Japan in World Baseball Classic
MVP: Daisuke Matsuzaka (Boston Red Sox) Final: vs S.Korea It's the 5th time for Japan and South Korea to play against eachother in this competition on Mar 23. It was before a crowd of more than 54,000. The team to score first was Japan. It was on Michihiro Ogasawara's base hit in the 3rd inning. In the 5th inning, South Korea's Choo Shin-soo homered off Japan's starter Hisashi Iwakuma. Iwakuma gave up 2 runs until 2 outs in the 8 inning. Toshiya Sugiuchi took over and finished that inning. In the 9th inning, Yu Darvish came up to pitch. The South Koreans equalized. Then in the 10th inning, Seiichi Uchikawa hit himself on base. Akinori Iwamura did so too. Then Ichiro hit them home. With this, Japan won 5 to 3 defending its world champion title.
Semi-final: vs U.S.A. The game was played on Mar 22 at Dodger Stadium. Starting for Japan, Daisuke Matsuzaka. But his pitch was immediately blown into the stands by Brain Roberts. In the 2nd inning, Japan equalized on Kenji Johjima's sacrifice fly. But the U.S. scored runs again. In the 4th inning, Japan exploded with a 2 RBI hit by Akinori Iwamura. Munenori Kawasaki slammed in a run. Matsuzaka left the mound after the 5th inning with 2 runs lost. Japan lost more runs to the U.S. But in the 8th inning, Kawasaki again hit in a run. Then Ichiro did too. He also came home on Hiroyuki Nakajima's double. Closing the game was Yu Darvish. Japan won 9 to 4.
Pool 1: for 1st and 2nd place It's Japan and South Korea facing for the 4th time on Mar 19. For the first time, Japan's starter in the tournament was Tetsuya Utsumi. He gave up a run in the 2nd inning. But Seiichi Uchikawa homered. Yasuyuki Kataoka hit in a run. It was a big 8th inning for Japan. Michihiro Ogasawara hit in a run. So did Akinori Iwamura. In the 9th, it was Norichika Aoki. Japan defeated the South Koreans 6 to 2. It will play U.S.A. in the semi-final.
Pool 1: vs Cuba For the 2nd time Japan and Cuba face eachother on Mar 18. Starting for Japan, Hisashi Iwakuma. He shut out the Cubans in 6 innings. Meanwhile, Japan's chance to score came in the 4th inning. With runners on base, Michihiro Ogasara hit to the foggy outfield. The Cuba side dropped the ball. It was 2 RBIs for Japan. Japan had another run batted in in the 7th. Then in the 9th, Ichiro who was in a serious slump tripled. He came home on Aoki's hit. Meanwhile Toshiya Sugiuchi pitched a shut out 3 innings. Japan beat the Cubans for the 2nd time. It's 5 to 0.
Pool 1: vs S.Korea For the 3rd time Japan and South Korea faced eachother on Mar 17 in WBC. Japan's starter Yu Darvish was in a mess. He got runners on first and 3rd in the first inning, lost runs after another, giving up 3 in all. Japan tried to catch up but Ichiro Suzuki could not hit. In the 5th inning, Kosuke Fukudome and Kenji Johjima had base hits each. But only 1 came home on a grounded ball. Then in the 7th inning, catcher Johjima was ejected from the game for showing disappointment at a strike call. Japan lost 1 to 4. South Korea celebrated by sticking its national flag on the pitcher's mound.
Pool 1: vs Cuba Before the game on Mar 15, there was fear in Japan on how to face young Cuban Aroldis Chapman who has a fast ball reaching 164 km per hour. But the fear was unfounded. In the 3rd inning, Japan filled the bases. Then on a wild pitch a runner came home. Following that Norchika Aoki hit in a run. Then Shuichi Murata with a sacrifice fly. Japan had more runs in the 4th and 5th inning. Meanwhile, Japan's starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka shut out the Cubans in 6 innings with 8 strike outs. Taking up after him, Hisashi Iwakuma. Japan in the end won 6 to 0.
Asia Round: vs S.Korea for 1st and 2nd places For Japan, Hisashi Iwakuma started on Mar 9. In the 4th inning, he lost a run to Kim Tae-kyun. Kenji Jojima then killed a runner on 2nd. Iwakuma pitched to the restricted 70 pitches to hurl 5 1/3 inning. Japan had a chance in the 4th inning, with a runner on 3 with 1 out. But it could not take advantage of it. Japan lost 0 to 1. Japan will face the winner of Pool B.
Asia Round: vs S.Korea Asia's biggest rivals faced eachother on Mar 7. Japanese batters faced Kim Kwang Hyun who's pitched well against the national team at the Beijing Olympic Games, and who before the game showed confidence. Ichiro recorded his first hit in the competition. He came home on Norichika Aoki's hit. Then, Seiichi Uchikawa who was starting for the first time, hit 2 runners home. In the bottom of that inning, Kim Tae Kyun blasted a 2 run homer. In the 2nd inning, Shuichi Murata erased any worries of being caught up with a 3 run home run. In the 5th, Kenji Johjima slammed a 2 run. With Japan winning 14 to 2 finishing 7 innings, the game was called. Japan secured a berth to the 2nd round.
Asia Round: vs China The first game for the Asia round was played at Tokyo Dome on Mar 5. The ceremonial pitch was hurled by Sadaharu Oh. The game was played before a crowd of more than 43,000. Starting for Japan, Yu Darvish. He pitched 4 innings without a run lost. As for Japanese hitters, in the 3rd inning, Norichika Aoki hit home a runner. Then Shuichi Murata slammed a 2 run home run. The relay of pitchers, Hideaki Wakui, Masahiro Tanaka and Kyuji Fujikawa was perfect. Japan won 4 to 0.
WBC Samurai Japan
33 candidates to play in WBC assembled in Miyazaki on Feb 15. They include Ichiro Suzuki and Kenji Johjima of the Seattle Marines, Daisuke Matsuzaka of the Boston Red Sox, Kosuke Fukudome to name a few. They began practice the next day and will continue so until the 22nd.
|Yomiuri Giants||Miyazaki-city, Miyazaki (Feb.1-25)|
|Chunichi Dragons||Chatan, Okinawa (Feb.1-Mar.1)|
|Hanshin Tigers||Ginoza, Okinawa (Feb.1-17) |
Aki-shi Hiroshima (Feb.19 to Mar.3)
|Yokohama Bay Stars||Ginowan-city, Okinawa (Feb.1- Mar.1)|
|Tokyo Yakult Swallows||Urazoe, Okinawa (Feb.1-27)|
|Hiroshima Toyo Carp|| Okinawa (Feb.1-12) |
Nichinan, Miyazaki (Feb.14-27)
|Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters||Nago-city, Okinawa (Feb.1-27)|
|Chiba Lotte Marines||Ishigaki, Okinawa(Feb.1-23)|
|Fukuoka Softbank Hawks||Miyazaki-shi, Miyazaki (Feb.1-26)|
|Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles||Kume Island, Okinawa (Feb.1-21)|
|Saitama Seibu Lions||Nango, Miyazaki (Feb.1-26)|
|Orix Buffaloes|| Miyako, Okinawa (Feb.1-22) |
Kochi-city, Kochi (Feb. 24-Mar.2)
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