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WBC: Japan at Cuba – Chapman out after 2.1 innings; Japan wins, 6-0

by on Mar.15, 2009 @ 4:01 pm, under WBC

Looks like a great day at Petco Park.

Weather: Partly cloudy, 58 degrees, wind 6 mph SW

Kazuhiro Kiyohara is in the booth helping out with the commentary on TBS (channel 6 in Tokyo).

Here are the starting line-ups:

JAPAN            CUBA
RF Suzuki        CF Cespedes
SS Kataoka       3B Enriquez
LF Aoki          LF Cepeda
3B Murata        DH Peraza
DH Ogasawara     2B Gourriel
1B Uchikawa      RF Despaigne
CF Fukudome      1B Anderson
C  Johjima       C  Pestano
2B Iwamura       SS Paret

SP Matsuzaka     SP Chapman

Nakajima's fever has gone down, but he is not in the starting line-up. Whether or not he's well enough to enter the game later on is not known.

I'm a little surprised with the line-up. I was actually hoping to see Kawasaki at third with Murata DH'ing. But I guess Hara feels better about Ogasawara.

It's a little strange to see the stands so "empty" -- I've become so accustomed to seeing them packed for Samurai Japan games in Japan.


Top of the First
Not a horrible inning for Japan. They got Chapman to throw 18 pitches (9 for strikes). Aoki got on with a walk and I hope that his steal of second is a sign of a lot of running to come.

And while Ichiro's AB wasn't exactly great, he did get Chapman to throw 6 pitches. And he almost managed to eek out a walk.

Bottom of the First
Matsuzaka tossed 16 pitches that inning (11 for strikes). It seems like he was hitting his spots pretty good. He did give up 2 hits, but I don't think either one of them was hit very hard.

Top of the Second
Not an altogether bad inning for Japan, in terms of making Chapman work (23 pitches, 12 for strikes), but they killed any momentum they could have picked up by getting picked off twice. While Ogasawara's pick-off is somewhat forgivable, Uchikawa really had no business getting picked-off.

Bottom of the Second
Nice 1, 2, 3 inning for Matsuzaka -- and he only needed 11 pitches (7 strikes). He looks pretty comfortable out there so far.

Top of the Third
Very nice inning for Japan. This is exactly what they needed to do. They made Chapman work and they ended up getting to him. And with their aggressiveness on the base paths, they made Cuba make tough plays.

In the end, I think youth and inexperience did Chapman in. There were a number of times he was visibly upset with the home plate umpire and I think the frustration from that, along with some really tough ABs by Japanese hitters, were major factors in Chapman falling apart. When he gets his stuff together, he's going to be a really scary pitcher.

Bottom of the Third
Matsuzaka gave up 2 more singles and ended up throwing 24 pitches (18 strikes). The inning may have ended slightly sooner had Ichiro and Johjima not dropped balls hit in foul territory during Paret's at bat. That one AB cost Matsuzaka 9 pitches.

Still, a very solid inning by Matsuzaka. He also struck out 3.

Top of the Fourth
Another solid offensive inning for Japan. They got a little help from the sky, but they managed to push a run across the plate (even though it wasn't pretty). And Iwamura had a nice 8-pitch at bat that ended up turning into an infield single.

Bottom of the Fourth
I think this is the best I've seen Matsuzaka pitch this year. He threw 11 pitches (8 strikes) for another 1, 2, 3 inning. He also struck out 2 more batters (6 so far).

Matsuzaka is sitting on 62 pitches so far.

Top of the Fifth
Japan made Cuban pitchers work again that inning. They tossed a total 32 pitches in while facing 7 batters. Aoki also had a great 12-pitch at bat -- it may have ended in an out, but I think it did a lot more for Japan (and Aoki) than it did Cuba.

And it looks like Ogasawara has climbed out of his slump at just the right time (the same could also be said for Iwamura).

Bottom of the Fifth
Another nice inning for Matsuzaka. A bunt single, a double play, and a strike out to end the inning.

Matsuzaka tossed 14 pitches (9 strikes) in that inning -- he's now sitting at 76 pitches overall.

Top of the Sixth
Japan went down fairly quietly this inning. Ichiro struck out, Kataoka flew out to left, and Aoki grounded out to second. But they still managed to make Cuba throw 15 pitches that inning. And while Ichiro did strike out, I think he also had a decent AB (he saw 6 pitches).

Bottom of the Sixth
Great outing by Matsuzaka. He came through big time for Japan. And he ended his day in fashion, striking Peraza out on a slider with his 86th pitch of the game.

His final line:
6 IP, 22 BF, 5 H, 0 BB, 8 K, 7 GO, 3 FO
86 pitches, 61 strikes

Top of the Seventh
Three up, three down for Japan.

Bottom of the Seventh
Nice inning there by Iwakuma. He gave up a lead-off single, but then struck out Despaigne, got Anderson to ground out to short, and then struck out the pinch-hitter, Merino to end the inning.

Iwakuma: 12 pitches (10 strikes)

Top of the Eighth
A fairly uneventful inning, outside of perhaps Johjima's 8-pitch at bat (that resulted in a line out to left) and Iwamura's 9-pitch at bat (that resulted in a walk).

Bottom of the Eighth
Mahara made a nice play on a bunt single attempt for the first out. He then gave up a single and got a double play to end the innning.

Mahara: 8 pitches (5 strikes)

Top of the Ninth
Aoki laid down a good bunt to move Kawasaki over to second. Murata followed that with an RBI single. Inaba replaced Uchikawa, but weakly grounded out to second to end the inning.

