11:05AM JST: SportsNavi is reporting that Yoshihisa Naruse will get the start against Canada. Tomoya Satozaki will behind the plate as Shinnosuke Abe DH's.
Naruse is the left-handed ace for the Chiba Lotte Marines. He can throw a fastball, slider, change, fork, curve, and screwball, although he tends to rely mainly on his fastball, change, and slider. Naruse isn't really a strikeout pitcher and needs to have his control in order to be effective. He lead the league with a 1.82 ERA and winning percentage (16-1, .941) last season but hasn't been quite as effective this season. I'm actually a little surprised Hoshino is going with Naruse since this really is a must-win game for Japan. The only thing I can think of is that Canada has quite a few lefties in the lineup.
Here are his numbers from his current season with the Marines:Code:G W L CG IP BF H HR BB HBP SO WP BK ER R ERA 17 6 6 3 119.2 482 97 11 25 3 90 2 0 42 44 3.16
11:26AM JST: Sanspo is reporting that Tsuyoshi Nishioka had X-Rays taken of his right flank to see if there was any structural damage to the bones. The X-Rays were negative and Nishioka is listed as day-to-day. (It isn't a hamstring problem as reported before.)
1st AB: fly out to right
2nd AB: grounds into double play
3rd AB: fielder's choice
4th AB: fielder's choice
Cute Canadian Chick Count: 3
Starting Lineups CANADA JAPAN 11 Stubby Clapp 2B 23 Norichika Aoki CF 15 Emmanuel Garcia SS 2 Masahiro Araki 2B 20 Michael Saunders RF 31 Masahiko Morino LF 40 Scott Thorman 1B 25 Takahiro Arai 1B 33 Nick Welglarz LF 41 Atsunori Inaba RF 17 Emerson Frostad DH 55 Shuichi Murata 3B 4 Matt Rogelstad 3B 10 Shinnosuke Abe DH 30 Chris Robinson C 22 Tomoya Satozaki C 7 Adam Stern CF 3 Hiroyuki Nakajima SS
Top of the 1st
First pitch: 11:30AM JST.
Norichika Aoki flies out to right.
Masahiro Araki singles up the middle.
Masahiko Morino hits a grounder to first, Thorman throws to second for the first out, back over to first, double play.
Observations: Losing both Nishioka and Kawakami really hurts the offense for Japan. Araki isn't a bad player, but he's known more as a slap hitter with good bat control, which means he's perfect as a number 2 hitter, but losing Nishioka means the lineup gets shorter.
Bottom of the 1st
Stubby Clapp strikes out looking.
Emmanuel Garcia grounds out to second.
Michael Saunders pops out to the first baseman in foul territory.
Observations: I find it funny how the announcers over here have to keep reminding viewers that the ball-strike count shown in the upper left is reversed. In Japan, they show the count as strikes to balls. I'm not really sure why Japan does it this way, but I think it has something to do with the way the ump shows the count: looking from the side of the ump, his hands show a ball-strike count. But from the center field camera the count is reversed.
Top of the 2nd
Takahiro Arai singles into left.
Atsunori Inaba hits a hot shot to short. Bobbled there, fielded, steps on the bag for one out... And not enough time to turn two.
Shuichi Murata strikes out swinging.
Shinnosuke Abe grounds out to third.
Deep Thoughts: Why is it that the camera operator always seems to be able to pick out some really good looking women in the stands? (Anything for TV ratings, I suppose.) They've already shown one fairly cute Canadian woman at least two times. Not that I'm complaining, mind you.
Bottom of the 2nd
Scott Thorman strikes out swinging.
Nick Welglarz strikes out looking.
Emerson Frostad pops on up, drifting back and towards foul territory is Araki. Struggling with the bright sunlight he just makes the grab.
Observations: This ump doesn't seem to have a very consistent zone. The zone also does appear to be a bit wide as balls off the plate are being called strikes (but again, IMHO, not consistently).
