th, he couldn't get beyond that as the tall reliever was roughed up. Iguchi doubled his way on and an errant curveball wound up at the backstop as Iguchi went to third. Saburo doubled in Iguchi to tie the game.

It only got worse as Settsu came in to stop the bleeding. He has historically been better when starting an inning clean, and this was no exception as Fukuura lofted a pinch-hit RBI single to close the book on Falkenborg (1+IP, 2R 2H, K). Settsu continued to work against Kim Tae-kyun, and he singled his way on. A groundout from Ohmatsu allowed pinch-runner Masahiko Tanaka to get to third to bring up Mr. Climax Series, Tomoya Satozaki.

With the game hanging in the balance, he delivered the dagger with a two-run double (shades from 2005, no doubt) that put the Marines ahead, 3-1. That would be enough as the Marines added two more in the 9th on a two-run shot from Kiyota (2) to give the M's a 5-2 lead (Ortiz hit an RBI double in the bottom of the 8th).

Tomorrow will be the sixth and final game of the Pacific League Climax Series Final Stage. The expected pitching matchup will be a rematch of Game 1, with Naruse taking the mound against Sugiuchi.

As an aside (and me playing armchair manager again), I'm opposed to Sugiuchi taking the mound. He has not been the Hawks' ace this season, and it has showed on many an occasion, especially against the Marines. Instead, Akiyama should send Tsuyoshi Wada to the mound on short rest, since his numbers are infinitely better against Lotte than Sugiuchi's.

Here's hoping that Akiyama actually takes this to heart and plays the percentages. There is no tomorrow, it's time to make decisions as such. Your best against their best. Go Hawks.
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