...Yu Darvish will get the start for Japan while Korea turns to Jung-Keun Bong. Bong pitched 5.1 scoreless inning against Japan during the Pool A Finals game.
...TV ratings for the Japan vs. Cuba game were pretty high despite the early morning hour.
During the 5am hour: 11.6%
From 6am on: 24.6%
The "special" re-broadcast of the game in the evening captured a 14.2% mark.
...Samurai Japan merchandising is also selling well in the US. A number of stores at Petco Park ran out of stock of the official Team Japan hat during the Japan / Cuba game. T-shirts have also sold very well -- from the sounds of it, only extra large shirts remain in stock.
...Ichiro Suzuki's comment on facing Korea again:
It's like running into an ex-girlfriend while walking around town. Feels like fate. If we're going to keep meeting like this, we may as well get married.
...Hiroyuki Nakajima should be ready to go for Tuesday's game against Korea. "My fever is gone. I should be ready to go for tomorrow."
...Yu Darvish, Kenji Johjima, Shinnosuke Abe, and Yoshiyuki Ishihara all sat near each other to watch the Korea / Mexico game.
...It's beginning to make some waves in Japan that Hara gave the bunt sign to Ichiro in the third. Hara also gave the bunt sign to Nakajima during the Finals game against Korea and was criticized in some circles for doing so (since it didn't result in any runs). While Ichiro's bunt can't be considered a great success, it did lead to an inning where Japan managed to push 3 runs across the plate.
IMHO, I think the bunt during Cuba was a great move. I also think that the bunt sign against Korea wasn't quite as ill-advised as some seem to think. I do think, however, that Japan wasn't aggressive enough on the base paths against Korea and that they could have easily tried to steal second (Ichiro was on first at the time) instead of relying solely on the bunt. In other words, the bunt sign wasn't the problem, the fact that they weren't more aggressive on the base paths was.
...Samurai Japan batters were told to ignore eveything up high and focus on the low pitches from Cuban starter Aroldis Chapman. Their scouting reports also said that Chapman has a great fastball, but can lack control at times and that he tends to get distracted and frustrated with runner on base.
...Seems Kosuke Fukudome didn't realize the team would be playing some night games. He was under the impression that every game would be a day. Fukudome also didn't realize that the team's practice day would be on the 16th (something that was decided when the team beat Cuba).
Said Fukudome, "I didn't know. Am I the only one? Why did anyone tell me sooner?"
...Comments about the Japan's victory against Cuba from Shigeo Nagashima and pitching coach Hisahi Yamada:
On Hara, the manager of Samurai Japan
It was a great victory for Japan. I was able to watch the game without any worries after the second. Johjima also did a great job calling the game. And the line-up took advantage of scoring opportunities... It was really a great game all around. I'd like to see the team continue playing as one and make their way to Los Angeles.
On Matsuzaka's outing
Matsuzaka really came up big for Japan. Simply magnificent. He made it easier for me to determine who would pitch next. In a game like this, 6 innings like that using only 86 pitches... Not too many pitchers can do that.