Bottom of the Ninth
Fujikawa gave up a double to start the inning, but settled in nicely after that by striking out 2 batters swinging and getting Despaigne to fly out to center.

Fujikawa: 19 pitches (13 strikes)


Great game for Japan. Must have been a fairly tough (and tiring loss) for Cuba. I think Japan really managed to do just about everything right in this game. They made the pitchers throw a lot of pitches, they ran the bases aggressively, and the pitchers all did a really great job.

4 pitchers combined: 9.0 IP, 33 BF, 8 H, 0 BB, 12 K, 11 GO, 4 FO, 125 pitches (99 strikes).

The only negatives might be Ichiro's 0-for-5 and Fukudome's 1-for-4 with 3 strike outs. Still, the team did an amazing job making Cuba throw a lot of pitches -- 186 pitches (116 strikes) thrown between 7 pitchers to be exact.

Iwamura (2-for-3) and Ogasawara (2-for-4) also appear to have turned a corner. If Ichiro continues to slump, these two guys (more so Iwamura than Ogasawara though) could become important keys to Japan's offense.

     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9   R  H  E
JPN  0  0  3  1  1  0  0  0  1   6  12 2
CUB  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0   0  8  0

0 comments on “WBC: Japan at Cuba – Chapman out after 2.1 innings; Japan wins, 6-0

  1. knucklehead7

    It’ll be interesting to see how Ichiro and Aoki do against a tough lefty like Chapman. Not exactly the kind of guy you want to face when you’re in a slump.

  2. Gwynar

    Nice, Aoki works out a walk. But he also got a pitch up near his head (unintentional), clocked at about 100mph. You could tell he was bailing a bit after that.

  3. knucklehead7

    A solid at-bat from Aoki after Ichiro and Kataoka ground out. Chapman threw 18 pitches, nine balls and nine strikes in that inning.

  4. Gwynar

    Great AB by Ogasawara to get a walk after falling behind 0-2. And Chapman didn’t look happy with a few of the calls. That could end up working in favor of Japan.

    EDIT: Doh! How can you get picked off! Grrr…

  5. Gwynar

    Damn. Another great AB. Uchikawa walks after seeing 9 pitches.

    EDIT: another pick-off… Japan’s getting a little TOO aggressive.

  6. knucklehead7

    Fukudome strikes out looking, but he worked the count full and fouled off a few pitches.

  7. knucklehead7

    Much easier inning there for Matsuzaka. He’s thrown 27 pitches, eighteen of them for strikes after two innings.

  8. Gwynar

    Johjima gets Japan’s first hit, a single to center.

    BTW: There was mention that Wakui and Iwata were tossing in the bullpen. Probably nothing more than trying to keep loose.

    UPDATE: Iwamura gets a single. Runners on first and second, no outs for Ichiro… BIG at bat here for Ichiro.

    UPDATE 2: Ichiro drops one down and the throws goes to third for the first out of the inning.

    UPDATE 3: Kataoka gets a single to load the bases for Aoki with 1 out.

  9. knucklehead7

    Iwamura follows with a single of his own, but Ichiro’s bunt attempt results in a force out at third. One out, first and second.

  10. Gwynar

    Wild pitch! Iwamura scores!

    UPDATE 1: Woo-hoo! Nice hit by Aoki to plate Ichiro at third. Japan now up, 2-0.

    UPDATE 2: sac fly by Murata to score Kataoak from third. Japan now has a 3-0 lead.

    UPDATE 3: single by Ogasawara up the middle. Aoki with a heads up play to get to third.

    Pitching change by Cuba.

  11. knucklehead7

    Matsuzaka strikes out Peraza to end the third inning. His pitch count is up to 51 (36 strikes).

  12. Gwynar

    Wow, that’s the third times a fielder has had a problem with a ball hit in the air (Johjima just hit a fly ball to right that Despaigne lost in the sky).

    And now the crowd is giving Despaigne a sarcastic round of applause for getting a pair of sunglasses.

  13. knucklehead7

    That’s the second time Fukudome has been called out on strikes. But Johjima follows it up with his second hit of the game, a double to right.

  14. Gwynar

    Uchikawa singles up the middle to drive in Japan’s 5th run of the game.

    Another pitching change for Cuba.

  15. Gwynar

    Whew… I think I dozed off there for a minute. Kept banging my head against the wall behind me.

  16. knucklehead7

    Ha, I don’t know how you’re still up to be honest. End of six, it’s still 5-0!

  17. Gwynar

    Pitching change Cuba. Interesting that they’re pulling the string after Maya’s 30th pitch — had they taken him out 1 pitch sooner, he’d be eligible to pitch tomorrow. As is, he now requires a day of rest.

  18. knucklehead7

    At the end of eight, it’s still 5-0. The pitchers for Japan have combined for ten strikeouts and zero walks.

  19. Gwynar

    Kawasaki comes into the game for Kataoka and promptly hits a single to center.

    UPDATE: Murata hits a single and drives Kawasaki in from second. Japan now up, 6-0.

    Another pitching change for Cuba.

    UPDATE 2: Inaba comes in for Uchikawa.

  20. knucklehead7

    The pitching was excellent (12 K’s, 0 BB) and the offense racked up twelve hits. The next game will be Tuesday against the winner of tonight’s Mexico/Korea matchup.

  21. Gwynar

    And with that, I think I need to hit the sack.

    Thanks for checking in on this blog post every now and then. Certainly made things easier for me knowing someone else was looking.