CHIBA – Hayden Penn made sure a pair of early runs didn’t ruin his first start of the season. He also made sure the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles didn’t leave QVC Marine Field with a season-opening three-game sweep.
Penn recovered from a shaky start on the mound and the Chiba Lotte Marines’ hitters took advantage of a porous Eagles bullpen in a 5-2 victory on Thursday afternoon.
“The first win is always tough,” Penn said. “If you lose the first two games, three games into the season and you’re already pressing. So it was good to get a win at home in front of our fans and we should get it going moving forward.”
A wild pitch in the first inning and a pair of misplayed bunts in the third allowed the Eagles to get out to a 2-0 advantage. Penn battled back to keep the Marines in the game, allowing just three base runners after the third inning.
“There was some miscommunication with me and Gori (third baseman Toshiaki Image), which was my fault because I didn’t call for the ball on a couple of those bunts,” Penn said. “But I felt pretty good. I had a pretty decent sinker going. We stuck with it, I got some ground balls and we just kind of stayed with it.”
Penn (1-0) threw eight innings and allowed two runs — one earned — on seven hits, struck out three and walked two.
Kazuya Fukuura provided him with some run support in the sixth in the form of a two-run homer, his second of the season. Fukuura also had a three-run shot in the season opener on Tuesday.
“He’s been doing it his whole career,” Penn said. “We’re a pretty scrappy bunch. That’s the biggest thing with this team. If you get down early, if you can just keep your team in the game, whether it’s zeros or only allowing a run or two in big situations, we’re going to fight back.
“We showed it last year, and I feel like we’re going to do it again.”
Korean slugger Kim Tae Kyun drove in a pair of runs for the Marines with his only hit on a 1-for-4 day and Tadahito Iguchi had an RBI and finished 2-for-2. Saburo Omura also had a multi-hit game, going 2-for-4.
First-round draft pick Shota Ishimine entered the game in the eighth and tripled to right in his first pro at-bat.
Yasuhiko Yabuta worked the ninth to pick up the save for the Marines.
Eagles starter Koji Aoyama allowed a pair of runs on six hits in 5? innings, and didn’t factor into the decision. Reliever Hiroshi Katayama (1-0) took the loss.
Penn walked the game’s first hitter, Kazuo Matsui and later regretted it as Matsui worked his way around the bases, eventually coming home score on a two-out wild pitch to put Rakuten ahead 1-0.
The Eagles extended the lead in the third when Imae threw the ball away while fielding a bunt single by Teppei Tsuchiya, which allowed Matsui, who also led off the inning with a walk, to score.
Iguchi put himself in scoring position with a leadoff double for the Marines in the sixth. One batter later, Fukuura tied the game with his two-run shot to right.
Lotte catcher Tomoya Satozaki drew a walk to lead off the seventh and a single by Yoshifumi Okada put runners on first and second. Takashi Ogino bunted his way on to load the bases and Iguchi broke the tie with a run-scoring sacrifice fly to center.
The Marines weren’t done, with Kim widening the advantage with his two-run single to make the score 5-2.
Hawks 5, Buffaloes 3
BayStars 7, Dragons 1
Carp 3, Tigers 1