Top of the 3rd
Tomoya Satozaki strikes out swinging.
Hiroyuki Nakajima singles to left.
Aoki hits a grounder to short, throw to second for the first out, over to first, double play.
Observations: I don't know much about Chris Begg (starter for Canada) but he's thrown some pretty nasty off-speed pitches. He's done a good job keeping Japan off-balance at the plate. BTW: Aoki looked like he was safe at first.
Bottom of the 3rd
Matt Rogelstad lines one to second, Araki makes a leaping catch for the first out.
Chris Robinson lines one toward short, Nakajima dives glove-side and makes the catch!
Adam Stern grounds back to the pitcher for the final out.
Observations: Rogelstad, Robinsonm and Stern hit three bullets off Naruse that just happened to be at caught. That will be something to keep an eye on moving forward.
Top of the 4th
Araki strikes out swinging.
Morino flies out to left.
Arai strikes out swinging.
Observations: Anyone know what Chris Begg throws?
Bottom of the 4th
Clapp hits a sharp gounder to second, Araki fields and spins, fires to first, out!
Garcia singles into center.
Saunders hits a hot shot to first, but it bounces off Arai and spills into right. Clapp coasts into third, Garcia into second with a double.
Thorman strikes out swinging for the second out.
Welglarz strikes out swinging for the final out!
Observations: Don't know if I noticed this in other dugouts before, but I've caught two Canadians eating bananas. ... Naruse doesn't really seem to be fooling Canada anymore. He also appears to be missing his spots more often now. ... Naruse was really lucky there. He missed his spots a couple of times and things could have been a lot worse. But he managed to wiggle out of a bad situation. I'm worried though -- it'll be interesting to see how Canada does in their next half. ... The game is moving along at a fairly fast pace: 1 hour for 4 innings of play.
Top of the 5th
Inaba hits a drive to deep right... Back, far, it's outta here! Homerun Inaba!
Murata strikes out swinging.
Abe dribbles one toward first, pitcher fields. Begg tags Abe out for the second out.
Satozaki grounds out to second.
Observations: How Naruse starts this inning will be very important. The best would be for him to retire the side in order and get Japan back up to the plate again. ... Japan's play-by-play system is showing that Begg throws a fastball, curve, change and slider. He also appears to have another pitch, but I don't think Japan's play-by-play system is picking it up properly.
Bottom of the 5th
Frostad foul tips the ball into the glove of Satozaki for strike three.
Rogelstad pops-out into third base foul territory.
Robinson strikes out looking.
Observations: Nice strong inning by Naruse, exactly what you want to see after Japan scored a run in their top half. Now the question is how much much longer does Naruse go. He has thrown 68 up to this point, so it would seem he can go at least another inning. But look for Hoshino to have a quick hook today, especially after what happened against Korea the other night.
Top of the 6th
Nakajima hits a grounder to short, bobbles, fires... Not in time!
Aoki dribbles one to third, throw to second and that's it. One out.
Pitching change: David Davidson comes in for Begg
Araki bunts Aoki over to second, two outs.
Morino pops one up behind the plate, caught by Robinson for the final out of the inning.
Observations: Aoki is bunting!? Just for the first pitch it seems. ... Cute Canadian Chick Watch: 3 (the camera crew must really love her).
Bottom of the 6th
Stern grounds out to third.
Clapp strikes out swinging.
Garcia strikes out swinging.
Observations: Another strong inning for Naruse. No one was warming in the pen that inning. I would think that Naruse will return to the mound for the 7th, but if I'm Hoshino, I'm going to have the bullpen ready just in case.
Top of the 7th
Arai strikes out swinging.
Inaba grounds out to second.
Murata grounds out to second.
Bottom of the 7th
Saunders strikes out swinging.
Thorman pops out in foul territory near first base.
Welglarz flies out to left.
Observations: Important half for Naruse as he'll face the heart of the lineup. ... Naruse pitched another effective inning. No one was warming in the pen that inning either. Wonder if this means Naruse will come back out for the 8th? 86 pitches so far for Naruse.
Top of the 8th
Abe is caught looking for strike three.
Satozaki hits a rocket to second, throw to first, two outs.
Nakajima walks on 6 pitches.
Aoki hits a grounder to short, throw over to second for the force and final out of the inning.
Observations: Japan would ideally like to score a run or two more over these next few innings. But based on how Japan has been swinging the bat today, I'm not sure if they'll be able to collect enough baserunners / hits. ... Japan has Shinya Miyamoto INF, Akihiro Yano C and GG Sato OF on the bench. Tsuyoshi Nishioka may be available, but I'm not positive. ... Uehara was warming in the pen after Nakajima walked.
Bottom of the 8th
Pitching change: Kyuji Fujikawa in for Naruse
Defensive change: Akihiro Yano in for Satozaki
Frostad grounds out to second.
Rogelstad strikes out looking.
Pinch hitter: Ryan Radmanovich comes in for Robinson.
Radmanovich strikes out swinging.
Observations: Fujikawa is in for Naruse. Looks like Honshino is going the conservative root. I think if Japan managed another run in the top of the 8th, Naruse may have returned to the mound for another inning. ... Koji Uehara will probably pitch the 9th. ... Fujikawa hit 151km/h on the speed gun. ... Nice inning by Fujikawa. He's been pretty dominant in all three of his outings now.
Top of the 9th
Pitching change: Steve Green comes in for Davidson.
Defensive change: David Corrente comes in for Radmanovich.
Araki hits a slow grounder to third, throw to first. Not in time! Infield single for Araki.
Morino up to bat. On the 0-1 count, Corrente throws over to first, but it's a bad throw and the ball rolls into foul territory. Araki races to second, rounds second, and makes it into third. Morino hits a hard grounder to first, Araki has to stay at third, Thorman steps on the bag for the first out.
Arai grounds out to third. Arai stays at third.
Inaba is intentionally walked.
Murata strikes out swinging.
Observations: Araki may be the faster runner on the roster. So what he doesn't have in power and batting average, he makes up for in fielding, running, and bat control. ... Big run at third base. Japan NEEDS to get this runner home. ... Smart move by Canada to walk Inaba. They set up the force and they bring a strikeout prone hitter in Murata up to the plate.
Bottom of the 9th
Pitching change: Koji Uehara comes in for Fujikawa
Defensive change: Shinya Miyamoto comes in for Murata
Stern bunts back to the pitcher for the first out.
Clapp grounds out to short for the second out.
Garcia grounds out to second for the final out of the inning.
Observations: Uehara hasn't pitched since the game against Taiwan. In that game he had a four-run lead. It'll be interesting to see how he pitches with only a one-run lead. ... Uehara looks pretty relaxed on the mound.
Game over, Japan beats Canada, 1-0.
Post Game Notes
Nice game for Japan. If there's one concern, it's the offense's inability to string together hits. But Naruse got the job done, shutting down Canada's offense. And both Fujikawa and Uehara did their jobs by securing the 8th and 9th innings respectively.
Aoki was held hitless today, but then so was most of the lineup. Outside of Araki (2-for-3), Inaba (1-for-3) and Nakajima (1-for-2), the rest of the lineup went 1-for-22 with 7 strikeouts.
In 7 innings of work, Naruse only allowed 2 hits and struck out 10. Fujikawa followed with a scoreless inning and 2 strikeouts. And Uehara closed the door in the ninth in order.
Japan grounded into 2 double plays (Aoki, Morino).
Japan now has two games remaining: China and the US. Does Darvish get the start tomorrow? Or do they save him for the US?
About what a loss to Canada would have meant:
A loss to Canada would have been devastating. But Naruse pitched a great game for us.
About Inaba's homerun:
Inaba has been solid for us. Sure it was only one run, but it was a pitching duel on both sides. And at the end of the game, Inaba's run was the only run that crossed the plate.